Mystery Slicks in Central Gulf – East Cameron South, Block 321

Every now and then we see something in SkyTruth Alerts that catches our eye. For the past few days we’ve noticed repeated reports of an unknown oil slick sighted near some platforms near Block 321 in the East Cameron (South Addition) area of the central Gulf of Mexico, about 92 miles off the Louisiana coast. We also see two slicks in the vicinity on an Envisat ASAR satellite radar image taken about noon local time on March 14.  The slicks aren’t particularly big, on the image or in the reports, but their persistence in the area under strong winds blowing steadily from the southeast suggests that there is a continuous source of oil leaking at this site.  This is close to a major international shipping lane for the port of Houston, and there are also quite a few platforms and pipelines in the neighborhood:

Radar satellite image taken March 14, 2012 showing a pair of small slicks near the vicinity of oil slick sightings reported to the National Response Center on March 14, 15 and 16 (red markers). Orange lines and dots are pipelines and platforms. Image courtesy European Space Agency.

The water depth here is about 200-300 feet (note that a pipeline in this area was damaged during drilling operations back in 1978). Oil slick sightings were reported to the National Response Center, probably by personnel on the nearby platforms, on March 14, 15 and 16.  No source or cause is indicated in the reports.  We don’t know if there is any active drilling occurring in the area.

If anybody wants to swing on by and take a look, the center of the slick at right is located at 28.197404° North latitude / 92.783588° West longitude.