New Gulf Oil Seeps Tied to Another Well
Oil seeps detected near the Deepwater Horizon wellhead aren't natural, yet highlight difficulties in teasing out the cause of leaks in the oil-rich Gulf, experts say.
Although the recently detected seeps apparently aren't natural, they highlight the difficulties in separating the effects of the spill from the background flow of oil that has existed in the Gulf since before the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank in April.
In the oil-rich Gulf (map), there's "nothing unusual" about natural seeps, said Tad Patzek, chair of the department of petroleum and geosystems engineering at the University of Texas, Austin. Natural seeps occur when oil—which is lighter than water—escapes into the water column from highly pressurized seafloor rock, Patzek said.
In fact, more than 1,300 barrels of oil a day seep naturally into the Gulf of Mexico, according to a 2002 report by the