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Shell oil platform did not break loose during Hurricane Ida

August 30, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: The Shell-operated deep water oil platform known as the “Mars/Olympus” platform has broken loose following Hurricane Ida and is now “free within the Gulf of Mexico.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The U.S. Coast Guard and Shell confirmed the oil platform did not break loose.

THE FACTS: As Hurricane Ida slammed into Louisiana Sunday, a Facebook account called Mississippi Weather Network claimed to provide a breaking news update that a Shell oil platform had broken loose. Screenshots of the post were shared widely on social media.

Later that day, Mississippi Weather Network notified its readers it had taken down the post “until further information can be verified by the oil company(ies) in question or U.S. government officials.” The administrators of the page wrote that they rely on reports from the public. “We may not always get it right, but we never purposefully get it wrong to mislead anyone,” the update reads.

The U.S. Coast Guard conducted a flyover of the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday that revealed no oil platforms had broken loose, according to an agency statement.

On Monday, Shell issued a hurricane update on its website sharing the results of the U.S. Coast Guard flyover.

“The United States Coast Guard reported visual confirmation that the Shell-operated Mars, Olympus, and Ursa platforms remain on location,” the company’s statement reads. “Shell has scheduled our own flyover tomorrow afternoon to assess these and other assets that were in the path of the storm.”

Shell also performed its own flyover later in the day on Monday and confirmed that its Mars, Olympus and Ursa platforms were all intact and in location.

About 300 offshore platforms were evacuated ahead of Ida, leading to a pause of 80 percent of the gulf’s oil and gas production, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

The oil platform mentioned in the posts online began oil production in 2014 and delivers 1 billion barrels of oil. According to Shell, the Mars B development, which includes the Olympus production hub, is the seventh and largest floating deep-water platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Ida made landfall Sunday in New Orleans as a Category 4 storm knocking out all power to the city and reversing the flow of the Mississippi River. The Associated Press reported that hurricane winds of 115 mph struck the city of Houma, Louisiana, which supports oil platforms for the Gulf.

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This story has been updated to include the results of Shell’s flyover on Monday.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online.Learn more about fact-checking at AP.