A new federal study has found that an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that began 14 years ago has been releasing as much as 4,500 gallons a day, not three or four gallons a day as the rig owner has claimed.
The leak, about 12 miles off the Louisiana coast, began in 2004 when a Taylor Energy Company oil platform sank during Hurricane Ivan and a bundle of undersea pipes ruptured. Oil and gas have been seeping from the site ever since.
Taylor Energy, which sold its assets in 2008, is fighting a federal order to stop the leak. The company asserts that the leaking has been slight — between 2.4 and four gallons per day. Oil plumesfrom the seafloor, Taylor executives have said, are from oil-soaked sediment that has formed around the platform, and any gas rising from the bottom is the natural product of living organisms.