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Tuesday September 30th 2014

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Congressmen Want BP’S Sheen Specifics

Two members of the U.S. Congress have requested that BP turn over all information pertaining to the current oil sheen in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil company is currently investigating the source of a sheen that appeared in mid-September at the site of the 2010 oil spill.

Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)—ranking members of the Natural Resources Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee, respectively—were two of the leading congressional investigators during the 2010 spill. Yesterday, the congressmen wrote a letter to BP Chief Executive Officer Robert Dudley to request that the company provide information pertaining to the current slick at the Macondo site.

In the Oct. 16 letter, Markey and Waxman request a briefing from BP by the end of October. They also pose the following series of questions to the oil company CEO:

Over what period of time will that subsea examination be conducted? What is the size of the area that will be examined?

The Coast Guard reportedly stated that the sheen “could be residual oil associated with wreckage and/or debris left on the seabed from the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010.” Does BP plan to conduct a subsea examination of the wellhead, all the riser drill pipe, and all of the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon so that the exact source of any leaking residual oil can be identified, contained and captured? Is there any debris or wreckage that BP does not plan to survey?

Does BP plan to examine the sea floor surrounding the Macondo well to ensure that oil is not migrating and escaping from locations on the sea floor away from wellhead? Why or why not?

According to press reports, the assessment that the oil in the sheen is likely coming from the riser is due to the presence of drilling mud. What is the maximum volume of oil that BP believes could be trapped in the riser pipe? Does BP believe it is possible to remove any oil trapped in the riser to prevent further degradation of the environment?

How much oil or other drilling fluids could be expected to be trapped in the riser or other wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon? Have there been other instances of leakage from the wreckage? If so, please list each such instance, and qualify the amount of oil released and the actions taken by BP in response to these releases.

In 2010, Markey was instrumental in getting BP to provide the live video feed that showed oil spewing from the Macondo well head on the gulf floor. According to the Coast Guard, BP is currently using a remotely operated vehicle to attempt to locate the source of the current oil sheen.