Posts Tagged ‘Natural Disasters



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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27
Jul
10

BP well-killing process scheduled to start in a week

NEWS
BP well-killing process scheduled to start in a week

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

••• U.S. officials laid out on Monday a detailed timeline of how BP plans to permanently plug the Gulf of Mexico oil well, saying the all-important ‘static kill’ would begin in one week’s time.

By Saturday or Sunday at the latest, a final 656 yards of casing will be inserted into the bottom of the relief well to strengthen it so it can withstand the long-awaited ‘static kill’ intact.

Some 12 hours after the cement has set, engineers will begin the crucial operation to pump mud and cement down through the cap on the damaged well, which finally cut off the flow of crude earlier this month.

‘That’s an attempt to fill the inside of the well from the top down and then cement to secure it and make it stable,’ explained Thad Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral leading the U.S. response to the disaster.
While it is hoped this operation can effectively plug the well, the ‘static kill’ will be followed five days later by a ‘bottom kill’ operation just to make sure.

Engineers will drill through the relief well into the annulus at the bottom of the damaged well. The annulus is the area between the pipe and the outside of the well bore.

The ‘static kill’ can only plug the area inside the pipe, while the ‘bottom kill’ also aims to cement over the annulus to be certain the oil reservoir is permanently sealed.

‘So when we enter the well bore of the Macondo well we will first fill the annulus full of mud and then cement it in,’ said Allen.
‘When that cement dries then we will go back and drill through it again and into the pipe.

‘We will ascertain at that point whether or not the top kill or static kill have actually killed it or whether we have to do more. That’s when we will know absolutely that the well’s been killed.’

If all goes according to plan, the leaking well could be plugged once and for all during the second week of August.

If upper estimates above four million barrels are confirmed, the disaster that began on April 20 with an explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig will be the biggest accidental spill ever.
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