Energy company sues US over costs from continuing oil leak
NEW ORLEANS — A New Orleans company is challenging a U.S. Coast Guard claim that the company owes millions of dollars in costs and penalties related to a continuing oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.
Taylor Energy’s federal lawsuit, dated Monday, is the latest salvo in a legal battle over a spill that began when Hurricane Ivan toppled a platform in the Gulf in 2004.
The company and the Coast Guard have been at odds over what should be done to halt the leak, how much oil has leaked, and whether oil collected from the scene by a contractor hired by the Coast Guard came from an active flow of oil from the Taylor well site.
In a letter to Taylor officials on June 2, government lawyers say they will seek $43 million to cover costs of removing the oil, plus civil penalties related to the leak.
No coastal environmental damage has been reported from the ongoing seepage.
Two other federal lawsuits filed by Taylor Energy, dealing with orders to contain the spill and the selection by the Coast Guard of a contractor to collect leaking oil, are set for trial in December.
In its latest filing, Taylor points to a study done by experts who have worked as consultants for the company, indicating that the oil collected at the scene came not from a flowing reservoir but from sediment where oil was trapped.
Taylor Energy is named for its late founder, the oilman and philanthropist Patrick F. Taylor. The company says on its website that it sold all its oil and gas assets in 2008 and exists now only to respond to the toppled platform.
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