Taylor Energy: Leak in Gulf Mexico not repaired after 10 years

10 years ago, hurricane Ivan hit the Caribbean and the south coast of the USA1 with windspeeds of over 260 kilometers per hour, the storm hit many places including the islands of Greneda2. Almost 100 people died and half of the population was left homeless. The cost of the damage was in the order of a billion USD3.

But recently it has come to light that there was a further consequence of the hurricane. The US news agency “Associated Press” has investigated and found that due to a mudslide in the water, caused by hurricane Ivan, an oil platform owned by Taylor Energy tilted and sank to the seabed about 300 meters from its original position causing plumes of oil to seep from the wells. This occurred only 20 kilometers off the coast of Louisiana4.

According to the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), 25 boreholes associated with the platform, were damaged. The platform has since been removed and the pipeline closed. However, Taylor Energy has only taken measures to plug 9 of the 25 boreholes5.

In the years after the hurricane Taylor Energy was able to keep the spill under wraps and information related to the platform damage was not made public until 2010. The major catastrophe related to BPs Deepwater Horizon in 2010 brought the attention of the public to the region and the issue of Taylor Energy’s platform was once again brought to the fore. Pictures from SkyTruth showed that the boreholes are still leaking oil into the ocean. According to estimates by SkyTruth, about 37 to 900 gallons of oil are flowing into the ocean every day. That’s about 1.1 and 5.3 million liters per year.

But even since 2010 there has been little action taken by Taylor Energy to stop the leak and the resultant destruction of the ocean. Instead, Taylor Energy has put a lot of effort into covering up the actual scale of the leak from the US departments and the public. The reports of the company about the size of the oil slick are substantially different to the reports and evidence gathered by SkyTruth who collected satellite pictures of the region showing significantly more damage. On the 7th of May 2015 SkyTruth identified an oil slick twice as big as what Taylor Energy reported on this day6.

Additionally the operations of Taylor Energy are very opaque and for this reason they have been sued by a number of environmental groups. The company’s president, William Pecue, and does not consider himself or the company legally accountable for the spill as it was as a natural disaster4. The BSEE is demanding compensation from Taylor Energy for the re-establishment of the environment7. Taylor Energy has responded to this by saying that attempts to try to close the leaks will lead to more environmental damage than the current status8.

The widow of the founder, and now owner of the company, is a major donor to Louisiana politicians. Taylor Energy claims that they have already paid about 480 million US-Dollars for the restitution of damages. At least four Louisiana politicians have made efforts to ensure the company gets their payments back. Furthermore, Taylor Energy has begun proceedings against the US government for 432 million US-Dollars to cover potential future expenses of oil disasters.

In 2008 Taylor Energy sold all of their business related to the Offshore-mining of oil and gas and only a small part of the company worked to cover the leak9. Nevertheless, the company spent about 200.000 US-Dollars in 2014 in Washington on lobbying10.

The mining of oil and gas is controversial, not least of all due to accidents and leaks such as those from the Taylor Energy platform and Deepwater Horizon. They have catastrophic effects on the environment and are difficult to contain and repair. The major problem is that leaks like these occur more often than most people are aware of. Between July 2010 and April 2011 there were about 10.000 oil leakages of various sizes reported to the National Response Center (NRC) in the Gulf of Mexico, the majority of which are caused by oil and gas drilling.

Taylor Energy is a private company. You can get further information under this link: http://www.bloomberg.com/profiles/companies/0301454Z:US-taylor-energy-co

  1. http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/hurrikan-ivan-neuer-wirbelsturm-verwuestet-die-karibik-a-317278.html, 09.09.2004, aufgerufen am 31.03.2016 []
  2. http://www.rp-online.de/panorama/ausland/mobilmachung-kuba-flieht-vor-ivan-aid-1.1618866, 12.09.2004, aufgerufen am 31.03.2016 []
  3. http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/wirbelsturm-ivan-fast-100-tote-schaeden-in-milliardenhoehe-a-318640.html, 17.09.2004, aufgerufen am 31.03.2016 []
  4. http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/oil-leak-last-100-years-company-refuses-fix/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=post&utm_term=oil%20spill,Gulf%20of%20Mexico,drilling&utm_campaign=Climate&__surl__=IgNwt&__ots__=1456177737663&__step__=1, 19.02.2016, aufgerufen am 31.03.2016 [] []
  5. http://www.bsee.gov/Inspection-and-Enforcement/Accidents-and-Incidents/Taylor-Energy/Taylor-Energy/Mississippi-Canyon-20-%28MC20%29-Oil-Discharge/, aufgerufen am 31.03.2016 []
  6. http://blog.skytruth.org/2015/05/another-head-scratching-nrc-report-from.html, 12.05.2015, aufgerufen am 31.03.2016 []
  7. http://www.bsee.gov/Inspection-and-Enforcement/Accidents-and-Incidents/Taylor-Energy/Taylor-Energy/Mississippi-Canyon-20-%28MC20%29-Oil-Discharge/, aufgerufen am 31.03.2016 []
  8. http://fuelfix.com/blog/2016/01/20/taylor-energy-executive-blames-decade-old-oil-leak-on-act-of-god/#32194101=5, 20.01.2016, aufgerufen am 31.03.2016 []
  9. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/92ba4691efb04c26ac47d5661e453cd1/company-hold-meeting-decade-old-oil-leak-gulf, 28.12.2015, aufgerufen am 31.03.2016 []
  10. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ebb9e7742552457dbe5d6ed55630c702/lawmakers-back-company-responsible-decade-old-gulf-leak, 16.07.2015, aufgerufen am 31.03.2016 []