Gulf Oil Sheen Cause: Transocean Rig

Thursday, September 29, 2011 @ 03:09 PM gHale


There is an oily sheen on the surface of the water in the Gulf of Mexico and the cause is still under investigation, but the U.S. Coast Guard seems to think it is the wreckage of Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

The Coast Guard told Vernier, Switzerland-based Transocean the company could be responsible for the pollution. BP Plc’s Macondo well, which erupted in April 2010 off the Louisiana coast and destroyed the rig, is not a suspect in the case of the sheen, Coast Guard officials said.

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The sheen was in the same area of the Gulf that includes the Macondo well, a region known as Mississippi Canyon Block 252. The disaster killed 11 rig workers, injured 17, sank the $365 million rig and shut vast swaths of the Gulf to fishing and tourism for months.

By the time BP cut off the flow of crude from the well after 87 days, more than 4 million barrels of crude had spewed into the sea to make the catastrophe the worst U.S. maritime oil spill. The Coast Guard said video shot on the seafloor by a remotely operated vehicle indicated the sheen didn’t emanate from the Macondo wellhead.

Brian Kennedy, a Transocean spokesman, said any oil or other fluids that may have leaked from the crumpled pipe that connected Macondo to the rig emanated from the well. As such, BP is responsible because the London- based company was operator of the well, he said.

The pipe, known as a riser, had a capacity to hold 200 barrels of crude before it bent and snapped as the rig sank, Kennedy said. Transocean already has agreed to accept responsibility for any diesel or other onboard fluids that may have spilled during the disaster, he said.



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