Coast Guard reaches major milestone by containing and removing 1 million gallons of oil from Mississippi Canyon Block 20 site

Published 11:25 am Tuesday, July 12, 2022

NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Coast Guard and partner agencies have successfully contained and collected over one million gallons of oil discharged from subsurface oil wells connected to a toppled oil platform in Mississippi Canyon Block 20 (MC-20), located 11 miles south of the Louisiana shoreline.

As of July 12, 2022, 1,016,929 gallons of oil have been collected from the MC-20 site.

The platform collapsed in 2004 due to Hurricane Ivan, and oil continues to leak from the damaged wells. Since April 2019, oil has been captured, contained, and removed from the site while a permanent plan to effectively and safely decommission the oil wells at the MC-20 site is being developed. A subsea containment system designed, fabricated, installed, and operated by Couvillion Group, LLC,  specifically in response to this incident, continues to collect an average of 900 gallons of oil per day with the Coast Guard overseeing continuous oil collection and necessary system maintenance.

“The near elimination of the surface sheen and collection and removal of more than one million gallons of oil from the site over the previous three years is a major milestone in the Coast Guard’s efforts to contain the MC-20 oil spill that has affected the waters off the Gulf Coast for years,” said Capt. Kelly Denning, the Coast Guard’s Federal On-Scene Coordinator for the incident. “Though the containment system is considered a great success, the federal government is exploring all available response options, including to properly decommission the impacted wells on site.”

On Dec. 21, 2021, a settlement between the United States and Taylor Energy was reached in which Taylor Energy agreed to transfer all remaining funds in the Taylor Energy Decommissioning Trust to the United States. The funds will be used to properly decommission the oil wells which were originally connected to the downed platform at the MC-20 site. The terms of the settlement are outlined in the Consent Decree entered by the District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on March 17, 2022.  Further information about the settlement was made available by the U.S. Department of Justice at https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/taylor-energy-company-pay-over-43-million-and-transfer-432-million-decommissioning-trust-fund.

The response to the active oil spill continues to be led by the Coast Guard Federal On-Scene Coordinator and is supported by its federal partners, including the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Currently, the Coast Guard is gathering key subsurface data which is intended to support future federal efforts to decommission the MC-20 wells which the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and U.S. Coast Guard believe is the necessary step to ultimately bring this incident to a closure.  

Any questions about sub-surface activity or the decommissioning of oil and gas facilities located at the MC-20 site should be directed to BSEE at 1-800-200-4853.