The U.S. Coast Guard is currently investigating reports of a potentially massive oil sheen about 20 miles away from the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion last April.
According to Paul Barnard, operations controller for the USCG in Louisiana, a helicopter crew has been dispatched to the site of the Matterhorn SeaStar oil rig, owned by W&T Offshore, Inc.
Multiple reports have come in of a sheen nearly 100 miles long and 12 miles wide originating near the site.
Independent pilots, including John Wathen of the Waterkeeper Alliance, and Bonnie Schumaker with Wings of Care, are currently flying out to investigate the spill. Schumaker reports having seen the sheen on Friday, March 18, and confirms that it is rapidly expanding.
A Louisiana fisherman, who has chosen to remain anonymous at this time, also reports fresh oil coming ashore near South Pass, LA, and that cleanup crews are laying new boom near the beach.
The site of the sheen, near Mississippi Canyon 243, lies 30 miles from the Louisiana coastline. The Matterhorn field, at a depth of 2,789 feet (850 meters) of water, was discovered in 1999, leased and permitted in July 2001, and came into production in November 2003. It is located 30 miles SE of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
According to W&T, the field has produced an average rate of 5,200 barrels of oil per day, and has production capacities of 35,000 barrels of oil per day.