Oil companies, including beleaguered BP, continue to investigate a new sheen in the Gulf of Mexico. They did say there was no immediate indication it was the result of a new oil spill.
Just the thought of a new spill on a region devastated by the April 2010 explosion that killed 11 men and led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, is sending cold shivers down the spines of workers and residents in the area.
BP’s description of the site of the new sheen and a statement from a U.S. official seemed to indicate that the discovery wasn’t near where the Macondo well blew up.
A sheen is a shiny coating that floats on the surface of the water, and could come from leaked or spilled oil. BP did not make clear what the source of the sheen was, but said it was not near “any existing BP operations.”
BP said the sheen was near two abandoned exploration well sites in the Green Canyon Block in the Gulf of Mexico. The Green Canyon Block — a large square-shaped area of water north of Louisiana — is adjacent the Mississippi Canyon Block where the Macondo well blew up.
“They are not investigating any sheens in the vicinity of the BP well,” said Paul Barnard, Operations Controller for the New Orleans sector of the Coast Guard.
London-based BP spokeswoman Sheila Williams said the company had sent a “remote-operated vehicle” to examine the abandoned exploration wells, but declined to go into further detail.
Oil naturally seeps from the floor of the Gulf and there are 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in the Gulf that do not undergo routine inspection after a company plugs them.
BP’s operations in the Gulf of Mexico have seen particular scrutiny following the disaster and it remains the area’s largest leaseholder, but other energy companies have operations in the Gulf as well.
Williams said “there is a lot of sheen in the Gulf of Mexico area” and that the substance did not necessarily come from a BP operation.
“We’re investigating potential sources of the sheen. We’re not a position to say anything more,” she said.