BP Continues to Hide Potential Oil Leak from Seafloor
In response to the outcry about new oil leaking from BP’s Gulf macondo field, BP sent a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) down to the seafloor to investigate the source of the new oil sheen.
BP claims that it found and stopped the source of the oil: a leaking “stovepipe” and side area of the “cofferdam“:
We asked Dr. Ira Leifer – a University of California geochemist who is an expert on natural hydrocarbon oil and gas emissions from the seabed – whether he believed BP’s explanation.
Dr. Leifer told us:
Those “globules” look very weathered, not the type of drops that make slicks.
Dr. Leifer also noted:
I also do not see 100 gals per day, more like 1 gallon equivalent.
Dr. Leifer has expertise in this area: he is the head of the government’s flow study group tasked with estimating the amount of oil released by the BP spill.
We also asked Dr. Leifer if globules like those shown in the video could end up being aggregated in a continuous oil sheen, and he responded:
Depends on the currents and turbulence and shear. However, they still would be unlikely to form a slick. Much more likely to get stuck in the deep sea after aggregating with marine snow…. Of course we only have the video they released, so other video could show something very different….
Top oil spill expert Dr. Robert Bea – a UC Berkeley professor and government consultant – agrees, telling us today:
I do not think the released video justifies the identification of this ‘slow small leak’ as the source of the long-term leak(s) that have been observed in the vicinity of the Macondo well site.
I hope the USCG does not approve BP’s request to abandon the cofferdam in place. BP already has left too much junk left on the sea floor in this area that can have bad effects on the environment and other facilities in this area located on the seafloor.
Dr. Bea previously told us:
With the information that has been released, I remain skeptical that they have found ‘the source’ for the continuing leak(s).
The cofferdam has a limited ‘supply’ … which has already been exposed for a very long period of time to the seafloor environment … including several hurricanes. Thus, it is difficult to understand why it would start leaking recently … and continue to leak.
And Dr. Ian MacDonald – an expert in deep-ocean extreme communities including natural hydrocarbon seeps, gas hydrates, and mud volcano systems, a former long-time NOAA scientist, and a professor of Biological Oceanography at Florida State University- told us 2 weeks ago:
The key statement in the BP discussion was the fact that oil recovered on the ocean surface was not biodegraded. This is not consistent with a pool of oil supposedly trapped in the wreckage of the riser, which would have been exposed to ambient bacterial activity for over two years.