Naturally seeping oil from the seafloor is the likely culprit behind a 10-mile sheen discovered in the central Gulf of Mexico earlier this week, federal officials said Friday.
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in a statement that the agency was working to confirm the natural seafloor seep was the source of the sheen, after it was spotted by a remotely operated vehicle deployed by Shell Oil Co.
Shell operates two deep-water projects near the sheen, located about 130 miles southeast of New Orleans and 56 miles off the Venice, La., coast.
“The remotely operated vehicle 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 that identifies where natural seeps are known to be located,” said BSEE spokeswoman Eileen Angelico. “Initial reports from Shell show that the seep is currently releasing oil and natural gas.”
Of course, Shell had to deploy the ROV and chase down the seep – at what cost? For six barrels?