New Orleans — Remote-operated vehicles were deployed this week to the underwater site of the Macondo well to determine the source of a surface oil sheen that was first reported September 16.
Tests on the sheen concluded that the oil found matched the fingerprint of oil from the Macondo 252 well, the same oil that spewed into the Gulf of Mexico for approximately 90 days after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, 2010, killing 11 men.
Samples were collected Wednesday after video from the ROV showed “apparent oil globule leaking from the containment dome at approximately 15 globules per minute, which is estimated to be fewer than 100 gallons per day,” according to a news release sent Thursday from the Deepwater Horizon Incident joint information center.
The 40-foot tall containment dome was used in an unsuccessful attempt to cap the well, after which it was moved and placed in its current position approximately 550 yards away from the well head.
The ROV also inspected the original well area, including the wreckage of the rig, debris relief wells and the riser on the sea floor.
No oil leakage was observed from that area, according the release.
A lab analysis will be conducted to determine if oil leaking from the containment dome is the likely source of the sheen.
“The Coast Guard is further evaluating what is believed to be seepage from the containment dome to determine how best to respond,” said Capt. Duke Walker, federal on-scene coordinator for the Deepwater Horizon response.
ROV operations were observed by the Coast Guard, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the Department of Interior’s Trustee, BP, Transocean and state on-scene coordinators from Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.
There is no estimate at this time regarding how much oil may be trapped in the containment dome, BP spokesman Brett Clanton said.
A video of the ROV inspections will be available in full at www.RestoreTheGulf.gov.