Only one day after declaring there was no oil leaking from the well underneath the destroyed Deepwater Horizon oil rig, the Coast Guard announced two leaks were found Saturday.
Gulf of Mexico - The United States Coast Guard describes the leaks as "very serious," after finding two sources of leaks Saturday. The underwater robot found the leaks, and the Coast Guard says it does not know how long the oil has been gushing out of the well. They said it was possible the leak had begun Thursday when the Deepwater Horizon rig sank after burning for days.
Stormy weather is preventing any clean-up of the oil already released, although efforts are still ongoing to prevent the oil from contaminating the Louisiana shoreline. It is not known how the leak will be stopped. A significant amount of oil had already been released from the rig and well during the explosion and subsequent fire.
The eleven missing oil rig crew members are now presumed dead, and the search was called off Friday.
Another company, Smith International Inc., said five of its employees were on the Deepwater Horizon when the explosion and fire occurred. Three of those employees are back safe and sound, but two employees have not been accounted for. President and CEO, John Yearwood, said“We are deeply saddened by this tragic event. Our thoughts and prayers are with our colleagues and the loved ones of those affected.”UPDATE April 25, 2010:
British Petroleum (BP) issued a press release Saturday, responding to the ending of the search for the eleven missing crew members. "BP today offered its deepest sympathy and condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of those who have been lost following the fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico this week.
Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward said: “We owe a lot to everyone who works on offshore facilities around the world and no words can express the sorrow and pain when such a tragic incident happens.
"On behalf of all of us at BP, my deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends who have suffered such a terrible loss. Our thoughts also go out to their colleagues, especially those who are recovering from their injuries," he said.
He added: "BP will be working closely with Transocean and the authorities to find out exactly what happened so lessons can be learnt to prevent something like this from happening anywhere again."
Transocean, the company that owns the rig, has also issued its sympathies to the families of the missing crew members. President and CEO said Friday, "...These 11 men were fathers, husbands, sons and brothers. And all of them were absolutely first-class professionals and colleagues. The Deepwater Horizon had a tremendous reputation in our company and across the industry, a reputation that was the direct result of the talented individuals who worked on her. I want to say that our thoughts and prayers are with them and their loved ones during this difficult time. I have spoken with a number of the family members today and their courage and dignity was humbling."
According to Transocean, there were 126 workers on the rig when it exploded. 115 made it off the rig safely.
In the meanwhile, the well is leaking oil at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Complicating efforts to contain and recover oil is the weather, which remains stormy; and another emergency.
The Coast Guard estimates the leak is about 5,000 feet below the surface. The oil slick on the surface is now estimated to be around 20 miles by 20 miles, and is 40 miles away from shore. In an update issued early Sunday morning, Rear Admiral Mary Landry, the Incident Commander and Federal On Scene Coordinator said "Our response plan is focused on quickly securing the source of the subsurface oil emanating from the well, clean the oil on the surface of the water, and keeping the response well offshore."
The Coast Guard also reported it had located the Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit about 1,500 feet northeast of the well. An investigation is continuing into the explosion that caused the collapse of the Deepwater Horizon. The investigation is being conducted jointly by Minerals Management Service and the Coast Guard.
BP bears the cost of clean-up and response.
The Coast Guard will resume clean-up efforts, as well as working to shut down the oil leak as soon as the weather permits.