Topics: New oil sheen observed in the Gulf of Mexico. Federal government okays third drilling permit. BOEMRE director Michael Bromwich and Louisiana senators square off over number of permits pending. Editorial from the New Orleans Times-Picayune about BP's estimate of the spill.
You are in the current Gulf Watchers BP Catastrophe - AUV #489. ROV #488 is here.
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|We have known since the well was capped that there were still oil and gas bubbles leaking from Macando 252. Several ships, including the Development Driller 3 have been reported in the area of the wellhead in recent days. Now there may be a reason for the attention, but it may not be Macando. There may be another leaky deepwater rig in the Gulf.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that the Coast Guard is investigating.
A helicopter crew and pollution investigators have been dispatched to Main Pass Block 41 in response to two calls to the National Response Center, the federal point of contact for reporting oil and chemical spills, said Paul Barnard, an operations controller for Coast Guard Sector New Orleans.
Business Insider reports that the sheen is connected to the deepwater rig Matterhorn Seastar owned by W&T Offshore. W&T Offshore's stock fell like a rock before close of business Friday, which may add some creedence to the possibility that they have a serious problem.
Independent pilots, including John Wathen of the Waterkeeper Alliance, and Bonnie Schumaker with Wings of Care, are currently flying out to investigate the spill. Schumaker reports having seen the sheen on Friday, March 18, and confirms that it is rapidly expanding.
According to FuelFix, information on Saturday seem to indicate the spill is beginning in a different area, however - the block known as Mississippi Canyon 243. That’s the location of the Matternhorn platform, which serves a tie-in for a number of different fields in the area.
Mississippi Canyon 243, lies 30 miles from the Louisiana coastline. The Matterhorn field, at a depth of 2,789 feet (850 meters) of water, was discovered in 1999, leased and permitted in July 2001, and came into production in November 2003. It is located 30 miles SE of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
But before we set our hair on fire and run around screaming and shouting, check this story from UPI in January, that never made it to anyone's headlines, apparently... A search for "oil sheen in Gulf" on the Times-Picayune website returns 1160 hits going back several years.
(January 19, 2011) Oil sheen seen in Gulf of Mexico. U.S. energy company Apache Corp. said it sent an underwater robot to an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico to find the source of a "disturbance."
Before anyone flames me for not screaming enough, my track record with Gulf Watchers is obvious. I am under no circumstances a shill for big oil (I left the field of geology because I could not work with the "drill, baby, drill" attitude) and am a fierce advocate of getting the entire planet off fossil fuels as soon as possible. I want more information on this "spill". Now. I want the TRUTH. NOW. But whatever you would like to believe, we are now hyperaware to any trace of oil where it should not be. Having said that, although oil on the surface (and under the surface) of the ocean is not a good thing, ever, small spills will occur with drilling, and can do major environmental damage. Small ones can usually be dealt with through skimming and natural processes. Large ones, however, should never happen. This particular incident may be eventually prove to be really bad, or it may be a minor problem that should be corrected immediately - and another example of lax, greed-driven drilling.
Update...The sheen/spill could be from dredging.If the dredged material contained settled hydrocarbons, which is most likely, that could account for the oil-like sheen.
Update x2...this may be two separate incidents...oil on beach and booming is one, the "sheen/slick" a second, unrelated incident. From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Oil was released into the Gulf of Mexico south of Grand Isle for four to six hours Saturday, the apparent source of oil that washed ashore on Louisiana beaches Sunday, a Jefferson Parish Council member said.
On Saturday, the Coast Guard received varying reports detailing a sheen between three and 100 miles long, starting about six miles off the coast of Grand Isle. However, the Guard apparently is investigating that as a separate incident.
A third deepwater drilling permit has been granted.....The Department of the Interior on Friday granted a new deepwater permit to ATP Oil & Gas Corporation. The permit is to drill a new well in Mississippi Canyon Block 941, in 4,000 feet of water located 90 miles south of Venice, Louisiana. For the permit to be granted, ATP had to adhere to the new governmental restrictions for containment of a possible blowout, contracting with Helix Well Containment Group to use the (as yet unproven) capping stack to contain oil in the event of an accident.
"This permit approval demonstrates that deepwater drilling can and will continue in the Gulf of Mexico, provided that operators have successfully demonstrated their ability to operate safely," said Michael Bromwich, the U.S. regulator of offshore drilling.
Louisiana Senator David Vitter (R-Pampers) says "someone is misleading the public" in regard to issuing drilling permits, and exactly how many there are.
On Wednesday, Vitter accused the Obama administration of spreading “false” and “misleading” information about the backlog of offshore drilling proposals that are waiting to be reviewed by regulators at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.
Okay...pot, meet kettle...
Investigators in BP's criminal probe are reportedly examining what company officials knew about the Macondo well's flow rate in the early days of last year's spill -- and that's a warranted angle for the probe. After the April 20 blowout, the company initially said only 1,000 barrels a day were spilling into the ocean and later it revised its estimate to 5,000 barrels daily. But congressional investigators uncovered documents showing BP knew then that as much as 14,000 barrels could have been spilling every day. Government scientists eventually pegged the actual flow at 62,000 barrels a day.
And because there is so rarely any good news, here's some from the Independent/UK...
The world's largest tidal stream energy development will be built off the west coast of Scotland.
Tidal energy is also being tested in the Bay of Fundy between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia - tidal range in Fundy can be 50 feet or more. The state of Maine also has areas that could be utilized for tidal power generation.
PLEASE visit Pam LaPier's diary to find out how you can help the Gulf now and in the future. We don't have to be idle! And thanks to Crashing Vor and Pam LaPier for working on this!
Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:
|3-18-11 04:59 PM||Gulf Watchers Block Party: Ballads||BlackSheep1|
|3-18-11 08:12 AM||Gulf Watchers Friday - We Are Royally Screwed - BP Catastrophe AUV #488||Lorinda Pike|
|3-16-11 06:00 AM||Gulf Watchers Wed. - Air Pollution Measuring Advance Comes Out of Spill - BP Catastrophe AUV #487||peraspera|
|3-13-11 11:53 AM||Gulf Watchers Sunday - Another Permit Issued - BP Catastrophe AUV #486||Lorinda Pike|
|3-11-11 07:14 PM||Gulf Watchers Block Party - Talkin Bout My Generation||ursoklevar|
|3-11-11 08:29 AM||Gulf Watchers Friday - Smoke, Mirrors and the Noise Machine - BP Catastrophe AUV #485||Lorinda Pike|
Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.
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