Energy Economy

Secret Oil Spill Could Become Largest in America's History

A series of leaks from oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico would together create the largest oil spill in U.S. history. The sum total of these crude leaks is up to 300 to 700 barrels a day.

According to The Washington Post, the problem goes back to 2004 when a drilling platform owned by Taylor Energy sank during Hurricane Ivan. The Post says that the total volume of the leaks could top that from the BP Deepwater Horizon, a disaster triggered by a platform explosion on April 20, 2010. The well was not capped until July 15. By BP’s estimate, it paid out nearly $8 billion in claims due to the incident, which fouled water through much of the Gulf and shorelines from Louisiana to Florida.

The Post said the leaks might go on for years: “Many of the wells have not been capped, and federal officials estimate that the spill could continue through this century.”

The Louisiana Environmental Action Network has accused Taylor Energy of a cover-up. In 2015, the organization sued the oil company via the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic and the National Environmental Law Center. Taylor agreed to host public forums to answer questions about the leak. Apparently, these did little to cast light on the problem. The Louisiana Environmental Action Network reported in 2015 that:

As a key part of the settlement agreement, Taylor Energy agrees to provide information about the spill since it started in 2004 and open public access to information on an ongoing basis. For the first time in more than a decade Taylor Energy will publicly disclose what it has done to stop the oil leak. The settlement agreement bars Taylor Energy from continuing to broadly object to the release of information about the leak and its efforts to contain it.

Hardly enough disclosure for a series of leaks that could go on for another eight decades.