Another Gulf oil spill: Well near Deepwater Horizon has leaked since at
least April 30
By Ben Raines
June 07, 2010, 6:20PM
Ocean Saratoga.jpgView full size(Courtesy industrialscars.com/J
Fair)A crew boat appears to be spraying dispersant on a slick emanating
from the Diamond Offshore drilling rig Ocean Saratoga, working in
deepwater about 12 miles off the tip of Louisiana. Skytruth, which
monitors environmental problems via satellite, discovered the apparent
leak three weeks ago in a satellite image.The Deepwater Horizon is not
the only well leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico for the last month.
A nearby drilling rig, the Ocean Saratoga, has been leaking since at
least April 30, according to a federal document.
While the leak is decidedly smaller than the Deepwater Horizon spill, a
10-mile-long slick emanating from the Ocean Saratoga is visible from
space in multiple images gathered by Skytruth.org, which monitors
environmental problems using satellites.
Federal officials did not immediately respond when asked about the size
of the leak, how long it had been flowing, or whether it was possible
to plug it.
Skytruth first reported the leak on its website on May 15. Federal
officials mentioned it in the May 1 trajectory map for the Deepwater
Horizon spill, stating that oil from the Ocean Saratoga spill might
also be washing ashore in Louisiana.
The only other mention the Press-Register was able to find of the spill
in federal documents occurred in a May 17 transcript of a U.S. Coast
Guard media conference. In that transcript, Admiral Mary Landry said
that she was unaware there was another drilling rig leaking oil in the
Officials with Diamond Offshore, which owns the drilling rig, said that
they could not comment on the ongoing spill and referred the
Press-Register to well owner Taylor Energy Co., which hired Diamond.
Taylor Energy officials did not return calls seeking comment.
Saturday, the Southwings environmental group flew over the Ocean
Saratoga with photographer J. Henry Fair of Industrial Scars.com and
returned with photos that appear to show a large oil crew boat pumping
dispersants into the water at the spill site.
"It appeared the crew boat had barrels of dispersant on board," said
Tom Hutchings of Southwings, a volunteer organization of pilots who
monitor environmental problems from airplanes.
Henry Fair said that his photos show a large hose coming off the boat
and disappearing into the water with several buoys tied to it. It was
unclear how far the hose extended underwater.
"I see a hose going over the side. The boat was not moving, but it was
making a wake, disturbing the water a lot," Fair said. "I see a glossy
slick that one would usually identify as petroleum, and it goes a long
Officials at the National Response Center said that the spill had been
reported, but would not say when it began. The U.S. Coast Guard did not
immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment.
"We accidentally discovered this spill looking at the Deepwater Horizon
images. The question is, what would we see if we were systematically
looking at the offshore industry?" said John Amos with Skytruth.org.
"Is this an aberration, or are things like this going on all the time?
That's why we are calling for public, transparent monitoring everywhere
offshore drilling is going on in U.S. waters."