Posts Tagged ‘Halliburton

12
Jul
10

Oil spill hopes raise with BP’s latest effort to fix it

NEWS
Oil spill hopes raise with BP’s latest effort to fix it

Monday, July 12, 2010

Earth••• BP reported good progress on its high-stakes effort to fully contain the Gulf of Mexico oil leak by fixing a tighter cap over the giant gusher.

Operations have reached a critical phase as engineers race to take advantage of a stretch of fine weather in the midst of the Atlantic hurricane season to install a new system with the potential to capture all the leaking crude.

Expected to take between four and seven days, the round-the-clock work began at midday on Saturday when the old, less efficient cap was ripped off a fractured pipe 1.6km down on the sea floor by robotic submarines.

‘We are pleased with our progress,’ BP Vice President Kent Wells told journalists almost 24 hours in. ‘We have carefully planned and practised this whole procedure. We’ve tried to work out as many of the bugs as we can.’

Sunday’s operations saw a transition spool being lowered into place which must be bolted onto the leaking pipe before a gigantic funnel – weighing 68 tonnes and dubbed the ‘Top Hat 10’ – can be installed.

The old ‘Top Hat’ system collected roughly 25,000 barrels of crude every day, but estimates suggest that could be less than half the leak.

BP says the new cap and the deployment of a third containment ship called the Helix Producer will raise the system’s capacity to between 60,000 and 80,000 barrels a day, enough to capture all the leaking oil.

The new system has also been designed so it can be disconnected and reconnected more easily in the case of a hurricane and has a built-in device that should give the first precise estimate of the overall flow.
No permanent solution is expected until mid-August at the earliest when the first of two relief wells is due to be completed – allowing drilling fluids to be injected into the well, which would then be sealed with cement.

The decision to remove the old cap and allow most of the oil to pour unchecked into the sea was approved by Admiral Thad Allen, the former Coast Guard chief leading the US government’s response to the disaster.

Although the removal of the cap forced the suspension of the main containment operation, a separate siphoning system is taking a smaller proportion of the oil to be flared off on a surface vessel.

Wells said two more ships would join a fleet of 46 skimming vessels scooping up oil off the sea and said 15 controlled burns of the surface crude had been carried out on Saturday.

Oil has washed up on beaches in all five Gulf states – Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida – forcing fishing grounds to be closed and threatening scores of coastal communities with financial ruin.

The man charged with doling out compensation to victims of the spill said he could not estimate whether the initial $20 billion fund set up by BP would be enough to pay compensation claims.

‘If they are eligible, we will give them up to six months emergency (compensation),’ Kenneth Feinberg told CNN, adding: ‘I can’t help people if they don’t file.’

Many fishermen and others who work in the Gulf get paid in cash and do not have paperwork to back up their claims. Some are also worried that if they ask for compensation, the government will seek taxes for previous income.
While the containment effort and the claims process continued apace, the attorney general said the Justice Department was also still considering whether to bring criminal charges against the culprit or culprits.

‘The investigation is ongoing. We are in the process of accumulating documents, talking to witnesses on both the criminal side and the civil side,’ Eric Holder told CBS’s Face the Nation program.

Holder was quick to stress that when he announced the probe on June 1, he had been careful not to mention BP by name as it was not the only party involved with the Deepwater Horizon rig.

At congressional hearings back in May, BP, rig owner Transocean and oil services provider Halliburton blamed each other for the spill as executives from all three oil titans were grilled by U.S. lawmakers.

The man charged with doling out BP’s compensation to victims of the Gulf oil spill said on Sunday he is prepared to pay up to six months of expenses in advance, but getting people to file claims is a struggle.

Kenneth Feinberg told CNN he wanted to provide ‘some degree of financial certainty’, to people who have found their livelihoods hurt by the massive oil spill. ‘If they are eligible, we will give them up to six months emergency (compensation).’

But, he lamented, ‘I can’t help people if they don’t file.’

Many of the fishermen and others who work in the Gulf region regularly get paid in cash and do not have paperwork to back up their claims of lost income. They are also worried that if they ask for compensation, the government will seek taxes for previous income.

The BP-leased rig exploded on April 20 killing 11 workers. It sank two days later, unleashing the nation’s worst ever environmental disaster.
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07
Jul
10

Oil comes ashore in Texas as BP dismisses money fears

NEWS
Oil comes ashore in Texas as BP dismisses money fears

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Earth••• Clean-up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill extended Tuesday to Texas and Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana, as BP dismissed reports of deeper financial woes.

Officials said crews collected tar balls and waste from Lake Pontchartrain, the vast estuary near New Orleans, as rough weather continued to hamper the containment and skimming effort near the spill site in the Gulf.

U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said the huge spill was now threatening all the states along the Gulf coast from Florida to Texas and that rough seas since the passage of Hurricane Alex had hurt the effort.

The first Atlantic hurricane of the year passed through the Gulf of Mexico last week without too much alarm for the oil containment efforts, but Allen said two nearby storm systems were being closely watched.

‘We’re watching very, very closely the swells and waves that might be generated by this current storm system,’ he said.

‘Sometime in the seven to 10 days we’ll look for a window of opportunity to put the containment cap on at the same time we will go on and continue with the drilling of the relief well.’
A BP spokeswoman in London denied the firm was planning to sell new stock to a strategic investor to raise money, amid reports the British government is working on a crisis plan if the company is sunk by the disaster.

‘We are not issuing any new equity,’ she said. ‘We welcome new shareholders to come onto the shareholder register and we welcome existing shareholders who want to take a bigger amount of shares.’

The Times newspaper in London reported that officials at the Department of Business and the Treasury were already considering contingencies for BP’s potential collapse.

‘It is not clear how bad this will get, but the government needs to be prepared for any eventuality,’ an anonymous source said to be familiar with the talks was quoted as saying.

BP has forked out some $3.12 billion in spill-related costs and has promised to pay another $20 billion into an escrow fund to compensate Americans affected by the spill.

The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig sank on April 22, two days after an explosion that killed 11 workers, unleashing the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
On Sunday, tar balls from the spill arrived on beaches in Texas, more than 310 miles away, though it was unclear how the crude got there.

Tests showed they did come from the BP Deepwater Horizon well but scientists and officials were working to determine if they arrived in Texas by currents or via ships operating in the vicinity of the well head.

The tar balls in Lake Pontchartrain were also being tested.

Some 492 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline has been oiled, and fishing ground closures and tourist cancellations threaten financial ruin for residents who have reacted angrily to BP’s failure to cap the spill.

Up to 60,000 barrels of oil a day is believed to be leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, far outpacing the collection efforts of a system that is capturing around 25,000 barrels a day.

Officials hope to more than double that capacity to some 53,000 barrels a day by hooking up a third containment vessel, the Helix Producer, to the system that captures and siphons away the crude.

‘There is a partial hookup right now and they can sustain that unless they have really severe sea states,’ said Allen, the U.S. official coordinating the spill response.

‘We won’t know for several hours whether they’re able to do it. It currently is a work in progress.’
Officials were also testing a mega-tanker, A Whale, which could boost efforts to skim spilled crude from the sea surface.

The ship is believed to be able to suck up to 500,000 barrels of oily water a day through its ‘jaws’, a series of vents on the side of the ship.

By comparison, more than 500 smaller vessels in 10 weeks have only managed to collect some 31.3 million gallons of oil-water mix between them and high waves forced most of the boats to halt operations on Tuesday.

It will likely be mid-August at the earliest before the ruptured well is permanently capped by injecting mud and cement with the aid of relief wells.

The high end of the oil leak estimates means it has now surpassed the 1979 Ixtoc blowout, which took nine months to cap and dumped an estimated 3.3 million barrels into the Gulf of Mexico.

It is topped only by the deliberate release of six to eight million barrels of crude by Iraqi troops who destroyed tankers and oil terminals and set wells ablaze in Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War.
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04
Jul
10

Rough seas halt U.S. spill clean-up as crews test mega-skimmer

NEWS
Rough seas halt U.S. spill clean-up as crews test mega-skimmer

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Earth••• Clean-up work resumed in some areas of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but heavy swells kept many boats docked, halting efforts to fight the ecological disaster.

A Taiwanese mega-skimmer dubbed the ‘A Whale’ was in position near the site of the leak and set to undergo 48 hours of ‘proof of concept’ testing, Coast Guard spokeswoman Ayla Kelley said.
The 903 feet long tanker can vacuum up 21 million gallons of oily water a day, separating oil from water and spitting the seawater back out.

Small skimming boats that have been patrolling the Gulf for the past 10 weeks have only collected 28.2 million gallons of oily water to date, and rough weather made seas off Louisiana too choppy for them to even go out on Saturday.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Kelly Parker at a Houma, Louisiana information centre said crews were resetting protective booms along fragile coastal areas, but skimming and controlled burns of spilled crude had been halted.

However, around the Chandeleur Islands, a chain of uninhabited barrier islands and wildlife refuge at Louisiana’s easternmost point, boom and skimming operations resumed on Friday, said a representative of Admiral Thad Allen, the top official overseeing the spill response.

‘These are the most environmentally sensitive areas. The good news is that we saw only light oil and there were hundreds of boats working in the area resetting boom and skimming,’ rear admiral Paul Zunkunft told reporters after he flew over the islands.

‘The areas are critical to defend because they are home to turtles, shrimp and other wildlife,’ Zukunft said.
Despite containment efforts, he warned: ‘We are not out of the woods yet.’

An estimated 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil per day has gushed from the ruptured well since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sank on April 22, some 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana.

A containment system has captured about 557,000 barrels of oil, but rough seas delayed the deployment of a third vessel that could boost capacity from 25,000 barrels to 53,000 barrels a day.

That means an estimated 1.9 to 3.6 million barrels – or 79.5 to 153 million gallons – of oil has now gushed into the Gulf.

Using the high end of that estimate, the spill has now surpassed the 1979 Ixtoc blowout, which took nine months to cap and dumped an estimated 3.3 million barrels (140,000 million gallons) into the Gulf of Mexico.

It is topped only by the deliberate release of six to eight million barrels of crude by Iraqi troops who destroyed tankers and oil terminals and set wells ablaze in Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War.
And it will likely be mid-August at the earliest before the Gulf well is permanently capped by injecting mud and cement with the aid of relief wells.
Skimmers had been collecting about 12,000 barrels of oil a day before they were sent back to port after Hurricane Alex whipped up waves earlier this week, while about 8,000 barrels of oil was being burned off the surface.
But the spill has so far oiled at least 450 miles of U.S. shorelines, 74 days into the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Admiral Allen said he hoped to have the third containment vessel, the Helix Producer, in place by Wednesday.

Once the Producer is working, officials will also have a better sense of just how much crude is leaking, ‘just by the visual evidence of how much oil is actually coming out around that cap’, Allen said.

They will then have to decide if the existing system should stay in place, or if it would be best to undergo a risky procedure to replace the cap with another system capable of capturing up to 80,000 barrels of oil a day.

‘The decision window associated with that would be sometime in the next, I would say, seven to 10 days,’ Allen said in a conference call on Friday.

In addition to boosting capacity, the new system would also greatly reduce the amount of time oil could gush freely into the sea if crews had to evacuate due to a bad storm.

Meanwhile, Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson was headed to Pensacola, Florida to oversee coastal clean-up operations in the state, where tourist draws Miami and the Florida Keys face the likelihood of fouled beaches.
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30
Jun
10

Obama slams Republicans over BP ‘apology’ and economy

NEWS
Obama slams Republicans over BP ‘apology’ and economy

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

••• U.S. President Barack Obama lampooned Republicans over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on Wednesday, seeking to turn a disaster that has been a political liability for him into a political weapon.

Obama cited a gaffe by a leading Republican politician who said the US government’s hardline tactics were a ‘tragedy’ for BP, to lambast the opposition party as the pace heats up ahead of November’s mid-term elections.

He said some Republicans opposed raising the legal cap on liabilities BP must pay to clean-up America’s worst environmental disaster and a $20 billion BP escrow compensation fund for businesses victimised by it.

‘The top Republican on the energy committee even had the nerve to apologise to BP for the fact that we made them set up this fund,’ Obama said in remarks released by the White House prior to a presidential event in Wisconsin.

‘Apologise to BP! He actually called the fund a tragedy. A tragedy? A tragedy is what the people of the Gulf are going through right now.

‘That’s the tragedy. And our government has a responsibility to hold the corporations accountable that caused it. They want to take us backwards. We want to move forward.’

Democrats are mercilessly using comments by Republican Representative Joe Barton, who offered them a golden opening by apologising to BP for the escrow fund, which he called a $20 billion White House ‘shakedown’ of BP.

Barton has retracted the remarks, and his party leaders have condemned them, but the comments are bound to be seized upon often by Democrats in the run-up to November’s congressional polls, in which the party fears heavy losses.
Obama’s switch to full bore politicking mode over the oil spill reflects the way both political parties will try to use the disaster for political advantage. Republicans have accused Obama of being too passive in the crisis.

Recent polling give the president poor to moderate ratings on how he has handled the oil spill, though his management of the crisis is much preferred by Americans to the performance over BP during the disaster.

Forty-four per cent of those asked in a Gallup poll this month approved of Obama’s efforts, while 48 per cent disapproved.

BP and other oil firms are currently bound under U.S. law to pay all related clean-up costs from a spill, but the limit on liability for compensation and other claims is set at $75 million.

Democratic efforts to raise the cap took another step forward on Wednesday as the Senate Environment and Public Works committee approved a bill retroactively removing the cap for BP.

The bill now heads to the full chamber for debate.

‘As we see the images and read the stories from the Gulf Coast night after night, it could not be clearer that coastal families and taxpayers are the ones who need protection, not oil companies,’ the bill’s sponsor Robert Menendez said.
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24
Jun
10

After Earlier Troubles, BP Says It Restored Cap

NEWS
After Earlier Troubles, BP Says It Restored Cap
Thursday, June 24, 2010

Earth••• BP on Wednesday reinstalled an oil containment system sucking up crude from a ruptured pipe in the Gulf of Mexico, which had been removed following a collision with a robotic submarine.

The oil cap ‘was successfully reinstalled on the Deepwater Horizon’s failed blow-out preventer’ at 6.30 pm Wednesday, BP said in a statement, adding that ‘the system resumed collecting oil and gas’ a half hour later.

Oil spewed unhindered into the Gulf of Mexico when BP detached the “top hat” cap, which traps leaking oil and then siphons it up to a container ship, and made repairs after a remote-controlled submarine crashed into it.

The setback marked a terrible start for American Bob Dudley in his first day as BP’s disaster coordinator, brought in by the firm to replace gaffe-prone British CEO Tony Hayward.

Admiral Thad Allen, leading the U.S. government effort to confront the nation’s worst ever environmental disaster, said earlier the cap had been removed for inspection after crews detected gas.

“Out of an abundance of caution … they moved the containment cap with the riser pipe and moved away so they can assess the condition,” Allen told reporters earlier on Wednesday, before the cap was reattached.

“They indicated the problem was a remotely-operated vehicle had bumped into one of the vents,” Allen said, adding that the vent had then closed, creating pressure that had forced up gas and other materials.

The cap is siphoning away some 25,000 barrels of oil each day, and keeping it off would have exacerbated the dire effects of the massive leak that has allowed between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels of crude to gush into the sea, according to the latest U.S. government estimates.

Completing a disastrous start for Dudley, Allen said two people involved in the clean-up efforts had been reported dead in separate incidents.
One was killed in what he described as “an accident regarding a swimming pool,” and the second individual died of a likely self-inflicted gunshot to the head, according to the local Alabama coroner who treated the body.

Dudley assumes command from Hayward, who faced massive criticism of his handling of the spill, including accusations of insensitivity, and was ridiculed as out of touch.

Unlike Hayward, Dudley is an American citizen who spent much of his childhood in Mississippi, one of the four southern U.S. states whose coastlines face an environmental catastrophe.

The news came as administration officials pledged to redouble efforts to freeze new deepwater oil drilling while they assessed safety regulations.

On Tuesday, Judge Martin Feldman overturned a drilling moratorium authorised by President Barack Obama in the spill’s aftermath, saying it was ‘arbitrary and capricious’.

But the White House pledged to appeal the decision and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told lawmakers at a hearing on Wednesday that he would soon issue a new order to ensure the freeze sticks.

“We will move forward with the executive authority which I have to make sure that the moratorium stays in place,” Salazar said.

The Obama administration believes the decision flies in the face of mounting evidence that there are serious safety risks with the 33 deepwater wells in question.

But oil workers and executives argue the freeze is driving away business, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, said the moratorium hurt the same people already being negatively impacted by the spill.

An internal BP document released by a U.S. lawmaker this week showed the firm contemplated a worst-case scenario of up to 100,000 barrels, or 4.2 million gallons, a day leaking.

America’s worst previous oil spill, the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, dumped nearly 11 million gallons off the Alaskan coast, but even under the low end of current estimates, more than 90 million gallons have entered the Gulf.

BP has spent $2 billion so far on cleaning up the spill and compensating residents and businesses facing ruin.
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24
Jun
10

Gulf oil spill has new face: BP replaces Tony Hayward with Bob Dudley as head of cleanup effort

NEWS
Gulf oil spill has new face: BP replaces Tony Hayward with Bob Dudley as head of cleanup effort
Thursday, June 24, 2010

••• BP put Mississippi native Bob Dudley in charge of handling the Gulf oil spill in an effort to take the spotlight off chief executive Tony Hayward.

BP PLC confirmed that Dudley, who grew up in Hattiesburg, an easy drive from the coast, is now the point man in the mission to stop the oil gusher and deal with the economic damage it has caused.

Dudley, who had led BP’s operations in the Americas and Asia, is no stranger to tough situations, having protected his company’s interests in rough dealing in Russia even after he was barred from the country.

The 54-year-old spent two decades climbing the ranks at Amoco Corp., which merged with BP, and lost out to Hayward on the CEO’s slot three years ago.

Perhaps most importantly, he is a fresh face for the oil company as it attempts to fix the spill and protect its future. Hayward shocked Gulf residents last month when he said “I’d like my life back” and weeks later went yachting.

Dudley was appointed president and chief executive of the newly created Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, effective immediately, and will report to Hayward.

“In the near term, my focus will be on listening to stakeholders, so we can address concerns and remove obstacles that get in the way of our effectiveness. And we’ll build an organisation that over the longer term fulfils BP’s commitments to the restore the livelihoods and the environment of the Gulf Coast,” Dudley said.

The reorganisation followed a series of humiliations in recent days for BP. Last week it bowed to President Barack Obama’s demand that it set up a $20 billion escrow fund to cover damages and to suspend dividend payments, followed a day later by a public thrashing for Hayward before a Congressional committee.

Hayward repeatedly apologised and expressed sorrow for the oil leak caused by a fire and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20. Eleven workers on the rig died.

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee were infuriated when Hayward denied direct responsibility for operational decisions which may have led to the disaster.

“You’re really insulting our intelligence,” Rep. Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York, said at Thursday’s hearing. “I am thoroughly disgusted.”
Hayward had a further public relations gaffe over the weekend when he was photographed at a yacht race, and on Tuesday he ducked out of a previously announced commitment to speak at an oil industry conference in London.

A defining moment in BP’s response to the disaster came on May 30 with Hayward’s unguarded remark that “There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I’d like my life back.”

Prime Minister David Cameron intends to press Obama this weekend at the G8 summit for more clarity on the ultimate financial cost that BP will face, the British leader’s office said.

Cameron told the House of Commons on Wednesday that the company is prepared to meet its obligations to fund the clean up and compensate those whose businesses have been blighted by the spill.

“But we do want to make sure that this remains a strong and stable company, for our benefit but also for the benefit of the United States,” Cameron said.

BP said the newly formed organisation will manage all aspects of the response to the Deepwater Horizon incident and the oil and gas spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That includes clean-up operations, coordinating with the U.S. government and local officials, and managing the $20 billion escrow account.

“Having grown up in Mississippi, Bob has a deep appreciation and affinity for the Gulf Coast, and believes deeply in BP’s commitment to restore the region,” Hayward said.

“Our commitment to the Gulf States is for the long-term. And that requires a more permanent sustainable organisation to see it through,” Hayward added.

BP had said on Tuesday that Dudley would be taking the lead in the United States while Hayward retreated to his chief executive role.

Dudley’s oil industry career began in 1979 with Amoco, which merged with BP in 1998.

Between 1994 and 1997 Dudley was based in Moscow, working on developing Amoco’s business in Russia. From 2003 to 2008, he was president and chief executive of TNK-BP, a joint venture in Russia with a consortium of billionaires.

In that job, he steered the firm through a series of politically explosive disputes that saw one employee charged with espionage, the company’s offices raided by Russian intelligence, an investor boycott and a barrage of tax and labour investigations.
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22
Jun
10

U.S. slaps BP with new bill

NEWS
U.S. slaps BP with new bill
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

••• The White House has slapped BP with a new $51 million bill, the third sent to the British energy giant.

Officials have stressed that they would keep billing the British energy giant for all associated costs from America’s biggest-ever environmental disaster, under a U.S. law requiring oil firms to pay for cleanups.

“As a responsible party, BP is financially responsible for all costs associated with the response to the spill,” the administration said.

That includes “efforts to stop the leak at its source, reduce the spread of oil, protect the shoreline and mitigate damages, as well as long term recovery efforts to ensure that all individuals and communities impacted by the spill are made whole.”

Two earlier bills to BP and other responsible parties this month amounting to $70.89 million were paid in full, it said in a statement.
The invoice charges the firms for ‘specific federal government expenses’ including response costs for more than 24 federal entities and agencies from three U.S. states, as well as for reimbursing the trust fund set up by BP and the government to reimburse local individuals and businesses affected by the massive spill.

The Oil Pollution Act of 1990, enacted after the Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska, made oil giants liable for cleanup costs resulting from spills and is being used by the administration to hold BP’s feet to the fire.

Obama has also vowed to hold BP responsible if it is found that the company broke any laws before the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in April.

BP said on Monday it has so far spent $2 billion on the spill, including ongoing efforts at containment, relief well drilling, grants to Gulf states, claims paid to thousands of affected individuals and businesses, and costs incurred by the U.S. government.
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