Study Reveals Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Is Far Worse Than First Thought

A fifteen-year-old oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is, according to a recent federal study, far worse than was initially thought.

In 2004, an oil spill – which soon became known as the “Taylor oil spill” – began. During Hurricane Ivan, waves of over 80 feet caused the Taylor Energy oil platform to be destroyed, with pipes and wells sinking to the ocean floor and becoming submerged in over 100 feet of mud and sediment. This resulted in an oil spill that Taylor Energy would then spend many years trying to calm.

However, a recent study concluded that the spill is leaking between 380 and 4,500 gallons of oil – or up to 108 barrels – into the Gulf of Mexico every single day. As a result, the spill is at least one hundred times (and potentially as much as one thousand times) worse than the company’s estimates.

Attention was initially drawn to the spill, and questions began to arise over its severity, following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 – which, as the infographic below shows, has in itself caused long-term consequences to the Gulf and surrounding areas.

Following the study, it is now known that the Taylor oil spill is of a far greater magnitude than originally thought. However, opinion remains divided on what should be done in response. In 2018, the US Coastguard installed a “containment system” that is capturing some – though not all – of the oil; though, unfortunately, this is seen as a temporary measure and more wells still need to be plugged in the future.

Infographic Design By University of Alabama Birmingham

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