Ruptured oil rig leaking 2,000 barrels a day 200km off Australia
Millions of litres of oil are pouring into the Timor Sea just 200km from the Australian coast from an oil well that ruptured more than two months ago, scientists have warned.
The West Atlas oil rig 125 miles (200km) off the West Australia coast, has been leaking oil for nine weeks, since it ruptured on August 21. Scientists have described it as a “massive environmental disaster” and compared its long term effects to those of the Exxon Valdez disaster, the devastating oil spill off the Alaskan coast in 1989.
Operators PTTEP Australia estimate that between 300 and 400 barrels of oil a day are leaking into the sea, but the Australian Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism said on Thursday that the leakage could be as much as 2,000 barrels a day.
Thanks to calm weather conditions, the huge oil spill has not yet moved close to coastal waters, but conservationists estimate that it is covering an area of at least 15,000sq km.
Dr Llewellyn said that its distance from shore meant that the impact of the slack was at risk of being ignored by scientists and the population as a whole. “If this was closer to shore there would be global outrage,” she said.