Shell: “Orphan Sheen” Is Not Us

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April 12, 2012

Royal Dutch Shell said Tuesday afternoon that the “light sheen” spotted Monday in the Gulf of Mexico is not likely coming from their nearby operations, or at least there is nothing to indicate that it is.

Shell yesterday was quick to respond after observing a rainbow sheen about 10 miles in length near their Mars and Ursa Platforms located in Mississippi Canyon Block 807 about 130 miles southeast of New Orleans.  After notifying the National Response Center, Shell dispatched one of MSRC’s spill response vessels, the Louisiana Responder, equipped with skimming and boom capabilities to assist with possible cleanup, and requested overflights to conduct aerial surveillance.

Working with the U.S. Coast Guard and the BSEE, Shell inspected the nearby platforms and deployed two ROV’s to inspect local infrastructure as well as search for potential naturally occurring seeps.

Fortunately for all in the end nothing was found and the “orphan sheen” was likely the result of natural seepage, but crews remain on scene to monitor the situation.

In a statement Shell estimated the spill to be six barrels of oil and says it has started to break up and dissipate:

We remain very confident that the sheen did not originate from Shell operations.

It is well studied and documented, most recently by BSEE, that the Gulf of Mexico has a long history of natural occurring seeps, which can on occasion produce sheens.  Shell’s subsea surveillance today and tomorrow will continue to determine if there is a connection between natural seeps and this orphan sheen. – Shell

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