A collision between an oil tanker bound for Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Beaumont refinery and an outbound vessel towing barges resulted in a major crude-oil spill in the port of Port Arthur, Texas on Saturday.
The U.S. Coast Guard says about 450,000 gallons of crude oil has spilled into the Port of Port Arthur area in southeast Texas after two vessels collided.
The U.S. Coast Guard said that the towing vessel and the two barges it was pushing tore a hole on the side of the 807-foot tanker Eagle Otome at about 9:30 a.m. CST, spilling an estimated 450,000 gallons of crude oil, or about 11,000 barrels. The Sabine Neches Waterway is closed to all vessel traffic along Port Arthur’s river front, the Coast Guard said in a news release.
The Coast Guard said early Sunday that the oil spill had been contained to a two-mile area, according to the Associated Press. Coast Guard Capt. J.J. Plunkett said initial reports indicated none of the oil in the Texas spill had affected area marshes or hurt any local wildlife. He said officials believed the oil spill was "pretty much contained’ in a stretch of the Sabine Neches Waterway, where the spill took place and that runs along the city of Port Arthur. Capt. Plunkett said the cleanup effort was expected to last at least through Sunday.
An Exxon Mobil spokesman said in an email that the incident involved vessels chartered by Exxon Mobil subsidiary companies, and that the amount of oil that spilled from the Eagle Otome was "undetermined. "The vessels involved are reported to be in stable condition," spokesman Kevin Allexon said in an email to Dow Jones Newswires.
Port Arthur, located about 90 miles east of Houston, is home to key fuel-producing facilities such as the 275,000-barrel a day Motiva refinery, jointly owned by Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Saudi Arabian Oil Co ; Total SA’s 174,000 barrels a day refinery, and Valero Energy Corp.’s 310,000-barrels-a-day refinery.
The Port Arthur spill can be described as large, according to the classification established by the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd., which tracks oil spills around the world. According to the ITOPF, large spills are those that are over 700 metric tons. The size of the Port Arthur spill is estimated at about 1,500 metric tons. The spill is the second to afflict the Texas coastline recently ; in October, a supply vessel crashed against a Liberian-flagged oil tanker offshore of Galveston, resulting in an 18,000 gallon oil spill—equivalent to about 429 barrels of oil or 58 metric tons.