The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is working to confirm a natural seafloor seep as the source of an oil sheen reported earlier this week in the Gulf of Mexico, following a survey by a remote operated vehicle (ROV) deployed by Shell. The oil sheen is located approximately 130 miles southeast of New Orleans near Shell’s Mars and Ursa platforms. BSEE inspectors report that the sheen is dissipating and does not appear to be expanding.
The ROV was able to investigate a known natural seafloor seep as the likely source of the sheen using information from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) that identifies where natural seeps are known to be located. Initial reports from Shell show that the seep is currently releasing oil and natural gas.
BSEE Director James Watson praised the effective coordination of government agencies and industry to move quickly in working to identify the source of the sheen and monitor the situation. “We worked closely with our sister agencies to coordinate our efforts as Shell mobilized their ROVs to investigate the source of the sheen,” he said. “We appreciate Shell’s diligence in responding, as well as the efforts of the men and women of BSEE who continue to work hard to quickly resolve this situation.”
The bureau will review data taken by Shell’s ROV before making a final determination concerning the source of the sheen.
Known natural seafloor seeps near the platforms were investigated after initial surveys ruled out permanently plugged wells as a possible source.
BSEE will continue to coordinate with Shell and United States Coast Guard to monitor the situation and provide any additional updates as necessary.
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