Texas will get $6.5 million from MOEX deal

By Erin Mulvaney
Houston Chronicle Staff Writer

A minority investor in the Macondo well will pay Texas $6.5 million for damage to the Gulf of Mexico and the coastal communities as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said today.

MOEX Offshore 2007, which had a 10 percent interest in the Macondo well, agreed last week to pay $90 million to the federal government and five states for violating the Clean Water Act. As part of that deal, Texas will receive $6.5 million that will be split evenly between civil penalties and environmental projects along the coast.

Abbott  called the oil spill “one of the worst environmental disasters in history” and said the state’s’ coastal resources, marine life and local economies were impacted by the spill.

“The Texas Attorney General’s Office is committed to protecting Texas’ coastal communities and ensuring the Gulf Coast revitalization efforts continue,” Abbott said in a statement released Friday.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality plans to use some of the settlement money to preserve 645 acres of wetlands along the San Bernard River. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department could also use some of the money to acquire Big Tree Ranch in Aransas County.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said last week that the Department of Justice is committed to holding all responsible parties accountable for the largest oil spill in the nation’s history.

“This landmark settlement is an important step – but only a first step – toward achieving accountability and protecting the future of the Gulf ecosystem by funding critical habitat preservation projects,” Holder said in a statement last Friday.

The MOEX settlement is the first of a series of expected agreements with the U.S. as lawsuits over the 2010 spill approach a trial set for Feb. 27. The U.S. Justice Department sued MOEX, BP, Anadarko and Transocean Ltd., which owned the rig that exploded, in December 2010.

The government is seeking fines for each barrel of oil discharged.