'New' Gulf Oil Rig Leak Actually Small, 6-Yr Old Leak

It was an alarming report — an oil sheen ten miles long was spotted at another off-shore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, an indication of a leak. The Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register had a story about what appeared to be a leak from the rig named the Ocean Saratoga.

Yet, Coast Guard officials appeared not to know about the leak when they were asked about it Tuesday.

It turns out there is indeed leaking oil near the Ocean Saratoga but a relatively small amount. And has been leaking for six years. Nearby wells were damaged in 2004 by Hurricane Ivan and has been leaking about a half barrel a day, according to Taylor Energy Co.

SAN FRANCISCO/HOUSTON (Reuters) - Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc shares fell Tuesday on reports of an oil leak near its Ocean Saratoga rig in the Gulf of Mexico — a leak that turned out to be six years old and relatively small.

Some investors and environmentalists had feared the worst given the small leak's proximity to the gusher resulting from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in April.

But the U.S. Interior Department said less than a third of a barrel per day of oil had been leaking from the wells owned by Taylor Energy, Diamond's client, since they were destroyed in a mudslide caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

"There are hundreds of small oil leaks every year in the Gulf of Mexico, and each is reported immediately to the National Response Center to ensure appropriate actions are taken to mitigate all potential environmental impacts," the Interior Department said in an emailed statement.

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