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For more than a decade, Taylor Energy, federal agencies – including Coast Guard, BSEE, BOEM, and NOAA – and state agencies, as well as the world’s leading scientists, have been working on the MC-20 Incident, creating a comprehensive scientific record. Key documents and reports can be accessed below, and more content will be added regularly.

Featured Documents & Reports
Rum-Punch: Time series petroleum biomarker testing of the scenario that an actively leaking oil well is contributing to the MC20 sea surface sheen

2/10/2018

In November 2017, a Unified Command work group of government and independent scientists produced data that confirmed that the sheen is from the release of remnant oil from marine sediments on the ocean’s floor and that there is no evidence to support a leaking well. This report presents an analogy of a “rum punch” scenario. In this example, if a bowl filled with fruit punch was repeatedly spiked with rum, and after each cup of rum was added to the bowl, the rum punch was stirred and an equal sized cup of rum punch was removed, over time the composition of the rum punch would trend toward consistently increasing rum content. Simply put, over time, the bowl would become more rum than fruit punch. At MC-20, if a well was actively leaking, we would see more “new” oil (rum) than weathered oil (punch), but we do not. This analysis supports taking no further action to disturb the contaminated seafloor sediments.

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Consensus Ecological Risk Assessment

2013

In 2013, Taylor Energy’s decommissioning activity was put on “pause” while an “ecological risk assessment” was performed by the Unified Command. That study culminated with the publication of a Consensus Ecological Risk Assessment (“CERA”) report, in which 45 people from 21 different federal and state agencies, as well as private sector expertise, participated. It looked at the current ecological risks and recommended that Taylor Energy (1) not pursue additional well intervention because the ecological risks outweigh the possible benefits and (2) not pursue dredge/dispose or dredge/cap options because the ecological risks outweigh the possible benefits.

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Incident Record
"Character and Dynamics of Surface Sheens at MC20" Presentation

2/7/2019

This presentation was delivered at the 2019 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference.

By W. Bryant, S. Fitzgerald, R. Camilli, A. Mallios, and C. Reddy

A seafloor collapse during hurricane Ivan sheared the legs of the MC-20 A platform, moved the platform approximately 550 feet, bent well piping, and buried damaged wells below newly deposited mud. This unforeseen event and associated extraordinary damage to the MC-20 structure has resulted in the presence of a persistent surface sheen at the site. Under the Unified Command, a workgroup was chartered to “assist in identifying the seabed location(s) of the hydrocarbon source(s) causing the continue sheening in MC20”. Data collection included: water column velocity measurements (profiles); time-stamped, georeferenced aerial observations of sheen origination(s); forensic analysis of discrete samples of recently surfaced residual oil (rosebuds); time-stamped, georeferenced locations of surface observations of rosebuds and dry gas bubbles at the origin of the sheen and locations along the surfacing trajectory; conductivity, temperature, and speed of sound depth profiles; and acoustic multi-beam imagery of water column anomalies and bathymetry. This talk presents information on characteristics of surfacing material and dynamics of surface expressions including models of upward trajectory of hypothetical releases and subsequent comparison of model output to observations at the surface and multibeam imagery of acoustic water column anomalies.

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"Application of Physical, Chemical, Biological and Geological Constraints on Petroleum Seepage at MC20 " Presentation

2/7/2019

This presentation was delivered at the 2019 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference.

By L. Valentine, R. Camilli, W. Bryant, and C. Reddy

In 2004 Hurricane Ivan induced a regional submarine slope failure that inundated block 20 of the Mississippi Canyon protraction unit. The flow transported and then toppled Taylor Energy’s MC20 platform, which became partially buried by the 40-foot emplacement of new sediment, and came to rest 550 feet downslope from its original location. Prior to the Hurricane the platform was producing ~1000 barrels of oil per day, with >99.5% of production potential coming from nine wells; the remaining 16 wells had been produced in the preceding decades to the point they no longer flowed oil without stimulation. Following the Hurricane, oil freely leaked from a subset of wells, focused at two seafloor locations: the former location of the platform which retained the buried well heads, and near to the fallen platform where the conductor pipes (the pipes that connect the platform to well heads) had severed and become buried. By 2011 nine intervention wells had been completed for the producing wells mentioned above, which eliminated seafloor discharge at multiple locations including the site over the wellheads, but a persistent oil sheen remains in the vicinity of the platform. The contemporary surface sheen appears to emanate from the area near to the platform that overlies the severed conductor pipes. This area has developed into a large scour pit from which oil and gas seep. The focus of this talk is on placing holistic constraints on the processes active at this site, including biological, chemical, physical and geological processes that define the immediate source of seeping petroleum and the rates at which such processes occur.

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"Chemical heterogeneity informs the source and magnitude of ongoing release at the Taylor Energy site, Northern Gulf of Mexico" Presentation

2/7/2019

This presentation was delivered at the 2019 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference.

By C. Reddy, E. Overton, D. L. Valentine, R. Camilli, and W. Bryant

Following the 2004 toppling and burial of the Taylor Energy Company’s platform in the northern Gulf of Mexico at Mississippi Canyon block 20 (MC-20), the wreckage field has hosted a pervasive surface sheen. However, the immediate source feeding the sheens and the rate of release are uncertain and the focus of ongoing response activities. We conducted a forensic investigation of analytical data from 1986 to 2018 to assess the likelihood of a single dominant source (e.g., a leaking well) feeding the contemporary slick, which we compared to sediment samples and slick samples from the site. Our results show a plurality of biodegraded slick oils sufficiently complex that a single source is excluded. A forensic comparison of sheens collected at different times with sediments indicates multiple oils feeding the sheens with contributions that vary in space and time. Collectively, the heterogeneity in surface sheen, the degree of biodegradation in both surface sheens and sediment oils, and the extent of sediment oiling indicate the contemporary sheen at the MC20 site derives primarily from a plural assortment of residual oil from the saturated sediments near the downed jacket. These results are inconsistent with surface sheens being from an ongoing release and are difficult to reconcile with recent remote sensing-based reports that claim flow rates in excess of 39.71 to 110.83 cubic meters per day. The distinction between residual oil in sediment and active ongoing discharge is important because it dictates response options that are viable and appropriate for the site, a topic of active consideration.

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"Two Decades of In-Situ Observation Guiding MC20 Response Operations: What We Have Learned and Why It Matters" Presentation

2/7/2019

This presentation was delivered at the 2019 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference.

By R. Camilli, A. Mallios, C. Reddy, and W. Bryant

Forensic analysis of the MC20 platform’s destruction indicates that the hurricane-induced turbidity flow which toppled it was unlike anything previously encountered or contemplated by US regulatory policy. The unusual characteristics of this disaster, combined with the natural complexity of this shelf break region has required careful planning and execution of response operations in order to minimize environmental impact and safety risks. Over the past two decades numerous in-situ surveys have been conducted at the MC20 site to inform these response operations using an array of advanced in-situ technologies operated from surface ships, remotely operated vehicles, autonomous underwater vehicles, seafloor tethered platforms, and saturation divers. Under the auspices of the Unified Incident Command, results from these operations have been used to develop a composite 4-dimmensional model of the site in order to aid situational awareness, with particular emphasis on understanding the persistent oil sheen, along with the potential utility, risks, and consequences of specific response actions. This talk presents an overview of the in-situ technologies and methods used to inform response operations, examines the 4D model developed from these studies and its use in guiding response operations, as well as the physical and chemical evolution of the MC20 site over the past 14 years.

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MC-20 Decision Memorandum

11/16/2018

This Coast Guard memorandum documents Coast Guard’s decision to reject Taylor Energy’s proposed containment dome system and accept the containment dome system proposed by Couvillion Group- even though Taylor Energy has containment domes already constructed and ready to be deployed. This action by Coast Guard ignores the longstanding, comprehensive scientific record and could cause catastrophic environmental damage.

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Notice of Federal Assumption

11/16/2018

The Coast Guard changed its posture following a Washington Post article, relying on deeply-flawed analysis, claimed “millions of barrels” have been leaking. In face of negative publicity, the Coast Guard ordered Taylor Energy to construct a containment system based on the false, exaggerated volume figures. The Coast Guard unilaterally selected a contractor and ordered Taylor Energy to enter into a contract, in less than 48 hours, that could ultimately cost the company over $1 billion.  During the contract negotiations, Taylor Energy raised concerns about the flawed analysis and the short timeline. The following day, the Coast Guard federalized the response actions identified in Administrative Order 19-001. Taylor Energy remains committed to a science-driven response and is still meeting all of its obligations as the current Responsible Party.

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Incident Action Plan for Operation Period 9/30/18 – 12/31/18

11/9/2018

This is the Incident Action Plan for Operation Period 9/30/2018 – 12/31/2018. In spite of the “urgency” alleged by Coast Guard, it has not convened a Unified Command meeting since November nor has it updated this expired Incident Action Plan as of January 2019.

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Surface Sheens at the Taylor Energy Site at MC-20: Historical and Recent Data

11/7/2018

This presentation was delivered by Dr. Christopher Reddy at the The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) North America 39th annual meeting on Nov. 7, 2018. It shows that contaminated sediments are the source of surface sheens at MC-20.

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Taylor Energy’s proposal for a subsea containment system in response to Order 19-001

11/6/2018

Taylor Energy proposed a subsea containment system in response to Coast Guard Administrative Order 19-001. The proposal utilized containment domes that Taylor Energy already constructed and relied on the  voluminous scientific record built over a decade. Coast Guard unilaterally selected another proposal from a vendor that developed a proposal based on a one page fact sheet.

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Coast Guard’s Denial of Reconsideration of Order 19-001

10/25/2018

Coast Guard denied Taylor Energy’s Request for Reconsideration of Administrative Order 19-001. Taylor Energy requested reconsideration of the Order because it relies on information that is “inaccurate, false and inconclusive” amongst other reasons.

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Taylor Energy’s Request for Reconsideration of Order 19-001

10/24/2018

Taylor Energy wrote Coast Guard requesting review and reconsideration of Administrative Order 19-001 because it relies on information that is “inaccurate, false and inconclusive” amongst other reasons. The Coast Guard issued the order following a Washington Post article that publicized deeply flawed analysis included as part of litigation and not developed for the Unified Command.

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Administrative Order 19-001

10/23/2018

Two days after a Washington Post article cited flawed analysis that “millions of gallons” of oil was leaking at the MC-20 site, the Coast Guard issued Administrative Order 19-001. The inflated volumes cited are completely inconsistent with the scientific record built over a decade by the world’s leading scientists, including those regularly relied upon by the government. There is  no evidence to support that this newly-ordered containment system will work. Taylor Energy’s concern is that the government is leading the response down a dangerous path that will create an environmental impact that currently does not exist. The current scientific record does not support further actions that could cause more harm to the environment than good.

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Summary of Scientific Study Results Supporting the Federal Position on MC-20 Site

10/23/2018

To support the Federal government’s change in position on the MC-20 response, the Coast Guard attached this document to Administrative Order 19-001.

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Site Conditions and Market Research

10/23/2018

While a robust, voluminous scientific record dealing with the MC-20 incident exists, only this one-page summary was shared with potential vendors from which to propose a containment system.

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ICS 213 Form: IAP Objective - Technical Limitations for RP to Address Objective (In absence of Environmental Considerations or Legal Requirements)

9/12/2018

This form was submitted by Taylor Energy to be included as part of the Unified Command record. It outlines the technical limitations to meeting the Coast Guard’s new Objective to completely and permanently “eliminate the sheen within 12 months”.

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ICS 213 Form: Manipulation of Records by Coast Guard

9/12/2018

This form was submitted by Taylor Energy to be included as part of the Unified Command record. It outlines false statements  made by Coast Guard to the public.

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ICS 213 Form: Media Inquiry & Response Process

9/12/2018

This form was submitted by Taylor Energy to be included as part of the Unified Command record. It outlines how Coast Guard broke Unified Command protocol and unilaterally released information to the media/public without the Responsible Party’s knowledge or consent.

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Coast Guard Response to Taylor Energy’s Request for Indemnification

8/28/2018

This letter is Coast Guard’s response to Taylor Energy’s request for indemnification. Taylor Energy made the request out of concerns that Coast Guard-directed activities could potentially harm the environment.

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MC-20 Unified Command Records Index

8/27/2018

For years, the Coast Guard was compiling a Records Index of all the documentation relative to the MC-20 response. When delivered, the Records Index was nothing more than this table with file names and no descriptions, and it omitted key documents.

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"MC-20 Lessons Learned" Presentation

6/7/2018

This presentation was delivered by Wade Bryant the Environmental Unit Leader of the Unified Command at the OOC General Meeting in Austin, TX.

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Coast Guard Response to Taylor Energy Letter Re: Response Options for MC-20

4/11/2018

Coast Guard’s response to Taylor Energy’s concern that the Government is withholding “other scientific reports” that could be relevant to the response.

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Taylor Energy Letter Re: Response Options for MC-20

4/6/2018

With the location of the source of the sheen provided by the Sheen Source Location Workgroup, the Coast Guard requested Taylor Energy provide response options. However, the Government claimed to have “other scientific reports” that put the volume of the sheen orders of magnitude above the previously accepted amounts. The government refused to share these “other scientific reports,” which could be critical to determining response options. Taylor Energy filed a Freedom Of Information Act request for the information, which has been unfulfilled by the Government.

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Coast Guard Request for Taylor Energy to Present Response Options

3/5/2018

Following the findings of the Sheen Source Location Workgroup that identified the location of the source of the sheen, the Coast Guard asked Taylor Energy to provide “one preferred response and/or containment option to the Unified Command.” Taylor Energy replied with the 4/6/18 letter “Response Options for MC-20,” citing concerns the Government was making unsupported claims about the volume of oil being released.

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Rum-Punch: Time series petroleum biomarker testing of the scenario that an actively leaking oil well is contributing to the MC20 sea surface sheen

2/10/2018

This mixing model confirms that the sheen is from the release of remnant oil from marine sediments on the ocean’s floor and that there is no evidence to support a leaking well. This analysis supports taking no further action to disturb the contaminated seafloor sediments.

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Sheen Source Location Work Group Correction

1/30/2018

This document corrects a data discrepancy in the Sheen Source Location Workgroup Report. The revised data represents a non-substantive change to the report.

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Sheen Source Location Work Group Report

11/2017

The Sheen Source Location Workgroup was a Unified Command workgroup consisting of experts from NOAA, Coast Guard, BSEE, and leading scientists from the private sector. The Workgroup was established to help identify the location of the source of the MC-20 sheen. The workgroup identified the primary source of the sheen as an erosional pit located on the northeast side of the downed platform jacket and produced data that confirmed that the sheen is from the release of remnant oil from marine sediments on the ocean’s floor and that there is no evidence to support a leaking well.

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Standard Operating Procedures: Aerial Overflight Oil Sheen Observations

9/28/2016

This Unified Command document details how overflight observations of MC-20 are to take place. The principal objective of the overflights is to monitor for changes in the sheen. If dark, recoverable oil is spotted, then cleanup vessels are deployed. To date, only 3 gallons of an oily water mixture has ever been capable of collection.

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Sheen Source Location Work Group Charter & Project Plan

1/20/2016

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“History of MC-20: Location and Platform Construction” Presentation

1/20/2016

This presentation was given by Taylor Energy President Will Pecue at a public forum held by Taylor Energy to share the science and history of the response to MC-20.

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“September 16, 2004: An Act of God” Presentation

1/20/2016

This presentation was given by Taylor Energy President Will Pecue at a public forum held by Taylor Energy to share the science and history of the response to MC-20.

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“Technical Surveys and Preliminary Analyses, 2004-2008” Presentation

1/20/2016

This presentation was given by Taylor Energy President Will Pecue at a public forum held by Taylor Energy to share the science and history of the response to MC-20.

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“MC20 Sale, the Trust, and Overview of Operations to Date” Presentation

1/20/2016

This presentation was given by Taylor Energy President Will Pecue at a public forum held by Taylor Energy to share the science and history of the response to MC-20.

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“Intervention Wells & Decommissioning Operations, 2008-2011” Presentation

1/20/2016

This presentation was given by Taylor Energy President Will Pecue at a public forum held by Taylor Energy to share the science and history of the response to MC-20.

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“Supplemental Technical Analyses for Unified Command, 2011-2013” Presentation

1/20/2016

This presentation was given by Dr. Richard Camilli and Dr. Christopher Reddy at a public forum held by Taylor Energy to share the science and history of the response to MC-20.

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“Sheen Source – Taylor Energy’s Subsea Acoustical, Water Column, and Soil Analysis” Presentation

1/20/2016

This presentation was given by Dr. Richard Camilli at a public forum held by Taylor Energy to share the science and history of the response to MC-20.

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"Sheen Source: Sampling, Composition, and Weathering" Presentation

1/20/2016

This presentation was given by Dr. Christopher Reddy at a public forum held by Taylor Energy to share the science and history of the response to MC-20.

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“Well Risk Workgroup Methodology” Presentation

1/20/2016

This presentation was given by Taylor Energy President Will Pecue at a public forum held by Taylor Energy to share the science and history of the response to MC-20.

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“Independent View: Relative Impact of MC20 to GoM Resources” Presentation

1/20/2016

This keynote was delivered by Nancy Rabalais of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) at a public forum held by Taylor Energy to share the science and history of the response to MC-20. Taylor Energy donated $300,000 to LUMCON to purchase hard assets that will better position Louisiana research entities to compete for BP funded Restore Act grants, as a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP).

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“CERA Additional Intervention Wells: Risk vs. Reward” Presentation

1/20/2016

This presentation was given by Wade Bryant, a senior environmental scientist with CK Associates and the Environmental Unit Leader for the Unified Command, at a public forum held by Taylor Energy to share the science and history of the response to MC-20.

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“CERA Contaminated Soil: Risk vs. Reward” Presentation

1/20/2016

This presentation was given by Wade Bryant, a senior environmental scientist with CK Associates and the Environmental Unit Leader for the Unified Command, at a public forum held by Taylor Energy to share the science and history of the response to MC-20.

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"FRACE Workshop – Additional Technical Analyses" Presentation

1/20/2016

This presentation was given by Taylor Energy President Will Pecue at a public forum held by Taylor Energy to share the science and history of the response to MC-20.

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"Containment: Intent, History and Effectiveness" Presentation

1/20/2016

This presentation was given by Taylor Energy President Will Pecue at a public forum held by Taylor Energy to share the science and history of the response to MC-20.

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“Assessment of Past, Current and Future Environmental Risk and Probabilities at MC-20” Presentation

1/20/2016

This presentation was given by Dr. Dagmar Schmidt Etkin at a public forum held by Taylor Energy to share the science and history of the response to MC-20.

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Final Risk Assessment and Cost Estimate (FRACE)

3/26/2014

The Final Risk Assessment and Cost Estimate (FRACE) Workshop was designed to fully explore and finally resolve all remaining scientific and factual issues based upon the best scientific data available and the complete record that has been compiled. The goal of FRACE was to reach final conclusions on the remaining risk posed by the MC-20 site and the estimated cost to mitigate that risk. This executive summary of the FRACE report is a valuable primer document or anyone seeking to understand the Incident Record.

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Consensus Ecological Risk Assessment

2013

This Consensus Ecological Risk Assessment (“CERA”) report  (in which 45 people from 21 different federal and state agencies, as well as private sector expertise, participated) looked at the current ecological risks and recommended that Taylor Energy (1) not pursue additional well intervention because the ecological risks outweigh the possible benefits and (2) not pursue dredge/dispose or dredge/cap options because the ecological risks outweigh the possible benefits.

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Admin Order 12-001

6/25/2012

Admin Order 12-001 ordered Taylor Energy to design a new containment system. It was later discovered that this order was based on an erroneous sonar report. Nonetheless, Taylor Energy  complied with the order and constructed containment domes. These domes currently are located onshore and are available for deployment should changed circumstances warrant their use. Taylor Energy’s containment domes were never ordered deployed by the Coast Guard, despite Taylor Energy’s confirmation to the Coast Guard that it would place the containment domes at the “X” and “Y” coordinates to be provided by the Coast Guard.

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Admin Order 006-08

9/23/2008

Admin Order 006-008 ordered Taylor Energy to deploy skimming assets, conduct overflights twice per day, install pollution domes, and provide an updated Incident Action Plan. Taylor Energy fully complied with this Order and all others.

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Geotechnical Investigation Excavation Project Field and Standard Laboratory Data Report

7/25/2007

This geotechnical field investigation found that areas of the seafloor at MC-20 contained isolated pockets of oil as well as gas blisters deep below the sediment. The findings are consistent with the scientific assessment that naturally occurring gas, which is common in the Gulf, releases from the ocean’s floor and the bubbles enable remnant oil trapped in the marine sediments to be released into the water column.

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