Friday, March 16, 2012

Chevron Reports Minor Slick From Leak in Campos Basin, Offshore Brazil


Chevron and Brazilian regulators reported that a small, fresh oil slick has appeared near the site of Chevron's blowout last November in the deepwater Frade oil field in Brazil's prolific Campos Basin. This is not entirely unexpected given the nature of the problem that Chevron had with the well being drilled by the SEDCO 706 rig: an unknown amount of oil escaped laterally from the well into surrounding bedrock, and worked its way up to the seafloor along a pre-existing natural fault.  It will take some time for all of that oil to emerge, so we've been anticipating chronic small oil slicks at this location.

But optical satellite imagery of this area (MODIS and MERIS) have had problems with clouds and haze for the past few days, so we haven't seen any sign of the latest slick. Radar images don't have that problem, but the most recent radar image we have was taken at about 9pm local time on March 9, and it looks clean around the SEDCO 706 site:

Detail from radar satellite image taken March 9, 2012, showing area of reported Chevron leak. No slick is apparent. White dots are large metal objects on the water:  drill rigs, FPSOs, oil platforms or vessels.  Orange dots are the locations of FPSOs and platforms from Brazilian government data.  Red marker indicates the location of the SEDCO 706 rig when it was drilling the well that caused the initial leak in November 2011.  Envisat ASAR image courtesy European Space Agency.
We do see a small slick on this image, though, about 80 km south-southwest of the Chevron leak site.  It is quite small, covering about 2 square kilometers, and appears to be associated with Petrobras P38, an FPSO in the Marlim Sul field that recently began handling new production from platform P56:

Small slick apparently associated with Petrobras FPSO P38 in the Marlim Sul Field off Brazil.  Detail from radar satellite image taken March 9, 2012.  Orange dots mark the locations of FPSOs and platforms from Brazilian government data. Envisat ASAR image courtesy European Space Agency.

This appears to be a very small spill -- at 1 micron thick it would only amount to 528 gallons -- but recent spills off Nigeria and affecting the beach at Tramandai in Brazil, should put FPSOs on everyone's radar here in the US.

1 comment:

  1. Brazil bars Chevron executives from leaving over spill - http://edition.cnn.com/2012/03/18/world/americas/brazil-oil-spill/index.html

    ustiça decide que representantes da Chevron não podem deixar o país - http://g1.globo.com/rio-de-janeiro/noticia/2012/03/justica-decide-que-representantes-da-chevron-nao-podem-deixar-o-pais.html

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