Thursday, September 29, 2011

High Fracking Rates in Pennsylvania Since January 1, 2011

SkyTruth analysts have found that since the beginning of 2011 there have been 2,067 new natural gas and oil wells drilled in the state of Pennsylvania, with the majority being Marcellus Shale gas wells. All of these wells are being hydraulically fractured (fracked).

Data are updated daily from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and accounts not only for wells already drilled, but also those soon to be drilled.

As listed today, there are ten wells slated to be drilled between September 30 (tomorrow) and October 6, 2011.

These listings bring the grand total to 2,077 drilled wells in the state so far this year.

The tables below break this down by county.



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nighttime Satellite Image - Gulf of Mexico, September 26, 2011

As part of our investigation into the report of a fire in the Gulf the night of September 25 (at 7:45 pm local time), we got a few recent low-resolution nighttime images taken by satellites of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). This one was taken at 8:12 pm on the 25th:
DMSP nighttime satellite image taken at 8:11 pm on September 25, 2011. DMSP image and data processing by NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center. DMSP data collected by the US Air Force Weather Agency.

It shows bright spots scattered throughout this part of the Gulf - no surprise given the number of platforms in the area, since many of the larger ones are lit up like mini-cities:
Detail from 9/25/11 DMSP image above. Louisiana shoreline shown in yellow.











There is a very faint pale spot near the location of the supposed fire; but that might be from the nearby Na Kika platform instead:
Detail from 9/25/11 DMSP image showing location of fire given in NRC report. Two of BP's large and well lit deepwater platforms, Atlantis and Thunder Horse, are shown for reference. 
 Here's what the Thunder Horse platform looks like at night.  Yep, it is bright:
Thunder Horse platform at night. Image courtesy Oil Rig Photos.

Taylor Energy / 23051 Site - Yesterday's Oil Slick

First - yesterday afternoon's MODIS/Terra image was clear over the site of the reported fire in the Gulf of Mexico, and we don't see any sign of a smoke plume like we did last summer when the Deepwater Horizon rig was burning. Possibilities: the report to the NRC was erroneous; the location in the report is not accurate; the fire was a short-lived event; the fire didn't generate much smoke.  A drill rig flaring off large volumes of natural gas could create a brightly visible light at night, and wouldn't make much smoke, so we think this is a strong possibility.  Flaring economic quantities of gas in the Gulf is illegal - Shell paid a $49 million fine in 2003 for violating that law.
MODIS/Aqua satellite image taken September 26, 2011.
Second - the MODIS/Aqua image above, a couple of hours later, doesn't show anything around the location of the fire either. Scattered clouds obscure the view there. But it does show a slick that appears to emanate from our old nemesis, the former platform 23051 site that has been leaking since 2004.  The apparent slick is about 20 miles long and covers about 115 square kilometers. Assuming an average thickness of 1 micron (1/1000th of a millimeter), that's 30,705 gallons of oil.  If this slick is at the lower limit of visible detection, 0.1 microns, it's still 3,000 gallons - which is 3,000 times bigger than Taylor reported yesterday to the National Response Center just 30 minutes after this image was taken.
Detail from MODIS/Aqua image, September 26, 2011 showing apparent slick (delineated in yellow) emanating from 23051 site.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fire Reported in Gulf of Mexico

This just caught our eye on the SkyTruth Alerts:  multiple aircraft flying over the Gulf late last night reported seeing a fire about 60 miles southeast of the tip of the Mississippi Delta, in deep water about 20 miles south-southeast of BP's failed Macondo well. The source of the fire is unknown, and to our knowledge this has not yet been verified, but the location given in the NRC report puts this in Mississippi Canyon Block 519, where wells have recently been drilled by Noble Energy and tied back to the massive "Na Kika" platform located in Block 474 a few miles to the northwest. A few small spills of hydraulic fluid have been reported in the vicinity in the past week so we know there is current activity in the area. 

The Na Kika cluster of offshore fields is among the deepest in the world, with water depths exceeding 6,500' and wells reaching down more than 12,000' beneath the seafloor. (Na Kika is the "octopus god" of Polynesian mythology.  Seems appropriate.)

BP is the operator of this development, with Shell a major partner.

Here is a map showing the reported location of the fire. Platforms are shown as orange dots; pipelines are orange lines; the Mississippi Delta is at upper left, and the Macondo well site is shown for reference:
Location of fire reported last night in Gulf of Mexico.
 Subscribe to SkyTruth Alerts (it's free!) and you'll know it when we know it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

23051: Consistently inconsistent


Before this month, the last time the NRC received any report coming from Taylor Energy's chronically leaking platform 23051 was July 21. Well, after a long absence, we started seeing NRC reports again starting on September 1 and since then, someone's been reporting on that leak on an almost daily basis. And, as before, it seems as though the reporting is consistently inconsistent.

We've been tracking this platform since we discovered it to be leaking during the aftermath of last year's BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, and we've compiled everything we have on this chronology. And we're updating it daily. And things still don't seem to add up right.

For example, let's look at September 18, when the NRC received a report that 1 gallon of crude oil was spilled, resulting in a slick that was .19 miles by 2.1 miles. If that slick was continuous, and it was completely covered in oil, on average 1 micron thick, our analysis shows that, in reality, there were 272.13 gallons of oil spilled.

How about on September 14, when the NRC report showed that there was a spill of 43 gallons with a slick that was .25 miles by 13.6 miles. Using the calculations above, our analysis shows that the true amount of oil spilled for that incident would be 2291 gallons. Seeing a pattern of inconsistent reporting? Take a look at this satellite image of 23051 from that same day.

Radar satellite image of the 23051 site taken September 14, 2011.  The bright white area in the upper left is the Mississippi delta.  Bright white points are ships and drilling platforms. The dark area swirling out to the right of the 23015 site is the oil slick.
In fact, take a look at all of the NRC reports associated with site 23051 , and you'll see that the inconsistencies are, well, rather consistent. I just did a quick calculation on the reports so far this month, and for the incidents where a reported amount was given, the reported volumes range from 22 times lower to as much as 272 times lower than our calculations based on the reported size of the oil slick. On average for those reports, the reported amounts spilled are 78 times lower than our calculations.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Radar Satellite Images of BP / Deepwater Horizon Spill Area, September 11 and 14

We are focusing particularly hard on the area of the BP / Deepwater Horizon oil spill in recent days, after documentation of slicks in the area near the Macondo well site on August 19, and about 15 miles to the northeast on August 30.  The small area of thin slick sampled by Ben Raines on August 23, about one mile from the well site, was chemically tested by Ed Overton of Lousiana State University who declared it a "dead ringer" for Macondo crude oil; possibly leaking from the wrecked Deepwater Horizon rig or the 5,000' of collapsed riser pipe on the seafloor around the Macondo well. As far as we know, no samples were collected from the much more extensive patch of slicks observed on August 30.  Tropical Storm Lee blew in and knocked everyone out of the Gulf soon thereafter.

Some have suggested that crude oil from the reservoir 8,000' below the seafloor might be working its way up through faults and fractures in the bedrock, or along the Macondo wellbore.  If that happens we would expect to see "seepage on steroids" as oil works its way to the seafloor along multiple pathways and floats up to the ocean surface to form persistent oil slicks.

We would be able to observe those slicks on satellite imagery, just like we repeatedly observe slicks from active natural oil seeps throughout much of the Gulf.  Radar imagery is the go-to tool for the job.  A radar image taken on August 30 showed a patch of slick matching the area and description given by Bonny Schumaker when she flew over that site earlier in the day; an image taken a few days earlier, on August 26, showed nothing interesting in the vicinity. 

We've got a couple more recent images to look at.  This one shot on September 11 shows a lot of slicks in the area - a very complicated pattern typical of low-wind conditions (about 2 m/s), where dark, swirly patterns of natural surfactants usually present on the ocean surface are mingled with slicks from natural oil seeps and those possibly caused by oil leaks and spills, making it difficult to draw any firm conclusions (although note the slick apparently emanating from the location marked 23051, where we've documented a chronic leak from hurricane-damaged wells and routinely observe similar slicks) :

Envisat ASAR image taken September 11, 2011. Eastern edge of the image appears at right (black fill denotes no image data). Mississippi Delta is bright "bird's foot" at left center.  Image courtesy European Space Agency.

Here's the exact same area as it looked on another Envisat ASAR radar image shot at about 1pm local time yesterday under good conditions (wind blowing from the northwest at 4 m/s). We see a slick once again associated with the 23051 site, a few small slicks west and southwest of the Macondo well location that are very closely associated with known natural seep locations, and a variety of larger slicks in Breton Sound where we routinely see reports of leaks and spills from offshore oil facilities (and so can you, if you subscribe to SkyTruth Alerts):

Envisat ASAR image taken September 14, 2011. Mississippi Delta is bright "bird's foot" at left center.  Image courtesy European Space Agency.

And here's the same shot, with pipelines shown in orange, active platforms as orange dots, and natural oil seeps shown as green dots (seep data provided by Florida State University):

Envisat ASAR image taken September 14, 2011, with oil and gas infrastructure (orange) and known natural seep locations (green).  Image courtesy European Space Agency.
The upshot: we're not yet seeing a trend that would support the idea that oil is working its way up from the Macondo reservoir and turbocharging the existing natural seeps in the area, or forming new sites of chronic leakage.  But we don't have enough imagery yet to say for certain it isn't happening.  All we can do is keep looking, and compare what we're seeing now with images of this area from before the BP / Deepwater Horizon spill began last April.  We're working now on getting those historical images so we can establish that pre-spill baseline.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Major Sediment Runoff Affecting Chesapeake Bay - How Much From Drilling?

The one-two rainfall punch thrown by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee landed hard on the chin of the mid-Atlantic and New England, bringing record amounts of rainfall and causing epic flooding from Washington, DC to Vermont.  Now we're seeing one of the results: a torrent of river water laden with runoff is pouring into bays and estuaries along the Atlantic coast.  Yesterday afternoon's MODIS/Terra satellite image shows this impact on Delaware Bay and the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay:
MODIS/ Terra image taken September 12, 2011, showing sediment-laden runoff (pale brown) from the Susquehanna River filling the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay.  

This runoff consists of sewage overflows and sediment and other contamination washing off farmer's fields, construction sites, and impervious surfaces like roads, parking lots and rooftops.  It's a big shot of bad news for aquatic critters and the stuff we like to eat from the Bay - oysters, rockfish and crabs - and it's not too great either for the communities along the way that get their drinking water from these rivers and streams.   

One of our concerns is that one-third of the Bay watershed lies on top of the Marcellus Shale drilling play, and we expect tens of thousands of new construction sites in the area over the next several years as companies clear land to drill wells, install pipelines, and build support facilities.  These sites represent potential new sources of runoff and surface water contamination, and given the precarious state of health of the Bay,we think this potential needs to be seriously evaluated and, if necessary, mitigated and better regulated to ensure the Bay doesn't suffer as this gas resource is developed.  

This photo taken by our intern Ben Pelto this weekend illustrates the problem: severe erosion and obvious runoff from one of the many miles of new gas pipeline under construction in Pennsylvania to support the shale-drilling boom. Note the silt fences down at lower right (near the small green sign that says "Wetlands Boundary"!) and the lack of any runoff control structures perpendicular to the pipeline cut as it comes down this typically steep hillside - a recipe for disaster even with a common summer cloudburst, as any trail manager could attest:

Erosion along new gas pipeline right-of-way in the Chesapeake Bay watershed (Susquehanna River basin), north-central Pennsylvania.  Photo taken by SkyTruth intern Ben Pelto on September 10, 2011.
 We're also starting to see disturbing but unsurprising pictures of flooded drilling sites and beat-up, pushed-around pieces of equipment like the tanks that hold drilling mud and fracking fluid.  That's because, unbelievably, most states allow industry to drill in high-risk floodplains.   Our friends at LightHawk are flying over the areas affected by flooding, including the Wysox Creek watershed where we collected water quality measurements earlier this summer.  When their aerial pics become available we'll share them here, along with more from Ben's trip this weekend.

UPDATE  9/16: see aerial pics of flooding, Marcellus Shale drilling sites, and pipeline construction (and a few beauty shots!) in the upper Susquehanna basin taken by J Henry Fair during a LightHawk overflight on Monday, September 12. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Platform 23051 Site - Still Leaking, Magically!

Back on September 2 somebody submitted a pollution report to the National Response Center indicating an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and it popped up in the SkyTruth Alerts system.  That's depressingly common - there are typically a dozen or so reports of spills every day in the Gulf.  And this one came from a familiar place, the site of a former oil platform (#23051) about 12 miles off the tip of the Mississippi Delta, in Mississippi Canyon Block 20.  We've been systematically documenting a chronic leak there since we first became aware of it last summer during the unrelated BP / Deepwater Horizon spill. 

But the September 2 report is magical:  The caller - presumably an employee of or contractor for the company - claimed a spill totalling 0.0000027 gallons.  That's 1/500th of a teaspoon
  • Magic Act #1: How did they measure it?  
  • Magic Act #2: This vanishingly minuscule spill somehow created an observable oil slick 1,000' long and 200' wide, covering a total area of 4.6 acres with a "silvery sheen." 
Silvery sheen is at least 0.04 to 0.3 microns thick.  By our calculation, that's a slick containing 0.2 to 15 gallons.  Sure, 2/10ths of a gallon isn't much, but it is 74,000 times larger than the caller reported. Maybe this was a simple transcription error at the NRC.  But if not, this one gets the prize for ridiculousness, reinforcing our evolving theory that polluters are consistently underreporting the amounts of pollution. Cumulatively, given thousands of reported spills a year, these unreported amounts add up to a much bigger mess than the public has been lead to believe.  In a place like the western and central Gulf, maybe this is no big deal; but in new places where we're moving ahead with drilling - the Virginia coast, the Arctic Ocean - the routine leaks and spills associated with coastal industrialization and offshore drilling might not be so easily shrugged off by tourists, fishermen, and the environment.

And by the way, we're seeing a lot more than 5 gallons in the ongoing spill - 24/7/365 since September 2004 - from this hurricane-damaged cluster of wells.  The MODIS /Aqua satellite image below, taken on September 10, shows a slick originating at the 23051 site that extends almost 35 miles. And the radar satellite image at bottom, taken on August 30, shows a slick at the site that stretches about 13 miles. We've collected dozens of images showing slicks at this site routinely stretching more than 10miles.
Detail from MODIS satellite image taken September 10, 2011 showing 35-mile-long slick emanating from 23051 site at left.
Radar satellite image taken August 30, 2011, showing 13-mile-long slick at 23051 site at upper left.
We suspect that some of the oil slicks and occurrences of tarballs and other oil on the Louisiana coast are probably coming from this location, not from the BP / Deepwater Horizon site 40 miles offshore.  To help eliminate this possible source of confusion, scientists from National Wildlife Federation are taking a boat out today -- guided by SkyTruth's maps, coordinates, and image analysis -- to collect a sample of the oil slick at the 23051 site.  We hope to get that sample chemically "fingerprinted."  As always, we'll report the results right here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Slicks From August 30 - Back Again Today?

Tropical Storm Lee is long gone, the clouds are clearing, and the MODIS/Terra satellite image taken of the Gulf this afternoon seems to show a patch of dark slick located in the same place as the slicks documented by Bonny Schumaker on her August 30 overflight and confirmed on a radar image taken that same day.  The dark patch under the yellow marker is roughly the same size, too, about 14 miles x 5 miles.  And as before, there is no obvious connection between this patch of slick and BP's Macondo well site.  Maybe it's coming from something else.  We just don't know yet.

Weather permitting Bonny may fly out there again tomorrow.

Detail from MODIS / Terra satellite image taken September 9, 2011 showing dark patch in same location as oil slicks observed on August 30.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gulf Overflight and Radar Image (August 30) Now in Google Earth

Our friends at SarSea created an interactive Google Earth file (get it here) that shows the flight path of Bonny Schumaker's August 30 overflight and the photos and video she took of the oil slicks she observed during that flight. Here's an overview that also shows the location of the Macondo well - the source of last year's BP / Deepwater Horizon oil spill - and the 23051 Site where we've been watching a chronic leak from a cluster of wells that were damaged by Hurricane Ivan waaaay back in 2004, overlain on an Envisat ASAR radar satellite image that was taken at about 11pm that night:

Bonny Schumaker's August 30 flight path and photo points, overlain on August 30 radar satellite image. Envisat ASAR image courtesy European Space Agency.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Meanwhile, Fires Rage in Texas

Texas is being hit hard by a one-two punch of severe drought and wildfire (here's an interactive map of the  fires).  The same MODIS image that showed the beauty of the Mississippi Delta yesterday also starkly reveals the plumes of smoke from those Texas fires, drifting across nuch of the eastern and southern parts of the state. They sure could have used some of that rain from Tropical Storm Lee.

MODIS/Aqua satellite image taken September 6, 2011, showing pale gray plumes from wildfires in Texas and smoggy pall of drifting smoke across the southern part of the state.

Gorgeous Mississippi Delta

Let's start the day with something pretty: yesterday's MODIS/Aqua satellite image of the Gulf is one of the most beautiful views of the Mississippi Delta that I've ever seen. Tropical Storm Lee has just moved inland after drenching the coast, and the patterns of turbidity and sediment fringing the vibrant green vegetation are stunning. Wish I was down there fishing today!

Click for a larger version, and enjoy:

Where the water mingles with the land: MODIS/Aqua image showing Mississippi Delta and Louisiana coast on September 6, 2011.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

ConocoPhillips Oil Spill in Bohai Bay - They Have Company

The Chinese government and fishermen are really hammering ConocoPhillips over their recent and apparently still unresolved pair of oil spills from two platforms at the Penglai 19-3 offshore field in Bohai Bay.  We observed small oil slicks there on a radar image taken on June 11. Reports of continued leakage from one of the platforms, where they were injecting drilling fluids beneath the seafloor for disposal, suggest they may have cranked up the pressure too high and ruptured the well casing.  Good thing that's not a high-pressure production well or we could be looking at a major multi-month spill.

Here's a new version of the June 11 image, with a scale bar and some helpful annotation pointing out what we infer to be the Penglai 19-3 oil field based on maps and descriptions of the location that we've read (does anyone have actual lat/lon coordinates? call us!).  We've also marked slicks and a couple of vessels with distinctive wakes (there are more - pick 'em out!): 
Detail from Envisat ASAR satellite radar image of Bohai Bay, China, showing oil slicks and offshore oil platforms at what we infer to be the location of the Penglai 19-3 offshore oil field.  Image taken on June 11, 2011, courtesy of the European Space Agency.
We're not making any excuses for the problems caused by ConocoPhillips, but we've been looking at radar satellite images of the Bay and it seems pretty clear that there is routine oil pollution throughout the Bay that is not attributable to the Penglai field operation.  Penglai 19-3 lies just south of a major east-west shipping lane where we see slicks, probably from vessels, on a couple of images.  Here's an example, showing an obvious slick from a vessel that stretches for nearly 40 miles:
Detail from Envisat ASAR image taken on August 21, 2011, showing an area in Bohai Bay about 60 miles north-northeast of the June 11 detail above. Slick from vessel is about 40 miles long.
So ConocoPhillips may be fouling the Bay, but it appears they're not the only ones.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

August 30 Oil Slicks In Gulf - Closest Facilities

Tropical Storm Lee is drenching the Gulf and has put the kibosh on any Gulf Monitoring Consortium investigations for the next few days (even radar satellite images will be screwed up by the heavy rain and gusty winds), so we'll have to wait and see what next week brings.  In the meantime, one of our Facebook friends (thanks Judson!) prompted us to give a little more info about the oil and gas facilities closest to the August 30 oil slicks (shown as orange dots on this image):

BP's Horn Mountain platform - located in Mississippi Canyon Block 127 about 8 miles east-southeast of the August 30 slicks, this manned "spar" structure was installed in 2002.  It is connected to the Destin natural gas pipeline system that was shut down on August 30 because it was producing too much liquid.

Exxon's Mica subsea manifold - located in Mississippi Canyon Block 211 about 8 miles south-southwest of the August 30 slicks.  This structure on the seafloor produces oil and gas that is transported by pipeline to the Pompano platform about 27 miles away.  This "subsalt" discovery marked a milestone in Gulf production. 

We don't have any information that either of these facilities is experiencing any problems, but they are both closer to the August 30 oil slicks than the BP / Deepwater Horizon site, which is about 15 miles away.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Radar Satellite Image Shows Oil Slicks Seen August 30

An Envisat ASAR satellite radar image of the Gulf taken at about 10:50 pm local time on August 30 shows distinctive slicks corresponding with video and photos taken during an overflight earlier that day by Bonny Schumaker / On Wings of Care.  This image is complicated - NOAA/NODC data buoys in the area recorded very low wind speed (2-3 meters/sec) when the satellite passed overhead, near the lower limit for oil slick detection.  The thin spaghetti-like strands of dark slick throughout this area are most likely tendrils of natural surfactants that commonly appear on low-wind radar images of the ocean surface.  But the size, shape and appearance of a 14-mile-long slick that seems to originate at the 23051 Site matches many observations we've made on satellite imagery since we discovered a chronic leak at that location. And the large dark patch at the location of the August 30 overflight apparently confirms Bonny's observations with an area of slick covering about 122 square kilometers. Given a minimum observable thickness on radar of 0.1 microns under these low-wind conditions, that would represent a minimum of 3200 gallons of oil.

First, here's what the August 30 radar looks like.  The Mississppi Delta is the bright birds-foot pattern on the left edge of the image.  Water is medium-gray; slicks are black:
Envisat ASAR image taken August 30, 2011 about 10:50 pm local time. Image courtesy European Space Agency.
Here's the same chunk of image with markers showing the chronically leaking 23051 site, the Deepwater Horizon wreckage site, and the location of Bonny's August 30 oil slick photos and video. Seafloor pipelines in yellow; recently troubled Destin pipeline shown in brown; active oil and gas platforms and other structures, including seafloor manifolds, are orange dots; natural seep locations are green dots:
Same area with features of interest marked. Image courtesy European Space Agency.
Zooming in, here's the August 30 radar image again showing a distinct patch of slick about 16 miles northeast of the BP / Deepwater Horizon oil spill site.  Orange dots are active oil and gas production facilities (platforms, manifolds):

Detail from Envisat ASAR image taken August 30, 2011 about 10:50 pm local time. Image courtesy European Space Agency.
Same area with other features marked for reference (pipelines in yellow, natural seeps are green dots). The brown highlighted pipeline is part of the Destin gas pipeline network, operated by BP, that was coincidentally (?) shut down on August 30:

Detail from Envisat ASAR image taken August 30, 2011 about 10:50 pm local time. Image courtesy European Space Agency.
Here's what the same patch of Gulf looked like on a radar image taken four days earlier, on August 26.  A small, 4-mile-long slick is visible just above the word "wreckage" - it's about equidistant from a subsea manifold in the area and a couple of natural seeps, so either of these could be the source.  But this slick doesn't seem related to the large patch observed on August 30:
Detail from Envisat ASAR image taken August 26, 2011. Image courtesy European Space Agency.
As usual, we'll keep looking at this area as we get new imagery and information, and will let you know what we learn.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Problems With Major Gas Pipeline in Gulf

Yesterday BP shut down a major natural-gas pipeline in the central Gulf of Mexico because it's producing too much liquid.  Today they announced the shutdown will be extended because of a potential tropical storm brewing in the Gulf. The Destin pipeline (here's a nice map) is a major piece of offshore oil and gas infrastructure, collecting natural gas from platforms in the Mobile, Viosca Knoll, Main Pass and - wait for it - Mississippi Canyon areas.  The cause of the fluid buildup, and the type of fluids involved, was not reported.  It's not uncommon for natural gas wells to also produce liquid gas condensate, an assortment of hydrocarbon liquids, in various quantities.

Oil and gas pipelines in the central Gulf of Mexico (yellow). Locations are marked for recently sighted oil slicks and the epicenter of a shallow (5.1 km depth) magnitude 3.5 earthquake that struck on February 18, 2011 (data from USGS).

Now allow us to indulge in some wild speculation:  IF there is seawater in the pipeline (and we don't know that), it could mean that some part of the offshore Destin pipeline network has been damaged.  It may just be coincidence that one of the feeder lines on the Destin map, labeled R-13, is the closest pipeline to the oil slicks observed in the Gulf during an overflight two days ago, reported in our blog yesterday.  This is the yellow line on our map located about 5.7 miles northeast of the location where slicks were observed.  And there was a shallow, magnitude 3.5 earthquake very close to the Destin pipeline, just off the mouth of Mobile Bay, back in February.  Maybe the line got a little shook up by that small quake.  Is it possible that the slicks documented in this area on August 30 are in some way related to the shutdown of this pipeline? 

Anyone have more information to share?