Energy

A New BP Leak in the Gulf of Mexico?

| Thu Aug. 18, 2011 2:15 PM EDT

There's apparently a new oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, and some believe that BP may again be at fault. The sheen was spotted in roughly the same region of the Gulf as last year's spill, but the company says it doesn't believe it's coming from BP's operations. Via the Associated Press:

BP spokesman Daren Beaudo said his company had sent several remotely controlled mini-submersibles into the water over the weekend to investigate the source of the sheen — a shiny coating that floats on the surface of the water which generally comes from leaked or spilled oil — but had concluded "that it couldn't have been from anything of ours."

The company indicated that it appears to be coming from two abandoned exploration well sites in the Green Canyon Block, which is southwest of the the site where the Deepwater Horizon blew up last year and unleashed millions of barrels of oil on the Gulf. Some residents of the region, including this New Orleans lawyer, are arguing that the new sheen is indeed coming from the site of last year's blowout. But the new leak looks to be pretty far away from that site, so I'd wait for more information before making any claims on that front.

But this is a good reminder of something we noted last year, which is that there is plenty of background leakage in the Gulf at any given time. We really don't have a very good idea of how much oil leaks into the water regularly, since we don't really monitor it. But small leaks from day-to-day operations, abandoned wells, and pipelines are fairly common. (There are, of course, also natural seeps.) The massive blowout last year got a whole lot more attention, but oil operations regularly wreak havoc on the Gulf.

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