An Integrated Assessment of Oil and Gas Release into the Marine Environment at the Former Taylor Energy MC20 Site

Original report published by: National Centers For Coastal Ocean Science


In September of 2004 hurricane Ivan, a category 3 storm at the time, passed through the northern Gulf of Mexico. Severe wave action attributed to the storm triggered a subsea mudslide that toppled Taylor Energy Company’s (TEC) oil Saratoga production platform A at Mississippi Canyon block 20 (MC20). The superstructure, also known as the jacket, came to rest on the ocean floor approximately 210 m southeast of the original location. The collector bundle containing the original 28 well pipes was also dragged in the direction of the collapsed jacket, breaking off and being buried by deposited sediment at the northwest corner of the final resting place of the structure.

The MC20 site has since been associated with persistent plumes of oil and gas and surface oil slicks. These slicks are visible on the ocean surface from ships and by aerial and satellite remote sensing and have been used as a means of measuring the output of hydrocarbons from the site. However, it was determined that these estimates needed to be compared to collections and measurements from within the water column along with sediment collection for chemical analysis. Additionally, because vigorous and persistent gas plumes have been observed at the site, the flux of hydrocarbon gas at the surface and into the atmosphere was accessed. In response to a request by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), in cooperation with NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration (ORR) conducted a survey at the MC20 site.

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