Eugene Island pipeline shut after spill: Shell

HOUSTON Mon Jul 27, 2009 7:34pm EDT

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HOUSTON (Reuters) - The Eugene Island pipeline has been shut down pending repairs after a leak spilled 1,400 barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana, Shell Pipeline Co said Monday.

"At this time, we cannot forecast when restart will occur," Shell said in a news release.

The 20-inch-diameter line, which carries Eugene Island grade crude to shore, lost pressure and released crude Saturday afternoon about 60 miles southwest of Houma, Louisiana, in waters about 60 feet deep, Shell said.

Cleanup began Monday and the cause was under investigation. Mild weather, calm seas and distance from shore mean the oil likely will not reach land, Shell said.

A Shell spokesman said the company was sending a dive vessel to inspect the section of pipeline involved and the goal was to develop a repair and restart plan later in the week.

The leak occurred in an area defined by the U.S. Minerals Management Service as Eugene Island Block 281, the Coast Guard said.

The Eugene Island line recently began carrying crude from Chevron Corp's Tahiti platform farther offshore, increasing the volumes flowing through the line.

(Reporting by Bruce Nichols; Editing by Christian Wiessner)

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