The apparent source of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico following Hurricane Ida has been identified as a one-foot diameter pipeline displaced from a trench on the ocean floor and broken open by a private team of divers.
The Houston-based company Talos Energy, which is paying for the cleanup, said in a statement released Sunday evening that the ruptured pipeline is not theirs.
The company said it is coordinating the response with the U.S. Coast Guard and other state and federal organizations to determine who owns the broken pipeline.
Aerial photographs released by the Associated Press on Wednesday showed a miles-long brown and black oil slick extending approximately 2 miles south of Port Fourchon, La. At roughly 34 feet deep, the broken pipe is in comparatively shallow water.
Two additional 4-inch pipelines have also been discovered in the open and abandoned area. Although the company's statement did not specify whether oil was leaking from the two smaller pipelines, satellite images reviewed by the AP on Saturday appeared to show at least three separate slicks in the same area, with the largest drifting more than a dozen miles eastward along the Gulf coast.
The rate of oil coming to the surface has dropped drastically in the last 48 hours, according to Talos, and no new heavy black crude has been spotted in the last day.
The spill appears to have stayed out to sea so far, with little impact on the Louisiana coastline. The amount of oil in the water has yet to be determined.
The AP was also the first to report on images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Survey that showed widespread flooding and what seemed to be petroleum in the water at the vast Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery south of New Orleans.
Following the release of the photos by the Associated Press, the Environmental Protection Agency dispatched a specially equipped survey plane to fly over the refinery on Thursday, as well as other industrial sites in the hurricane's path of 150 mph winds and storm surge.
The recent oil spill is one of dozens of reported environmental hazards in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico that regulators are addressing in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
The Category 4 hurricane was one of the most powerful to ever hit the Gulf Coast of the U.S. It made landfall in Louisiana last Sunday, destroying entire communities.