Clean Water Act Charges Filed Against Houston Energy Company

Energy Resource Technology GOM, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Houston-based Talos Energy LLC, has been charged with two felony counts of violating the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and two felony counts of violating the Clean Water Act related to its offshore oil production facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana announced Nov. 30 that Energy Resource Technology GOM, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Houston-based Talos Energy LLC, has been charged with two felony counts of violating the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and two felony counts of violating the Clean Water Act related to its offshore oil production facilities in the Gulf of Mexico. A Bill of Information alleges that on or about Nov. 26, 2012, ERT knowingly and willfully failed to comply with the regulations for hot work on its Ship Shoal 225 production platform -- 30 CFR 250.113(c)(4) requires that welding and associated activities on offshore facilities may not take place within 10 feet of a well bay unless production in that area is shut in, according to the office's news release.

Also alleged is that on or about Nov. 27, 2012, on the same platform, ERT knowingly and willfully failed to comply with the regulations for blowout preventer testing.

The company allegedly violated the Clean Water Act "by tampering with the method of collecting the monthly overboard produced water discharge samples to be tested for oil and grease content pursuant to its NPDES permit," according to the release. "As required by its NPDES Permit, ERT is prohibited from introducing into the Gulf of Mexico produced water in which the oil and grease content exceed a monthly average of 29 mg/l. Produced water is that which is brought up from the hydrocarbon-bearing strata during the extraction of oil and gas, and can include formation water, injection water, oil and any chemicals added downhole or during the oil/water separation process. ERT collects and submits monthly samples of its produced water to a laboratory for testing to determine whether the quantity of oil and grease contained in the produced water exceeds a monthly average of 29 mg/l, as required by its NPDES Permit."

The Bill of Information alleges that ERT tampered with the monitoring methods for collecting overboard water samples on nine of its offshore facilities in violation of 33 CFR 1319(c)(4) and on or about June 9, 2015, allegedly knowingly discharged and caused a discharge of a pollutant from a point source into the Gulf of Mexico without a permit, violating 33 CFR 1319(c)(2)(A).

If convicted, the company faces a maximum term of probation of five years per count and/or a maximum fine of $500,000 per count.

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