Public Lab Wiki documentation

Shell Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

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Public Lab is part of the Gulf Monitoring Consortium, an alliance launched after the BP Disaster of 2010. Members and partners of the Consortium have been posting information about the recent Shell oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and we will be linking to those resources and updating this wiki page in the weeks ahead.

Currently, the spill is located 97 miles off the shore of Louisiana. Due to this distance asea, our particular tools and methods of aerial mapping are not easily applicable. As the situation develops, we remain open to helping where we can. We leave this page open for updates on the situation.

Documentation of the Shell Spill

Documentation from On Wings of Care:
May 18, 2016 blog: Revisiting the site of last weeks Shell Oil Spill
May 15, 2016 blog: Shell Oil Spill, offshore Gulf of Mexico
Flyover video from May 15, 2016

Documentation from Vanishing Earth:
May 18, 2016 blog: Unseen Video of Shell's Gulf Oil Leak
May 14, 2016 blog: Shell Gulf of Mexico Oil Leak

Documentation from SkyTruth:
NEW Interactive map of existing oil and gas platforms and active pipelines in the Gulf. To use: Click on any platform and some helpful info pops up (name, block location, company, water depth, installed date, etc).
Click on "visible layers" at upper right to toggle the data on and off. Enter a location in the search bar to zoom to that place. Or just manually zoom in and pan around at will.

May 16, 2016 blog: Oil Spill Response is a Joke

Articles on
May 16, 2016: Researchers in Gulf to Study Shell Oil spill
May 12, 2016: Shell: Damaged flowline caused oil spill in Gulf of Mexico
May 12, 2016: Shell spills 88,000 gallons of crude oil off Timbalier Island: Coast Guard

Video from Greenpeace USA [May 20, 2016 upload] (

Additional Coverage:
NEW May 19, 2016 article from Desmog: Shell Oil Spill Cleanup Operation Ends As Voices Against New Gulf Drilling Grow Louder

Map being created by Scott Eustis (@eustatic) of Shell Offshore Inc's pipelines from the public BOEM data. If you are interested in contributing to this map, the BOEM data lives [here](

Key points of the crisis

  • Started Thursday, May 12, 2016
  • Spill of >88,200 gallons (2100 barrels) leaked from subsea pipeline
  • Four subsea wells combine to Brutus platform; no drilling at these wells
  • Coast Guard said Thursday that source of leak was secured; cause for leak under investigation; subsea oil field remains “shut-in” until cause and contributing factors identified
  • Oil spill identified by Shell helicopter (GG note to self -- read more about why helicopter there)
  • 97 miles off the shore of Louisiana
  • Slick 2 miles x 13 miles wide
  • Slick heading west, Shell says unlikely to reach shore
  • Skimming oil from surface water to remove it
  • Using IR aerial cameras to identify slick to be skimmed
  • By May 16th, had removed 76,600 gallons of “oily-water mixture” -- not sure what that means in terms of volume of oil
  • Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) approved Shell’s plan and BSEE inspector will be onboard to observe recovery operations

Organizations on the ground

Local public events around the issue

Questions being asked

Media sources

Government response:

BSEE map