A large area of oil sheen has been spotted in the Mississippi Canyon area of the Gulf of Mexico between two of Shell's oil platforms, Mars and Ursa. The company has begun immediate investigations.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the company responded quickly when the sheen was spotted on Wednesday April 11, sending a response vessel and using remote controlled vehicles to check the structures of the drilling platforms.
Fox News says that a US Coast Guard helicopter flew over the area with a pollution officer on board to assess the seriousness of the situation. Shares in Shell dropped on the European stock exchange although there is no evidence that the sheen is caused by an oil leak or that it comes from any of the Shell platforms in the area. Fox News said:
"Sheens spread quickly as oil breaks down and a small amount can cover a large area. Earlier this week, a tanker in the Mississippi River south of New Orleans spilled an estimated 50 gallons of oil. The sheen from the discharge extended almost 30 miles downriver. Other possible sources, aside from oilfield equipment, could include natural seepage from the Gulf bottom and fuel discharged by passing ships headed into or out of the Mississippi River."Business Insider reports that a Shell statement said the oil sheen does not appear to be from any of their operations in the area:
"Shell is continuing to cooperate with federal regulators in their efforts to determine the cause and nature of the sheen, which is estimated to be 6 barrels."
More information on the situation is expected to be released once the Coast Guard has had time to fully assess the oil sheen and prepare its report.