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New Oil Sheen Taints Spill Settlement

Scientists say that a new oil sheen near the site of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster comes from the well site, but BP disputes the data. The sheen comes at an awkward moment for BP, as it works with federal, state and local officials to work out its liability for damage from the explosion and spill.

Hydrocarbon Processing magazine carried a story in mid-October quoting officials, from Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu to Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon, who is quoted asking: “Is it a leak or is it a gusher? We’re hoping it’s nothing, but in the back of your mind, you wonder, ‘What if?’”

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s office is quoted saying that the state expected BP to clean up.

Also quoted in Hydrocarbon Processing, the Wall Street Journal says it reviewed an internal BP document, suggesting that the oil sheen does not represent a new leak from the well site but a release of oil and mud that had been trapped in the rig. The company says federal officials inspected a similar sheen a year ago and concluded that the well was not leaking.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has set the auction of oil and gas leases on 38 million acres in the Gulf for March 20, 2013.

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