* BP says sheen likely emanating from bent riser pipe on sea
* Transocean says not responsible for oil originating below
* U.S. lawmaker calls for inspection by undersea robots
By Chris Baltimore
HOUSTON, Oct 11 An oil sheen spotted on the Gulf
of Mexico near the site of the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig
matches samples from BP Plc's ill-fated Macondo well, the
U.S. Coast Guard said.
BP reported a sheen on Sept. 16 in block 252 of the
Mississippi Canyon, about 50 miles (80 km) off the Louisiana
coast. Test samples indicate that "the sheen correlates to oil
that originated from BP's Macondo Well", the Coast Guard said in
a statement late on Wednesday.
Swiss-based Transocean Ltd owned the Deepwater
Horizon drilling rig and London-based BP was the operator of the
Macondo well, which ruptured on April 20, 2010, killing 11
workers and unleashing the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
The latest reported sheen is the first in recent months,
although there have been several near the site over the past two
According to the Coast Guard, the sheen likely comes from
wreckage on the sea floor, not the well itself.
"The exact source of the sheen is uncertain at this time,
but could be residual oil associated with wreckage and/or debris
left on the seabed from the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010,"
the Coast Guard said. "The sheen is not feasible to recover and
does not pose a risk to the shoreline."
The Coast Guard notified BP and Transocean that "either
party or both may be held accountable for any cost associated
with further assessments or operations related to this sheen."
BP said it will continue to work with the Coast Guard to
identify likely sources. It said its analysis shows that the
sheen's likely source is a bent riser pipe that once was
connected the rig to the well head.
A BP spokesman said an undersea inspection by BP in
September 2011 confirmed that the Macondo well was sealed, and
"we have seen no evidence from this latest sheen that leads us
to believe otherwise."
A Transocean spokesman pointed to a February 2012 ruling
from U.S. Judge Carl Barbier that Transocean is not responsible
under the Oil Pollution Act for undersea oil discharges from the
"We will rely on the lab analysis as to the origin of the
oil, and defer to the recent ruling of the federal court on the
question of responsibility," Transocean spokesman Lou Colasuonno
A U.S. lawmaker said the U.S. government should require BP
to utilize remotely operated undersea vehicles to survey the
ocean floor around the site.
"BP must do everything in its power to ensure this well does
not rupture or leak, and they should be held responsible if it
does," said U.S. Representative Edward Markey, a Massachusetts
Democrat. "BP still has billions to pay to the people of the
Gulf and the U.S. government, but the Gulf region also deserves
the peace of mind that this well is dead once and for all."
Two and a half years ago, the well spewed 4.9 million
barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 straight days,
unleashing a torrent of oil that fouled the shorelines of four
Gulf Coast states and eclipsed the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in
Alaska in severity.
The well was capped with cement on Sept. 19, 2010, which
U.S. officials said had "killed" the leaking well for good.