* Operator expects to plug well within 24 hours
* Leak began while company was attempting permanent plug
July 9 An inactive natural gas well in the shallow Gulf of Mexico suffered a blowout on Tuesday as operators were trying to permanently plug the well, causing an oil sheen that briefly rekindled memories of the BP Plc spill three years ago.
Houston-based Talos Energy LLC said it was in the process of shutting the inactive Ship Shoal 225 B-2 well when natural gas and condensate began flowing on Monday.
"In an abundance of caution, we decided to evacuate the platform and mobilize our spill response team, we notified the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the U.S. Coast Guard, and we shut-in two other producing wells at the platform," said Talos President and Chief Executive Timothy Duncan.
Talos, which owns the well through its subsidiary Energy Resources Technology Gulf of Mexico LLC, said the well should be plugged within 24 hours. The leak may have been due to the age of the tubing on the well, the company said.
While the leak 74 miles south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana, is tiny compared to the disastrous Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 that dumped 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf, it was one of the first reported blowouts in the Gulf since then.
"(The Ship Shoal 225 B-2 well) last produced mostly water in 1998 at a rate of 65,000 cubic feet of gas, 9 barrels of condensate and 1,150 barrels of water per day at a low flowing pressure of 175 pounds per square inch," Talos said. The well could not produce without artificial lift.
All five people working on the platform were evacuated.
A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said it did not have an immediate comment on Talos' plans to plug the leak.
"We are working closely with BSEE in overseeing that things are done properly," said Coast Guard spokesman Jonathan Lally.
Energy Resources has assets in the Gulf that average just 16,155 barrels of oil equivalent per day, with over two-thirds of that crude oil, Talos said in February.