23051: Consistently inconsistent

Before this month, the last time the NRC received any report coming from Taylor Energy’s chronically leaking platform 23051 was July 21. Well, after a long absence, we started seeing NRC reports again starting on September 1 and since then, someone’s been reporting on that leak on an almost daily basis. And, as before, it seems as though the reporting is consistently inconsistent.

We’ve been tracking this platform since we discovered it to be leaking during the aftermath of last year’s BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, and we’ve compiled everything we have on this chronology. And we’re updating it daily. And things still don’t seem to add up right.

For example, let’s look at September 18, when the NRC received a report that 1 gallon of crude oil was spilled, resulting in a slick that was .19 miles by 2.1 miles. If that slick was continuous, and it was completely covered in oil, on average 1 micron thick, our analysis shows that, in reality, there were 272.13 gallons of oil spilled.

How about on September 14, when the NRC report showed that there was a spill of 43 gallons with a slick that was .25 miles by 13.6 miles. Using the calculations above, our analysis shows that the true amount of oil spilled for that incident would be 2291 gallons. Seeing a pattern of inconsistent reporting? Take a look at this satellite image of 23051 from that same day.

Radar satellite image of the 23051 site taken September 14, 2011.  The bright white area in the upper left is the Mississippi delta.  Bright white points are ships and drilling platforms. The dark area swirling out to the right of the 23015 site is the oil slick.

In fact, take a look at all of the NRC reports associated with site 23051 , and you’ll see that the inconsistencies are, well, rather consistent. I just did a quick calculation on the reports so far this month, and for the incidents where a reported amount was given, the reported volumes range from 22 times lower to as much as 272 times lower than our calculations based on the reported size of the oil slick. On average for those reports, the reported amounts spilled are 78 times lower than our calculations.