Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Jindal

05
Aug
10

BP begins to seal runaway well in Gulf of Mexico

NEWS
BP begins to seal runaway well in Gulf of Mexico

Thursday, August 5, 2010

BP has begun sealing its runaway oil well in the Gulf of Mexico with cement, one of the final steps to plug the gusher at the center of the worst U.S. environmental disaster on record.

Some 15 weeks after the well ruptured and 21 days after the flow was stemmed with a temporary cap, the massive slick which once stretched for hundreds of miles is rapidly disappearing from the Gulf.

But officials cautioned that a great deal of clean-up work remained and that the long-term impact of the disaster could be felt for years, even decades.

In a long-awaited breakthrough, BP brought the well under control on Wednesday after pumping heavy drilling fluid into the busted Macondo well for eight hours, forcing the oil back down into the reservoir miles beneath the seabed.

The British energy giant then began pumping cement at 09.15 CDT on Thursday after the procedure was approved by U.S. officials.

‘The aim of the procedure is to assist with the strategy to kill and isolate the well,’ BP said in a statement. ‘This procedure will complement the ongoing relief well operation.’

In giving the green light, spill response chief Thad Allen emphasised that the cementing should ‘in no way delay the completion of the relief well,’ expected to be finished in mid-August to seal the well permanently.
‘So, the long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end. And we are very pleased with that,’ U.S. President Barack Obama said. ‘Our recovery efforts, though, will continue. We have to reverse the damage that’s been done.’

It took 106 days to shut the well down in the wake of a devastating explosion on April 20 that killed 11 workers and sank the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig, unleashing a torrent of oil into the Gulf.

At 4.9 million barrels – or enough oil to fill 311 Olympic-sized swimming pools – the disaster is the biggest maritime spill on record.

It threatened the fish and wildlife-rich U.S. Gulf coast with environmental ruin and plunged residents of coastal communities into months of anguish over their livelihoods and the region’s future.

A government report released on Wednesday found that a third of the oil was captured or mitigated through burning, skimming, chemical dispersion and direct recovery from the wellhead.

Heat from the sun helped some of the chemicals in the crude evaporate. Waves and currents broke the slick up into smaller patches. Then the microbes which feed on natural oil seeping in the Gulf got to work, it said.

‘At least 50 percent of the oil that was released is now completely gone from the system,’ said Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

‘And most of the remainder is degrading rapidly, or is being removed from the beaches.’
But Lubchenco was quick to stress that scientists will not be able to determine for a long time the full extent of the damage.

‘The oil that was released and has already impacted wildlife at the surface, young juvenile stages and eggs beneath the surface, will likely have very considerable impacts for years and possibly decades to come,’ she told reporters at the White House briefing.

The problem, she explained, is that oil is still toxic even when it has been broken down into very small droplets.

About 24 percent of the Gulf’s federal waters remain closed to fishing, and even when fishermen are able to fill their nets they fear consumers might not believe the seafood is safe to eat.

With tourists likely to avoid Gulf beaches for years and oil industry jobs under threat from Obama’s moratorium on new deep sea drilling permits, the future remains bleak for many coastal communities.

BP, meanwhile, is hoping to rebuild its shattered reputation but must also meet the claims of thousands of individuals and businesses whose livelihoods have been washed away, while a mammoth civil trial looms.

BP senior vice president Kent Wells expressed relief that 20 days after the flow of oil in the sea was stemmed with a temporary cap ‘it’s very difficult for us to find any oil anywhere on the surface.’

He refused, however, to declare victory until the well is permanently sealed.
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04
Aug
10

BP says “static kill” operation at ruptured U.S. oil well

NEWS
BP says “static kill” operation at ruptured U.S. oil well
Obama says long battle in Gulf close to end
New Report: 74% of Oil in BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill has been Contained or Mitigated

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

About three-quarters of the oil spilled from the ruptured BP well in the Gulf of Mexico has disappeared, a top U.S. official said Wednesday.

‘The scientists are telling us about 25 percent was not captured or evaporated or taken care of by mother nature,’ said Carol Browner, a top energy adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama, on the ABC network’s Good Morning America program.

‘This is an initial assessment by our scientists in the government and outside the government. We think it’s important to make this available to the public. That’s what we’ll be doing today.’

Browner said the report to be released later on Wednesday was ‘encouraging’ but that more clean-up will be needed.

‘Mother nature will continue to break it down,’ she said.

‘But some of it may come onshore, as weathered tar balls. And those will be cleaned up. They can be cleaned up. And we will make sure they are cleaned up.’

An estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico over a period of 87 days after an explosion on a BP-leased offshore rig on April 20.

The leak was capped on July 15, and on Wednesday BP said it succeeded in controlling the pressure in the ruptured well through a procedure called a ‘static kill.’

The New York Times said the report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, indicated that fears that a huge underwater glob of oil would surface at some point to tar Gulf beaches looked increasingly unlikely.

‘There’s absolutely no evidence that there’s any significant concentration of oil that’s out there that we haven’t accounted for,’ Jane Lubchenco, head of the agency, was quoted as saying.

Today, a panel of government scientists released a report which said that the vast majority of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has either evaporated or been burned, skimmed, recovered from the wellhead or dispersed much of which is in the process of being degraded. A significant amount of this is the direct result of the federal government’s aggressive response to the spill.

The chart below outlines the breakdown of what has happened to the oil released into the Gulf of Mexico since the oil spill began in April:

These interagency findings were generated using a scientific tool called the Oil Budget Calculator, which employs a combination of direct measurements and the best scientific estimates available. The calculator is based on 4.9 million barrels of oil released into the Gulf, the government’s latest estimates of the flow rate from Monday. More than 25 of the best government and independent scientists contributed to or reviewed the calculator and its calculation methods. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE), as well as academic scientists are continuing to work to refine these calculations.

While we welcome the news contained in this report, we continue to be extremely concerned about what this oil spill means for the health of the Gulf ecosystem and the millions of people who depend on the Gulf for their livelihoods and enjoyment. To that end, our response effort will continue until the well is killed, the oil is cleaned up and until all of the people are made whole again.

For more information about the ongoing Administration-wide response to BP Oil Spill, visit RestoreTheGulf.gov.
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03
Aug
10

BP gears up to plug ‘world’s biggest’ oil spill

NEWS
BP gears up to plug ‘world’s biggest’ oil spill
A deadly addiction: figures confirm BP spill is biggest in history

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The U.S. government says BP’s ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico gushed an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil, making it the largest accidental spill ever.

‘Overall, the scientific teams estimate that approximately 4.9 million barrels of oil have been released from the well,’ the joint response command that includes BP and the U.S. government said in a statement describing the new estimate.

‘Not all of this oil and gas flowed into the ocean; containment activities conducted by BP under US direction captured approximately 800,000 barrels of oil prior to the capping of the well,’ they said.

The 4.9 million barrels is at the upper end of an earlier official estimate, which said that between 3 million and 5.3 million barrels had spewed from the well between April 20, when the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, and July 15, when a cap placed over the wellhead was finally sealed.

The refined estimates ‘are the most accurate to date and have an uncertainty of plus or minus 10 per cent’, according to the statement.

The 4.1 million uncontained barrels estimated to have spewed into the water make the spill the biggest accidental oil disaster in the history of the petroleum industry, and second only to the intentional release of crude by Iraqi forces during the 1991 Gulf War.

The previous largest accidental spill was a 1979 disaster – also in the Gulf of Mexico – in which 3.3 million barrels gushed from the Ixtoc-1 well after an explosion on a rig operated by Mexican state oil company Pemex.
The BP spill revision was based on ‘new pressure readings, data and analysis’ of oil reservoir modeling studied by teams comprised of federal and independent U.S. scientists, including a Department of Energy team of scientists led by President Barack Obama’s energy secretary, Steven Chu, the statement said.

‘The revised estimates are part of this administration’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that we have the most accurate information possible,’ Chu said.

When the well first ruptured, ‘62,000 barrels of oil per day were leaking from the well’, beyond the 35,000 to 60,000 barrels most recently estimated by U.S. authorities, but the flow rate decreased to 53,000 barrels per day just before the well was capped, the statement said.

‘As a result of depletion of the hydrocarbon reservoir, the daily flow rate decreased over the 87 days prior to the well’s closure,’ according to the statement.

The new figures are based in part on analysis of high-resolution videos taken by remotely operated underwater vehicles, acoustic technologies, measurements of oil collected by vessels on the surface, and readings of pressure measurements inside the containment cap.

‘Government scientists will continue to analyse data and may in time be able to further refine this estimate,’ the statement said.
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02
Aug
10

BP begins ‘static kill’ operation in bid to finally seal Gulf of Mexico oil well

NEWS
BP begins ‘static kill’ operation in bid to finally seal Gulf of Mexico oil well
The key lesson of the BP oil spill? Don’t panic spiked’s prediction that this was not ‘the worst environmental disaster’ in U.S. history has been proven right.

Monday, August 02, 2010

BP will know within hours on Tuesday whether its attempt to plug the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico has worked.

Company engineers are preparing to pump heavy drilling mud and cement into the well in a procedure known as “static kill”.

Retired coast guard admiral Thad Allen, the U.S. official overseeing the federal spill response, said that the operation would begin either Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

A week later, mud and cement will be pumped in from below, via a relief well that has been dug deep into the earth, to seal the leak permanently.

Oil has stopped gushing from the well for the past two weeks after a temporary cap was placed on top of it. BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank on 20 April, causing what is thought to be the U.S.’s worst environmental disaster in history.
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02
Aug
10

Doug Suttles happy to eat Gulf seafood

NEWS
Doug Suttles happy to eat Gulf seafood
BP executive ‘absolutely’ would eat Gulf seafood

Monday, August 02, 2010

Earth

One of BP’s top executives said that not only would he eat Gulf seafood, but he would feed it to his family too. While many fear that the unprecedented amount of chemical dispersants, such as Corexit, in the water has turned it into a toxic soup, more water has been opened.
Fears run high, but many in the seafood industry give a different point of view. While acknowledging the amount of toxic chemicals (over 1 million gallons of Corexit) is unprecedented and unlike anything ever seen before; the rigorous testing by the EPA, NOAA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife fisheries have caused some to conclude that seafood is safer than it has ever been.
Water tests, air quality samples and soil tests have been conducted regularly and the data is used to determine which federal and state waters would be closed or opened. With the high amount of testing, some feel the seafood is the safest it’s been.
Others disagree. They want to know exactly what is being tested. What byproducts result from Corexit and oil and are they being tested in the seafood?
Though NOAA has opened more federal waters and people are returning to beaches, there are many who will not eat Gulf Coast seafood, regardless of what Doug Suttles chooses to feed his family.
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02
Aug
10

Final efforts to permanently seal BP oil well in Gulf of Mexico begin soon

NEWS
Final efforts to permanently seal BP oil well in Gulf of Mexico begin soon
Static kill could start Monday, Allen says

Monday, August 02, 2010

After months of uncertainty and frustration, crews are ramping up efforts to permanently seal the ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well as early as Monday night.

The operation is one of two bids to definitively ‘kill’ the damaged well, which has spewed noxious crude into the sea since April, devastating fragile habitats and bringing financial ruin to many residents along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

BP officials in recent days said they hoped the ‘static kill’ operation would take place on Tuesday, but on Sunday the U.S. point man for the spill response, Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen, said it ‘could start as early as Monday night, depending on final testing of the mud injection systems’.

If successful, the ‘static kill’ will allow crews to plug the well from above with cement, but the procedure is untested and similar to a previous ‘kill’ attempt that failed at the end of May.

Still, 104 days into the spill, Americans are desperate for a sign that the leak will soon be permanently capped, allowing the full focus of BP and government officials in the region to shift to clean-up operations and repairing the economic damage caused by the worst oil disaster in U.S. history.

Somewhere between three million to 5.3 million barrels leaked into the Gulf between April 20 and July 15, when a cap placed over the wellhead was sealed, fully containing the flow of oil for the first time.

Locals are eager to see the well plugged for good, but there are fears that a successful kill operation will prompt a mass exodus of officials brought into the region to respond to the crisis.

Crews have already begun collecting some of the millions of feet of protective boom after skimming vessels said they were having difficulty finding spilled crude on the sea surface anymore.

But the president of Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana told CNN it was too early to scale back those operations.

‘The oil is out there,’ Billy Nungesser insisted, saying that he had ordered his parish sheriff to stop 12 trucks carrying boom from leaving the area.

BP, which leased the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers and sparking the spill, has sought to reassure residents it will remain engaged and work to restore the area.

‘We’ve had some good news on the oil … but that doesn’t mean we’re done. We’ll be here for years,’ said Bob Dudley, an American chosen to replace the gaffe-prone Briton Tony Hayward as BP’s chief executive, as the energy giant tries to salvage what is left of its reputation.

Many fishermen whose grounds were closed in the wake of the spill due to food safety concerns have found work assisting the clean-up effort, but face an uncertain future.

They could soon lose their jobs again as there is less oil to mop up and there are no guarantees they will be able to return to fish soon in Gulf waters that could be contaminated for months or even years to come.

Documents released by Congress on Saturday detailing the use of chemical dispersants in the Gulf added to concerns about the long-term effects for the region.

‘BP carpet-bombed the ocean with these chemicals, and the Coast Guard allowed them to do it,’ said Democratic Representative Edward Markey, chairman of the House energy and environment subcommittee.
BP and the U.S. response team have said more than 1.8 million gallons of dispersants have been used to break up the oil, but Markey said studies show the amount could be far higher.

‘The validity of those numbers are now in question,’ he said.

Admiral Allen addressed the concerns on Sunday, insisting to reporters that he was ‘satisfied that dispersants were only used when needed’, and that it was the U.S. government on-scene coordinator’s decision to use dispersants and not BP’s.

Meanwhile on Sunday engineers were carrying out final tests to ensure the integrity of the wellhead, BP said.

Once the static kill is underway, engineers will pump heavy drilling fluid called ‘mud’ into the cap in a bid to push the oil back down into the well reservoir.

If that works, crews will then seal the well from the top with cement.

Then, as early as next weekend, BP plans to begin a ‘bottom kill’ by intercepting the damaged well deep below the seabed with a nearly completed relief well.

Engineers plan to first drill into the pipe to check the ‘static kill’ has worked before cementing in the outer well bore and blocking the oil reservoir once and for all.
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01
Aug
10

U.S. Owners Of BP Stations Seek Rebranding

NEWS
U.S. Owners Of BP Stations Seek Rebranding

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Earth BP is reportedly facing pressure to rename its U.S. petrol stations under their old Amoco brand as the backlash in America shows no sign of easing.

The distributors who control most of BP’s U.S. forecourts are pushing the group to revert back to the traditional American Amoco branding for fear of further sales pain following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

BP shed the Amoco brand shortly after merging with the U.S. oil group in 1998, but the 475 distributors believe its revival across petrol stations could help bring customers back.

They are reportedly seeing sales fall by up to 40 percent in the worst hit sites as Americans shun the BP brand.

The firm’s petrol stations in the U.S. are also said to be suffering growing instances of vandalism and protests.

John Kleine, executive director of the BP Amoco Marketers Association, which represents U.S. distributors, told The Sunday Telegraph in Britain: ‘They (the distributors) are interested in where the brand is going and want it to be returned to its premier place.’
He added: ‘Those fires have been fueled in the last week by a former Amoco executive (Bob Dudley) being named to assume the role of chief executive.’

A separate report also suggested BP may be forced to wind down its operations in the Gulf of Mexico after American lawmakers passed a bill that could halve its production there.

The Gulf accounts for 10 percent of BP’s global production, but the legal move proposed freezing the firm out of new drilling leases for seven years.

BP last week confirmed Mr. Dudley would take over from under-fire boss Tony Hayward in October as it revealed a $32.2 billion blow from the spill.

The group is understood to be preparing to ‘static kill’ the leaking well this week.

The well erupted when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank on April 20, killing 11 workers and triggering the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

BP was not immediately available for comment.
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31
Jul
10

Engineers prepare to seal ruptured oil well

NEWS
Engineers prepare to seal ruptured oil well

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Earth

••• Engineers are preparing a plan to permanently seal a damaged Gulf of Mexico well, despite delays to the process caused by debris left behind by a recent tropical storm.

As the work continues, incoming BP boss Bob Dudley has vowed his company will not abandon residents affected by the spill after the well is finally sealed.

BP hopes to drown the well in an operation dubbed a ‘static kill’ in which mud and cement will be injected down into the ruptured wellhead via a cap installed on July 15.

Dudley said on Friday the operation had been pushed back a day, saying ‘we are hopeful by Tuesday the static kill will have been performed’.

The U.S. pointman on the crisis, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, said on Friday the delay was needed to allow engineers to clear debris from the damaged wellhead caused by Tropical Storm Bonnie, which briefly halted spill operations.

But BP senior vice president Kent Wells said the company was confident the static kill would proceed successfully.

A cap in place for two weeks has shown no sign of leaks, ‘giving us more confidence that this well has integrity’, which is a positive sign for the operation, Wells said at a technical briefing on Friday.

Wells said BP hopes the static kill will be able to overcome the flow of oil, but that a second sealing method – via an intercept through a relief well – will go ahead afterwards regardless.

BP said the relief well is likely to intersect the existing well deep below the ocean floor within eight to 10 days, allowing the second sealing process – a bottom kill – by the end of August.

Making his first trip to the region since being named to replace outgoing BP CEO Tony Hayward, Dudley said on Friday the firm’s focus will shift to long-term recovery for the region now the spill is being contained.

‘We’ve had some good news on the oil… but that doesn’t mean we’re done,’ Dudley told reporters in Mississippi, one of the five states hit by the massive oil spill.

‘We’ll be here for years,’ he said, as BP announced a $100 million charitable fund to aid unemployed rig workers who are experiencing economic hardship due to the US government’s ongoing moratorium on deepwater drilling.

Dudley will take over as BP’s chief executive on October 1, when Hayward, who was widely criticised for his handling of the crisis, hands over the reins.

With the focus now moving towards mitigating the long-term impact of the worst-ever US oil spill, Dudley said there will be signs that the operation is changing.
Miles of protective boom will be withdrawn from coastlines, and fewer clean-up crews in hazmat suits will be seen on beaches as oil stops washing ashore.

‘So you’ll probably see that kind of a pullback. But commitment, absolutely no pullback,’ he pledged.

It remains unknown just how much oil has spilled into the Gulf since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank in April, killing 11 workers. Best estimates put the amount at between three and 5.3 million barrels.

Allen said a team of experts is carrying out an ‘oil budget’ to calculate how much was released, how much was captured and how much has evaporated, adding he hopes the report will be released in the coming days.

‘It’s something we ultimately need to know,’ Allen said.

In another encouraging sign, the NOAA said southern Florida and the U.S. eastern seaboard is not likely to experience any effects from the remaining surface oil, as had been feared, as the ‘oil continues to degrade and is hundreds of miles away from the loop current’.

With the leak capped, ‘the light sheen remaining on the Gulf’s surface will continue to biodegrade and disperse but will not travel far’, said Jane Lubchenco, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief.
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30
Jul
10

Fishermen fear for livelihoods as Gulf focus shifts

NEWS
Fishermen fear for livelihoods as Gulf focus shifts

Friday, July 30, 2010

••• U.S. officials sought on Thursday to reassure fishermen they will not lose out in the next phase of the Gulf of Mexico oil clean-up, while legal wranglings began for the BP trial of the decade.

As final preparations were put in place for operations next week to permanently kill the well, U.S. spill chief Thad Allen convened a meeting of parish presidents in New Orleans to discuss how best to safeguard local jobs going forward.

With less oil floating in the Gulf, there are fears BP might scrap its ‘Vessels of Opportunity’ program which employs more than 1500 boats, providing desperate fishermen with vital skimming and boom-laying work.

‘If BP uses the capping of the well as an excuse to minimize its clean-up operations, then shame on them,’ said Captain Mike Frenette, whose five boats in Venice, Louisiana missed an entire summer’s fishing due to the disaster.

Frenette had to apply four times before getting two of his five boats onto the program, which pays between $600 and $3500 a day, depending on the size of the boat.
‘The paperwork kept getting lost,’ he said. ‘And all that our Vessels of Opportunity work is doing is counting against our compensation claim. We’re not making any money, here, we’re just trying to keep our heads above water.’

A large portion of the Gulf waters remain closed to commercial and recreational fishing and with lingering doubts about seafood safety, fishermen could effectively end up losing their jobs for a second time.

‘The fishermen have missed a year, and we don’t know what the impact is going to be next year, or the year after that,’ said Marty O’Connell, an environmental scientist at the University of New Orleans.

Clean-up crews are collecting samples of fish and shrimp at depths of between 30 and 360 feet to test them for contaminants, but it will take years to fully know the impact of the oil disaster on Gulf fisheries.

Allen pledged earlier this week to keep as many ‘Vessels of Opportunity’ as possible, hoping they could be redeployed to test for any underwater plumes.
A massive task also lies ahead in picking up some 3 797 miles of protective boom laid to protect Gulf shores from the once-giant slick that has now diminished to just a few patches of light sheen.

Ahead of the meeting with Allen, Saint Tammany parish president Kevin Davis, said he was against reducing any oil-fighting resources for the time being.

‘Although the well is capped, we cannot let down our guard until we are absolutely certain that no oil lingers under our waters,’ he said.

Meanwhile, BP lawyers were set to come face-to-face on Thursday with victims of the spill during a first court hearing into the case, which is likely to become the trial of the decade.

The hearings in Boise, Idaho, will examine whether complaints submitted by some 200 plaintiffs can be consolidated.

A decision is expected around two weeks after the hearing, but the session will give trial lawyers a test run for the arguments they will make during what could be years-long legal proceedings.
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30
Jun
10

Hurricane Alex threatens Mexico, Texas coasts

NEWS
Hurricane Alex threatens Mexico, Texas coasts

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Earth

••• U.S. President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in Texas as Alex strengthened into a hurricane, disrupting oil cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama’s move allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to co-ordinate all disaster relief efforts, a White House statement says.

It came as Alex forced the suspension of oil skimming operations from the disastrous BP spill as visiting Vice President Joe Biden heard complaints about the pace of cleanup efforts in the disaster zone.

Ten weeks after the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon platform exploded, setting off the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, Biden was given an earful from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal about the slow response.

Some 413 miles of once-pristine shorelines have been oiled, as well as countless birds and other wildlife, since the rig sank on April 22.

Since then crude has gushed at an alarming rate into the Gulf of Mexico, leaving the region’s vital fishing and tourism industries in tatters.
Meanwhile, the State Department announced that the United States will accept offers from 12 foreign countries to help clean up and contain the spill.

Offers of booms have been accepted from Canada, Japan, Mexico and Norway; skimmers have been accepted from France, Japan, Mexico and Norway; and a sweeping arm system has been accepted from the Netherlands, a spokeswoman told AFP.

On his trip to the region, Biden was greeted by protesters holding signs reading ‘oil kills’ as he entered a command centre in New Orleans for an hour-long briefing before meeting with local fishermen.

He also travelled to the Florida panhandle, where the slick has forced authorities to close down some of the area’s fabled white sand beaches.

Jindal, a Republican who has been highly critical of the federal response, asked Biden for help cutting through red tape and deploying more resources to keep the oil from coating fragile coastal wetlands and fishing grounds.

‘The federal government needs to increase their sense of urgency,’ Jindal said in a statement after meeting with Biden.

‘They need to treat this spill like a war and get in it to win it. We’re here to defend our way of life.’

At the leak site 50 miles offshore, winds of up to 22 knots churned up large waves that made it too rough for crews to deploy a third vessel set to nearly double the capacity of BP’s containment system.

The now-delayed Helix Producer was set to increase the capacity to gather the gushing oil to between 40,000 and 50,000 barrels per day by early July, from the current 25,000 barrels.
The current containment system is capturing nearly 25,000 of the estimated 30,000 to 60,000 barrels of crude spewing out of the ruptured well every day.

That could all end up gushing directly into the sea if Alex – which is forecast to pass hundreds of kilometres from the site and strike land near the Texas-Mexico border late on Wednesday – changes path and threatens a more direct hit on the slick.

Forecasters are not predicting such a dramatic shift. But U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is overseeing the spill response, said that even the threat of gale force winds – upward of 45 mph – would be enough to force drilling and containment ships to withdraw.

Alex’s winds late on Tuesday had reached 75 mph, with higher gusts, and the storm was expected to strengthen before making landfall on Wednesday night, the National Hurricane Centre said.

Hurricane force winds extend outward only about 30km from the centre but tropical storm force winds extend up to 174 miles, according to the NHC.

In the event of an evacuation, operations will be shut down for about two weeks to ‘take down the equipment, move it off to a safe place, bring it back and re-establish drilling’, Allen said.

That would be another major setback for the ill-fated oil collection effort, and would probably delay until September the completion of relief wells designed to permanently plug the well.

An estimated 1.6 million to 3.6 million barrels of oil have already poured into the Gulf from the ruptured wellhead some 1 mile below the surface.

BP hopes a new mooring system will make the containment cap deep down on the sea floor easier to disconnect and reconnect in the case of bad weather – a vital contingency as hurricane season gets into full swing.

The rough seas have already shifted parts of the slick closer to sensitive areas in Florida and Louisiana and could also push the oil deeper into fragile coastal wetlands.

Waves at the site of the sunken BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig were up to two metres, a Coast Guard spokesman told AFP.
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• Source(s): NOAA / National Weather Service (NWS)
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10
Jun
10

Actor Kevin Costner presents “a partial solution” to Gulf oil spill

NEWS
Actor Kevin Costner presents “a partial solution” to Gulf oil spill

Thursday, June 10, 2010

••• Hollywood star Kevin Costner has urged Congress to consider a technology he invested more than $20 million in that could be used to separate oil from water in the disastrous Gulf of Mexico spill.

‘I know there must be question why I am here, I want to assure every one in the room that it’s not because I heard a voice in the cornfield,’ Costner joked, referring to his role in the film The Field of Dreams, in which he played a farmer who heard voices telling him to build a ballpark in his corn field.

Costner, star of the post-apocalyptic classic Waterworld, said he was deeply affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and that convinced him to use personal resources to develop technologies to help people and the environment.

‘Today that technology (CINC) is the most effective and efficient tool for cleaning up oil spills that you have probably never heard of,’ he explained.
‘I envisioned the machine as a safety device, compact and portable enough that it could be deployed on a small craft and rugged enough to operate reliably in rough seas.’

Costner said oil giant BP, struggling with the worst ever U.S. oil spill, was interested in the technology.

‘Our machine is the right machine for the moment,’ said Costner. After successful tests, ‘BP is now moving to place initial orders (of) these machines and they acknowledged they do the job.’
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09
Jun
10

Senate hearing disrupted as woman pours liquid on self

NEWS
Senate hearing disrupted as woman pours liquid on self

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

••• A Senate hearing on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was disrupted on Wednesday as a protester poured an oily-looking liquid on herself before being arrested.

‘This is what it feels like to have oil dumped on you,’ the woman, identified as Diane Wilson, said in comments addressed to Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Wilson issued a statement issued later saying she is a fourth generation shrimper from the Gulf and that her protest was directed against Murkowski for supporting the oil industry and opposing measures such as lifting the liability cap on oil firms in offshore spills.

Wilson opened a jar and poured a dark, oily-looking substance on her head at the hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, before being taken away by Capitol police. Committee staff said later the jar contained syrup.

‘With this BP disaster, I am seeing the destruction of my community and I am outraged,’ Wilson said in her statement.

‘I am also seeing elected representatives like Senator Lisa Murkowski blocking BP from being legally responsible to pay for this catastrophe.’

At the hearing, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told lawmakers offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico will continue ‘in a safe way’ in the wake of the massive Deepwater Horizon accident.

Salazar told the committee that a range of new regulations implemented following the accident at the BP-operated well would protect against new spills.

‘Offshore drilling will continue… it has to be done in a safe way,’ he told the panel.

Salazar, who heads the agency that oversees oil leasing and management of federal lands, highlighted tougher safety rules imposed this week for offshore drilling and the reorganisation of the Minerals Management Service, the division which has been criticised for being too cozy with the oil industry.

But he said the rules would not halt all offshore drilling despite the six-month moratorium on new deepwater wells ordered by President Barack Obama last month.

‘The importance of the jobs is very much on the mind of the president and on my mind as well,’ Salazar said.

He told Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana that the administration would ask BP to pay salaries of oil sector workers whose jobs have been suspended by the drilling ban.

According to committee figures, the Gulf of Mexico has some 3,600 wells or drilling operations and 700 of them are at depths of around 1 mile like the Deepwater Horizon.

Salazar confirmed that BP was capturing around 15,000 barrels a day from a new device placed on the wellhead, but was unable to estimate how much was still leaking.

‘It is important for us to have the right number. We’ll get that right number,’ he said.

‘Our goal is get zero pollution from this well. Nothing is being spared to bring this problem under control.’
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
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06
Jun
10

Oil Spill Spread Around 200-Mile Radius

NEWS
Oil Spill Spread Around 200-Mile Radius

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Earth

••• The oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico has spread around a 200-mile radius from a fractured well, but has broken into thousands of small spills, a top U.S. official says.

‘This spill is just aggregated over a 200-mile radius around the wellbore, where it’s leaking right now, and it’s not a monolithic spill,’ Admiral Thad Allen, in charge of the U.S. operation against the leak, said on Sunday.
‘It is literally hundreds of thousands of smaller spills,’ he told ABC News television This Week program, adding that the ribbons of oil floating in the Gulf complicate the offshore fight to stop the leak from hitting the coastline.

‘It’s an insidious war, because it’s attacking, you know, four states one at a time, and it comes from different directions depending on the weather,’ Allen said.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): ABC (‘This Week’ anchor Jake Tapper) & U.S. Coast Guard
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04
Jun
10

BP caps one of leaks from rig

NEWS
BP caps one of leaks from rig

Friday, June 4, 2010

Earth

••• In the first breakthrough in its labourious bid to curb the worst U.S. spill in history, BP says a cap placed on a ruptured pipe is working and should capture most of the oil.

The news came on Friday as U.S. President Barack Obama was heading back to the stricken Gulf of Mexico region for his third visit since an explosion tore through the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig more than six weeks ago.

Remote-controlled submarines grappled the cap into place over a sawn-off riser pipe nearly 1.6km below the surface late on Thursday, in the latest of several attempts to contain the oil belching into the Gulf.

Admiral Thad Allen, the official in charge of the U.S. government response to the spill, said the upside-down funnel-like container was already collecting about 1,000 barrels a day of oil.

But he cautioned this was a rough estimate.

‘Production is slowly moving up. It’s around 1,000 barrels a day right now,’ said Allen.

A live video feed showed clouds of oil still gushing from the pipe, making it hard to determine how much progress was being made.

Government scientists have estimated that 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day are pouring from the pipe.

‘I’m pretty confident this is going to work,’ said BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles, speaking on ABC.

‘It probably won’t capture all of the flow. But it should capture the vast majority.’

The containment device has four vent valves on the top to prevent the formation of hydrates, which doomed an earlier attempt at containing the flow.

Workers are ‘slowly closing the vents and increasing the flow of oil,’ Allen said.

BP on Thursday sliced off the fractured well pipe with a pair of giant shears after a diamond-blade saw got stuck. But they left a jagged edge, meaning the cap will be a looser fit than had been hoped.

Obama meanwhile is set to return to the Gulf Coast, amid mounting anger at the disaster with at least 20 million gallons of crude spewing into the sea since the drilling rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers.

The scale of the disaster forced Obama to postpone a trip to Australia and Indonesia for the second time in a clear sign that the catastrophe is forcing changes in the president’s crowded political agenda.

Shocking images of pelicans and seabirds writhing in oil along the Louisiana coast broadcast on U.S. television networks and splashed on the front pages of newspapers underscored the rising environmental costs.

Some 60 birds were on Thursday found to have been coated with oil when the leak hit the Queen Bess Island Rookery.

Of the affected birds, 41 were pelicans, Louisiana’s state bird, US officials said.

BP chief executive Tony Hayward warned in a call with investors that the cost of the spill would be ‘severe,’ but would not estimate the final price tag.

Obama has been increasingly criticised for appearing disengaged from the public outrage and showing no emotion at BP’s repeated failure to stem the leak.

‘I would love to just spend a lot of my time venting and yelling at people, but that is not what I was hired to do – my job is to solve this problem,’ Obama told CNN on Thursday, adding he was ‘furious at this entire situation’.

But he acknowledged the response from BP had not been as much as he would have liked.

‘What I haven’t seen as much as I’d like is the kind of rapid response’ on BP’s part, he said.

Spreading in oily ribbons, the slick is now threatening Alabama, Mississippi and Florida after contaminating more than 125 miles of Louisiana coastline.
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03
Jun
10

BP maneuvers cap toward pipe’s jagged top

NEWS
BP maneuvers cap toward pipe’s jagged top

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Earth

••• BP has successfully cut an underwater well pipe using hydraulic shears and will now work to place a containment cap over the leak, the senior U.S. official overseeing the response says.

‘For the first time in a couple of days I have some good news for you – we just cut the riser pipe off the lower marine package,’ Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen told reporters on Thursday, calling the operation ‘a significant step forward’.

So far, BP has met failure at every turn in its attempts to stem the flow of oil from the spewing well 1600 metres down in the Gulf.

About 20 million gallons of crude have gushed into the sea since April, after an explosion rocked the Deepwater Horizon rig, killing 11 workers and sending the platform sinking to the sea floor.

Shears were used to cut off the pipe at the top of the blow-out preventer stack after an attempt to saw off the riser with a precision diamond saw failed on Wednesday when the saw got stuck in the pipe.

‘We don’t have as clean a cut but we do have a cut now… The challenge now is to seat that containment cap over it,’ Allen said.
Once the containment cap is set and sealed, oil will be sucked up a riser pipe from the unit to a drillship on the surface.

Because the cut is irregular, a ‘very, very solid seal’ will be placed around the containment cap to reduce the amount of oil that could leak out of the device once it is set up, Allen said.

‘This is an irregular cut, so it will be a little more challenging to get the seal all around,’ said Allen.

The flow of oil from the pipe was expected to increase between the time the pipe was cut and the cap is placed over the leaking well head, but Allen had no immediate information on whether the flow had increased.

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02
Jun
10

More trouble on the horizon for BP as oil moves towards Florida

NEWS
More trouble on the horizon for BP as oil moves towards Florida

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Earth

••• BP’s latest effort to stem the oil spewing from a ruptured well 1 mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico hit a setback when a saw snagged while cutting a riser pipe, officials said Wednesday.

The diamond wire saw being used to cleanly cut off a ruptured riser pipe at the top of a failed blow-out preventer ‘has become stuck’, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen told reporters.

‘Anybody that’s ever used a saw knows every once in a while it will bind up. That’s kind of what’s happening here,’ Allen said.

The operation to cut off the leaking riser pipe and then cap it with a replacement unit for the top half of a large valve, known as the blow-out preventer (BOP) stack, is being carried out remotely using underwater robots.
A first cut was successfully made in the leaking pipe overnight, and Allen said he expected the saw would be extracted, or that a new saw would be sent down to the wrecked well head later on Wednesday.

Once the riser pipe has been cut off, a ‘cap’ will be lowered over the top of the well head to contain the oil, which will be siphoned up to a drill ship on the surface through a riser extending from the top of the containment unit.

Every attempt so far to plug the leak has failed, and BP has stressed this latest attempt will not stop the flow of oil but only stem it until two relief wells have been drilled. The drill wells are expected to be finished in August.

At least 40 million gallons of oil are estimated to have gushed into the Gulf since the April 20 explosion that sent the Deepwater Horizon rig sinking to the seabed 56 miles off the Louisiana coast.
The U.S. Coast Guard revealed yesterday that oil from the BP spill had touched barrier islands in both Mississippi and Alabama for the first time.

“Now the threat is shifting to Mississippi and Alabama,” Admiral Thad Allen of the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed. Meanwhile, officials said a thin sheen of oil had been spotted just nine miles off the beaches of Pensacola, one of the most popular resort towns in the Florida Panhandle.

The movement of the slick towards tourist areas will further fuel anger in the region at BP. It has now embarked on the placement of a “top-hat” dome over the broken well opening. Engineers hope that if it can be placed neatly, about 80 percent of the leaking oil can be funnelled to tankers above.
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01
Jun
10

Obama Pledges Criminal Inquiry Into Gulf Oil Spill

NEWS
Obama Pledges Criminal Inquiry Into Gulf Oil Spill

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Promising ‘justice’ for victims of the Gulf Coast disaster, the president moves forward with an investigative panel. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr.’s visit to the region raises the possibility of criminal charges.

U.S. President Barack Obama has held his first meeting with the leaders of an independent commission investigating the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and he says the panel will examine the disaster and its causes thoroughly to ensure that the United States never faces such a catastrophe again.

Obama spoke in the Rose Garden after the meeting and pledged that necessary changes will be made.

The president says that if laws are insufficient, they will be changed. He says that if government oversight was not tough enough, that will change, too. And Obama said if laws were broken, those who were responsible will be brought to justice.

Obama says the leaders of the commission have his support to follow the facts wherever they lead.

Good morning, everybody. I just met with these gentlemen, former Senator Bob Graham of Florida and former EPA Administrator, Bill Reilly. They will lead the National Commission on the BP oil spill in the Gulf, which is now the greatest environmental disaster of its kind in our history. Their job, along with the other members of the commission, will be to thoroughly examine the spill and its causes, so that we never face such a catastrophe again.At the same time, we’re continuing our efforts on all fronts to contain the damage from this disaster and extend to the people of the Gulf the help they need to confront this ordeal. We’ve already mounted the largest cleanup effort in the nation’s history, and continue to monitor – minute to minute – the efforts to halt or capture the flow of oil from the wrecked BP well. Until the well is stopped, we’ll multiply our efforts to meet the growing threat and to address the widespread and unbelievably painful losses experienced by the people along the Gulf Coast. What’s being threatened – what’s being lost – isn’t just the source of income, but a way of life; not just fishable waters, but a national treasure.

vThere are now more than 20,000 men and women in the region working around the clock to contain and clean up the oil. We’ve authorized more than 17,000 National Guard members to respond across four states. More than 1,700 vessels are currently aiding in the response. And we’ll ensure that any and all responsible means of containing this leak are pursued as we await the completion of the two relief wells. I’ve also directed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Admiral Thad Allen, who is the National Incident Commander, to triple the manpower in those places where oil has hit shore or is within 24 hours of impact.

The economic response continues as well. We’ve ordered BP to pay economic injury claims, and we will make sure they deliver. The Small Business Administration has stepped in to help businesses by approving loans and allowing deferrals of existing loan payments. We’ve stationed doctors and scientists across the region to look out for people’s health and monitor any ill effects felt by cleanup workers and residents. And we will absolutely continue to hold BP and any other responsible parties accountable for financial losses borne by the people in the region.

But our responsibility doesn’t end there. We have an obligation to investigate what went wrong and to determine what reforms are needed so that we never have to experience a crisis like this again. If the laws on our books are insufficient to prevent such a spill, the laws must change. If oversight was inadequate to enforce these laws, oversight has to be reformed. If our laws were broken, leading to this death and destruction, my solemn pledge is that we will bring those responsible to justice on behalf of the victims of this catastrophe and the people of the Gulf region.

When Interior Secretary Ken Salazar took office, for example, he found a Minerals and Management Services agency that had been plagued by corruption for years – corruption that was underscored by a recent Inspector General’s report that uncovered appalling activity that took place before last year. Secretary Salazar immediately took steps to clean up that corruption. But this oil spill has made clear that more reforms are needed. For years, there’s been a far too cozy relationship between oil companies and the agencies that regulate them. That’s why we’ve decided to separate the people who permit offshore leases, who collect revenues, and who regulate the safety of drilling.

In addition, we’ve placed a six-month moratorium on drilling new deepwater oil and gas wells in the Outer Continental Shelf. And now that a 30-day safety and environmental review is complete, we’re making a series of changes. The review recommended aggressive new operating standards and requirements for offshore energy companies, which we will put in place. And I’ve also called on Congress to pass a bill to provide critical resources to respond to this spill and better prepare us for any spills in the future.

Now, all that has to do with dealing with the crisis at hand. But it’s critical that we take a comprehensive look at how the oil and gas industry operates and how our government oversees those operations. That’s why I signed an executive order establishing this national commission. And I’m extraordinarily pleased that Bob Graham and Bill Reilly have agreed to be its co-chairs.

Bob served two terms as Florida’s governor, represented Florida in the Senate for almost two decades. And during that time he earned a reputation as a champion of the environment, leading the most extensive environmental protection effort in the state’s history. Bill is chairman emeritus of the board of the World Wildlife Fund, and is also deeply knowledgeable of the oil and gas industry. He also was EPA Administrator during the first Bush administration, serving during the Exxon Valdez disaster.

So I can’t think of two people who will bring greater experience or judgment to this task. I personally want to thank both of them for taking on this arduous assignment – for demonstrating a great sense of duty to this country.

Very soon I’ll appoint five other distinguished Americans, including leaders in science and engineering, to join them. And they’ll work alongside other ongoing reviews, including an independent examination by the National Academy of Engineers. And I’ve authorized the commission to hold public hearings and to request information from government, from non-for-profit organizations, and from experts in the oil and gas industry both at home and abroad, as well as from relevant companies – including BP, Transocean, Halliburton, and others.

I just said in our meeting: In doing this work, they have my full support to follow the facts wherever they may lead – without fear or favor. And I’m directing them to report back in six months with options for how we can prevent and mitigate the impact of any future spills that result from offshore drilling.

As a result of this disaster, lives have been lost. Businesses have been decimated. Communities that had already known great hardship now face the specter of sudden and painful economic dislocations. Untold damage is being done to the environment – damage that could last for decades. We owe all those who’ve been harmed, as well as future generations, a full and vigorous accounting of the events that led to what has now become the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Only then can we be assured that deepwater drilling can take place safely. Only then can we accept further development of these resources as we transition to a clean energy economy. Only then can we be confident that we’ve done what’s necessary to prevent history from repeating itself.

Thank you very much, everybody.

• Source(s): The White House
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01
Jun
10

BP’s latest plan to plug leak hits shares

NEWS
BP’s latest plan to plug leak hits shares

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Earth

••• BP officials have warned they may not be able to stop the Gulf of Mexico oil leak until August, as Louisiana residents warned the spill could wipe out dozens of fish species.

Drilling relief wells is still seen as the best solution, but they will not be completed for at least eight weeks, BP spokesman John Currie said on Monday, as U.S. officials warned the spill is now the worst environmental disaster to ever hit the United States.

BP engineers are scrambling to prepare their next bid to stop the oil from gushing into the sea, using robotic submarines to cut off a burst pipe and then capping it and siphoning the oil up to surface vessels.

Although local media said the ‘cut and cap’ procedure was under way, Currie said the effort was unlikely to begin before Wednesday.

U.S. officials and residents remained frustrated over the lack of progress.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was on his eighth trip to the Gulf region and ’emphasised the need to find an immediate, short-term solution to contain the leaking oil,’ according to a statement from the joint command centre.

‘U.S. government scientists, engineers and experts have been working with independent experts and BP officials on a variety of alternatives to contain the flow of oil immediately.’
At least 20 million gallons of oil are feared to have already flooded into the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20 killing 11 people and sank into the sea two days later.

More areas of Louisiana reported oil washed ashore Monday, extending the scope of the disaster.

U.S. officials Monday expanded a fishing ban in the Gulf of Mexico by more than 2,600 square kilometres amid a spreading oil slick.

Some 160,200 square kilometres of Gulf of Mexico waters are now closed to fishing, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said. That area is close to the size of Tunisia, according to an AFP calculation.

BP’s last attempt to stop the leak, dubbed ‘top kill,’ failed on Saturday, leaving an estimated 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of oil belching into the Gulf every day.

The still-growing slick is threatening Louisiana’s fragile wetlands, as well as the Gulf region’s fishing and tourism industries.

With hurricane season starting on Tuesday, residents fear oil could be pushed up onto the Florida, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama coastlines when storms roll through the area.

Former shrimper turned tugboat captain Kevin ‘Godzilla’ Curole told AFP, ‘This is going to kill more species of fish than BP even knows exist, and it will kill our whole way of life.

‘People used to come here to fish. But now they’re going to come here to look at a memorial to what is going to be an extinct way of life and tell their kids: ‘See? Those are fishermen. They’re the people who built this town and southern Louisiana,” he said at his home in this fishing town on Lafourche Bayou.
Two separate studies, by Louisiana State University and the University of Florida, have found large plumes of oil hanging underneath the water.

‘These plumes will make it very difficult for fish to survive in the northern margins of the Gulf. We may very well lose dozens of vulnerable fish species,’ Prosanta Chakrabarty, a fish scientist at Louisiana State University, told AFP.

The pancake batfish, a species that Chakrabarty discovered six months ago and was due to introduce to the world in August in a report in a scientific journal, was among the species under threat.

‘Unfortunately, by August the oil spill will have leaked scores of millions of gallons of oil into their habitat, as well as a million gallons of toxic dispersant,’ he said, fearing the batfish might not live long enough to be formally recognised as a species.

Meanwhile, BP warned that fraudsters saying they were employees of the British oil company were taking advantage of the economic plight brought on by the spill and ‘offering applicants training and promising job placement for a fee.

‘This is a scam. BP does not charge to train and hire applicants,’ said Neil Chapman, a spokesman for the oil company.

Thousands of fishermen have been forced by the spill to leave their boats in port during peak fishing season, as state officials shut down prime fishing grounds.

Currie said BP has been paying up to $3,000 a day to out-of-work fishermen and others who are able to prove they have been impacted by the crisis.

But on Monday, staff at a restaurant in Galliano told AFP their claims for compensation had been rejected because, although their hours have been cut since the crisis broke, they had recently been given a pay rise.

Other angry Louisiana residents slammed BP’s efforts to stop the leak as being just a well-managed show.

‘It’s all just smoke and mirrors,’ New Orleans resident Danielle Brutsche told AFP.
Representative Edward J. Markey is questioning BP’s claim that the oil company has not found evidence of underwater oil plumes. Scientists have reported plumes as long as 22 miles.

The Massachusetts Democrat said BP in this instance means “Blind to Plumes.’’ He sent a letter to chief executive Tony Hayward yesterday asking for documents to back up BP’s claims.

Markey, chairman of a House Energy and Commerce Committee environmental panel, said it is vital that the government and researchers have unfettered access to all relevant data or analysis concerning underwater plumes. He also called on BP to offer “complete transparency’’ on its video feeds from the company’s underwater operations, calling any delay or other obstacle unacceptable.
• Source(s): BP PLC, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Agence France-Presse (AFP)
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01
Jun
10

Solution to Gulf oil leak may be months away

NEWS
Solution to Gulf oil leak may be months away

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Earth

••• With BP making yet another attempt to stem the flow from a blown-out Gulf of Mexico oil well – this time only to contain the leak, not stop it – signs point to August before any real end is in sight. On top of that, hurricane season begins Tuesday.

Responding to suggestions that the military should take the lead in responding to the spill, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said on Monday the oil industry is better-equipped to deal with the disaster.

Military officials have looked at what they have available but ‘the best technology in the world, with respect to that, exists in the oil industry’, Mullen said on ABC television.

Mullen also said a decision on the military leading the response would come from the president.

The spill is already the worst in U.S. history – worse, even, than the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster. It has released between 20 million and 43 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, according to government estimates. The spill is the aftermath of a BP-operated drilling rig explosion on April 20 that killed 11 workers.

‘This is probably the biggest environmental disaster we’ve ever faced in this country,’ White House Energy and Climate Change Advisor Carol Browner said on NBC television on Sunday.

Using government figures, if the leak continues at its current pace and is stopped on August 1, 51 million to 106 million gallons will have spilled.
BP’s new plan carries the risk of making the torrent worse, top government officials warned on Sunday.

The British oil giant’s next containment effort involves an assortment of undersea robot manoeuvres that would redirect the oil up and out of the water it is poisoning.

The first step is the intricate removal of a damaged riser that brought oil to the surface of the Deepwater Horizon rig. The riser will be cut at the top of the crippled blowout preventer, creating a flat surface that a new containment valve can seal against.

The valve would force the oil into a new pipe that would bring it up to a ship. The seal, however, would not prevent all oil from escaping. Browner said the effort could result in a temporary 20 percent increase in the flow. BP has said it didn’t expect a significant increase in flow from the cutting and capping plan.

If the containment valve fails, BP may try installing a new blowout preventer on top of the existing one.

In the end, however, a relief well would ease the pressure on the runaway gusher in favour of a controlled pumping – essentially what the Deepwater Horizon was trying to do in the first place. But that will take at least two months.
As the oil washes ashore, crude-coated birds have become a frequent sight. At the sea’s bottom, no one knows what the oil will do to species like the newly discovered bottom-dwelling pancake batfish – and others that remain unknown but just as threatened.

Scientists from several universities have reported large underwater plumes of oil stretching for miles and reaching hundreds of feet beneath the Gulf’s surface, though BP chief executive Tony Hayward disputed their findings, saying the company’s tests found no such evidence of oily clouds underwater.

‘The oil is on the surface,’ Hayward said. ‘Oil has a specific gravity that’s about half that of water. It wants to get to the surface because of the difference in specific gravity.’

One researcher said their findings were bolstered by the fact that scientists from different institutions reached similar conclusions with separate tests.

‘There’s been enough evidence from enough different sources,’ said marine scientist James Cowan of Louisiana State University, who reported finding a plume last week about 80km from the spill site. Cowan said oil reached to depths of at least 0.07 mile.

Perhaps most alarming of all, 40 days after the Deepwater Horizon blew up and began the underwater deluge, hurricane season is at hand. It brings the horrifying possibility of wind-whipped, oil-soaked waves and water spinning ashore and coating areas much farther inland.
• Source(s): BP PLC
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31
May
10

U.S. prepares for the worst after best hope of oil solution falls apart

NEWS
U.S. prepares for the worst after best hope of oil solution falls apart

Monday, May 31, 2010

Earth

••• After the failure of BP’s ‘top kill’ attempt to plug the leaking Gulf of Mexico oil well, company officials say it may take a week to implement the next bid.

Hours after the British oil giant acknowledged failure in its ‘top kill’ attempt to plug the underwater well, company officials said it could take a week to implement the next bid – placing a cap over the leak.

‘Right now we are going to a containment operation,’ BP Managing Director Bob Dudley told CNN’s State of the Union program of the latest attempt to deal with the ruptured well about 1.5 kilometres under water.

‘Because this is being done at 5,000 feet with robots, we’re going to take our time, do it extremely carefully. By the end of the week, we should have this in place,’ Dudley said.

While the ‘top kill’ would have sealed the well using a combination of heavy drilling fluid and eventually cement, the new effort aims only to contain most of the leak, and might temporarily increase the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, officials said.

The well will only be sealed when BP finishes drilling two relief wells – which are supposed to be a better long-term solution – but those are not expected to be ready until August.

That means the relief well won’t be completed until the middle of the Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama’s top energy advisor, Carol Browner, said on Sunday that the spill was ‘probably the biggest environmental disaster we’ve ever faced in this country.’
‘I think what the American people need to know is that it is possible that we will have oil leaking from this well until August when the relief wells will be finished,’ she said.

The spill has dumped between 18 million gallons (68 million litres) and 40 million gallons (150 million litres) into the Gulf, according to government estimates.

The leak began after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers.

Some 500 people braved rains in New Orleans’ French Quarter on Sunday to denounce BP for the oil spill, as well as the Obama administration’s response to the disaster.

The new bid underway involves using robots to sever a damaged riser pipe carrying oil from the wellhead and placing a containment device called a Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) over the leak.

Oil would then be siphoned from the device up to a container ship at the surface.

But the process could actually increase the amount of oil leaking into the sea, and it is uncertain how much oil would be contained, Browner said on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday.

On Friday, Obama visited Louisiana for the second time since the spill began, and he pledged on Saturday to do whatever it takes to help those whose livelihoods have been upended by the catastrophe.

‘We will not relent until this leak is contained, until the waters and shores are cleaned up, and until the people unjustly victimised by this manmade disaster are made whole,’ he said.

Retired U.S. Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen – who is leading the government’s response to the spill – said at a briefing with Obama on Sunday that the federal containment effort had redoubled, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.

‘Officials on the ground have increased efforts to be more responsive to needs identified by local communities,’ Allen said, according to Gibbs.

Since the spill began, an estimated 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of crude have leaked into the Gulf each day.

The disaster has already closed stretches of coastal fishing waters, endangering the seafood industry and tourism, and threatening a catastrophe for Louisiana marshes, home to many rare species.

Government data released Thursday suggested between 18.6 million gallons and 29.5 million gallons of oil have poured into the Gulf – far more than the roughly 11 million gallons of crude spilled in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

The spill has been a public relations nightmare for BP, which faced new allegations of negligence on Sunday after The New York Times said internal company files showed the firm had serious concerns about the Deepwater rig weeks before the accident.
• Source(s): BP PLC & AP
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