Energy Resource Technology GOM LLC, a subsidiary of Houston-based Talos Energy LLC, was fined $4 million Wednesday and sentenced to three years probation after pleading guilty to federal environmental and pollution charges.
The charges included two felony counts apiece of violating the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and violating the Clean Water Act.
According to court filings, Energy Resource in 2012 “knowingly and willfully failed to comply” with regulations for welding offshore and testing blowout preventers on a Gulf of Mexico production platform.
The initial Clean Water Act violation, in 2014, dealt with tampered sampling of monthly water discharge samples, which were taken to test for oil and grease.
The second violation, in 2015, came after two contract operators on one of the company’s Gulf oil production platforms bled pressure from the production casing on a plugged well without taking precautions against a potential discharge. The workers ultimately allowed “well bore fluid mixed with hydrocarbons” to fall into the water.
“This is an excellent example of federal agencies working together, collaboratively and effectively, to ensure that oil and gas companies operating in areas within the department’s jurisdiction meet their professional and legal responsibilities,” Ron Gonzales, the special agent in charge of the Department of the Interior-Office of Inspector General-Energy Investigations Unit, said Wednesday in a news release.
U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle also sentenced the company to make a $200,000 community service payment. During its probation period, the company and Talos Energy Offshore LLC will be required to comply with a Safety and Environmental Compliance Plan.
Talos spokesperson Brian Grove said the company made key organizational changes after acquiring Energy Resource, conducted a third-party audit and “increased training and leadership programs for personnel in the field to ensure incidents like these are not repeated.”
Talos reported the violations to federal authorities, which led to the settlement, according to Grove, who said the settlement “allows us to resolve these legacy issues and move our organization forward.”