Analytical Instrumentation

  • How is Couvillion Cleaning Up the Gulf of Mexico?

How is Couvillion Cleaning Up the Gulf of Mexico?

Jul 19 2019 Read 350 Times

Almost 15 years ago, Hurricane Ivan stormed through the Gulf of Mexico and caused serious damage to an offshore production platform operated by American-owned company, Taylor Energy Co. The company has been reporting spillage of less than three gallons a day, though a recent video acquired by marine construction company Couvillion Group reveals the damage is much more extensive.

Louisiana company awarded clean-up contract

After competing for a multi-million-dollar contract, Couvillion was hired by the U.S. Coast Guard to address what's been labelled one of the most severe offshore spills in the history of America's oil and gas industry. To assess the damage Couvillion deployed a submersible robot to snap photos of the spill, which occurred 450 feet below the surface. The results were alarming, with owner Timmy Couvillion describing a "volcanic" oil plume rising from an erosion pit in the ocean floor. The pit was releasing thousands of gallons of Louisiana sweet crude into the Gulf of Mexico and forcing Amberjack, a popular species of sport fish, to swim through curtains of toxic oil bubbles.

"We saw a volcano coming up,” revealed Couvillion in a recent interview. “I had no idea it was that bad."

Couvillion collects more than 60,000 gallons of crude

While Couvillion Group was sued by Taylor Energy and accused of being too inexperienced and "not professionally qualified" for the clean-up job, the company endured and developed an oil containment system that's recovered more than 60,000 gallons since March. According to Couvillion, the efforts have helped to minimise the damage and eliminate a slick of surface oil that stretched for more than 20 miles across the Gulf of Mexico.

“I’m in awe of what they did,” says Kristi Luttrell, Coast Guard Captain. “We gave them a task and they did it, and they should be very proud of what they’ve done.”

Taylor Energy isn't as happy, with the company accusing the government of refusing to share verifiable scientific information and data relating to the spill. It sued Luttrell for ordering the clean-up, hiring Couvillion Group and essentially blindsiding it from the US$7 million project that it will eventually foot the bill for. Taylor Energy has also slammed Couvillion Group for attempting such a vast job, labelling the company "reckless and grossly negligent."

An innovative approach to oil spill clean-ups

Built in shops across Louisiana, the containment system designed by Couvillion Group weighs an enormous 200 tons. Parts were then shipped to the Gulf of Mexico and pieced together underwater by a team of nine deepwater divers. When assembled, the unit sucks in mater, natural gas and oil into a separator, then sends crude to five submerged tanks and releases water and gas back into the ocean. Couvillion has been hailed for the innovative system, which could mark a new era of efficiency for oil spill clean-up efforts.

New technologies are continually reshaping the oil and gas industry. For a closer look at the latest developments from the annual Gulf Coast Conference (GCC) hosted in Galveston don't miss 'Trailblazing conference continues to transform the analytical world'.

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