The U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday it is working with Transocean Ltd. to find out whether last year’s wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon rig is the source of oil sheens that have appeared in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Coast Guard said in a statement that a series of oil sheens—basically a thin carpet of petroleum floating on the surface of the water—spotted in the Gulf in recent months indicate the possibility of a release from the riser pipe or other debris from Transocean’s rig, now on the ocean floor after the April 2010 explosion that killed 11 people.
“The responsible party may be financially accountable for debris removal costs and damages resulting from the pollution incident,” the Coast Guard said.
A Transocean spokesman confirmed the company has been contacted by the Coast Guard concerning the oil sheen and said it’s “committed” to investigate the report. But Transocean, which the owned rig that BP PLC was using to drill the Macondo well, said BP may be the one ultimately responsible.
“If a volume of oil has remained in the riser, there is no question that it is oil from BP’s Macondo well,” said Transocean’s spokesman Brian Kennedy. “As owner and operator, BP is the responsible party for all fluids that emanated from the Macondo well head, and BP has repeatedly acknowledged that responsibility.”
BP didn’t respond to requests for comments. The Coast Guard said video footage of BP’s Macondo oil well shows that it isn’t the source of the sheens.
A Coast Guard spokeswoman said the agency will work with Transocean to determine whether or not the wreckage is the cause. “Once a cause has been determined, we will move forward with the most appropriate course of action,” she said.
The announcement is another kink in the fallout of the three-month oil spill that began April 20, 2010, which resulted from the blowout of the Macondo well. The accident killed 11 people and released millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf.
By BEN LEFEBVRE, Copyright 2011 Dow Jones