Australian offshore oil leak continues

Oct. 7, 2009 at 2:17 PM

CANBERRA, Australia, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- An Australian offshore drilling rig off Kimberley is continuing to leak oil after a failed attempt to cap it.

The Australian reported Wednesday that about 400 barrels of oil each day are continuing to erupt from a damaged offshore drilling rig off Western Australia's Kimberley coast after the failure of an attempt to stop the leak with mud failed. The leakage is now Australia's third-largest oil spill.

The facility's operator, PTT Exploration and Production Public Co. Ltd. (PTTEP Australasia), said another attempt to staunch the spill would be made shortly, with an operation involving trying to intersect a 9.8-inch piece of steel-casing about located 1.6 miles under the seabed. PTTEP Australasia's drilling team hopes to pinpoint the exact location of the leak before making its next attempt.

Because of the complexity of the repair operation, new attempts can be conducted only every three to four days, raising concerns among environmentalists. The well, about 125 miles from the Kimberley coast, has been leaking since August and created a massive toxic slick.

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