Archive for the ‘Deepwater Horizon’ Category

Yesterday the U.S. Justice Department filed suit against BP and several other companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf, accusing them of disregarding safety regulations leading to the explosion, which led to the spill and caused the death of 11 workers.

The other companies are: Anadarko Exploration & Production LP; Anadarko Petroleum Corp.; MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC; Triton Asset Leasing GMBH; Transocean Holdings LLC; Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc.; Transocean Deepwater Inc.; and Transocean’s insurer, QBE Underwriting Ltd./Lloyd’s Syndicate 1036. Haliburton was not named but could be added later. Haliburton was the cement contractor for the project and the maker of the valve that failed.

The lawsuit makes it possible for the federal government to seek billions of dollars in penalties for polluting the Gulf of Mexico, beaches and wetlands, and reimbursement for its cleanup costs.

More than 300 lawsuits filed previously by individuals and businesses, and now consolidated in the New Orleans federal court, include claims for financial losses and compensation for the families of 11 workers

The suit asks that the companies be held liable without limitation under the Oil Pollution Act for all removal costs and damages caused by the spill, including damages to natural resources. The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties under the Clean Water Act.

Under the Clean Water Act alone, BP faces fines of up to $1,100 for each barrel of oil spilled. If BP were found to have committed gross negligence or willful misconduct, the fine could be up to $4,300 per barrel.

Based on the government’s estimate of 206 million gallons released by the well, BP could face civil fines of between $5.4 billion and $21.1 billion. BP disputes the estimate.

Just as the lawsuit is being filed comes the news that more of the newly released WikiLeaks cables show, among other things, that BP had a similar blowout following a gas leak in Azerbaijan just 18 months before the blowout in the Gulf Of Mexico.

The Guardian, one of five media outlets with early access to the trove of diplomatic communications being gradually released by WikiLeaks, released its report on the latest group of cables, one of which reveals that in 2008 BP suffered a blowout similar to the one that would later cause the Deepwater Horizon disaster:

On the Azerbaijan gas leak, a cable reports for the first time that BP suffered a blowout in September 2008, as it did in the Gulf with devastating consequences in April, as well as the gas leak that the firm acknowledged at the time.

“Due to the blowout of a gas-injection well there was ‘a lot of mud’ on the platform, which BP would analyze to help find the cause of the blowout and gas leak,” the cable said.

Written a few weeks after the incident, the cable said Bill Schrader, BP’s then head of Azerbaijan, admitted it was possible the company “would never know” the cause although it “is continuing to methodically investigate possible theories”.

According to another cable, in January 2009 BP thought that a “bad cement job” was to blame for the gas leak in Azerbaijan. More recently, BP’s former chief executive Tony Hayward also partly blamed a “bad cement job” by contractor Halliburton for the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Guardian also reported that other leaked cables revealed:

  • Azerbaijan’s president accused BP of stealing $10 billion worth of oil from his country and using “mild blackmail” to secure rights to develop gas reserves in the Caspian Sea region.
  • American energy firm Chevron was talking to Iran about developing an Iraq-Iran cross-border oilfield, despite U.S. sanctions.

Coming on the heels of the release of the cables and the lawsuit is yet more bad news for BP:

BP Plc fell the most in almost four months in London trading after the Obama administration filed a suit saying the company and four others violated environmental laws in the largest U.S. oil spill.

The shares dropped as much as 3.2 percent, the most since Aug. 24, and were down 7.2 pence, or 1.5 percent to 469.35 pence as of 3:33 p.m. local time. BP has fallen 28 percent since the April 20 blowout on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers and caused the Macondo well to leak crude into the Gulf of Mexico until July.

I suppose that BP hopes there is some truth to the old expression “bad news comes in threes,” but something tells me three is only the beginning.


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As investigations continue into Halliburton’s role in the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico last April, the company is now facing subpoenas from the Environmental Protection Agency over natural gas extraction methods and their potentially adverse effects on drinking water and public health.

The extraction method, called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” would be used to develop shale gas fields in several states, and has already been used in the west. The EPA is seeking information on the chemical ingredients in the fluids used in the extraction process. During the fracking process crews inject vast quantities of water, sand and chemicals underground to force open channels in sand and rock formations so oil and natural gas will flow.

News reports recently claimed the fluids seep into drinking water, and demonstrated how tap water can be literally set on fire from a household faucet. The fracking process is also the subject of the documentary “Gasland.”

From The Los Angeles Times:

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a subpoena to compel Halliburton Co., the nation’s largest oil field services company, to provide complete information on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method the company pioneered to extract natural gas by injecting fluids into tight rock formations deep underground.

Halliburton remained the only company of nine that did not fully comply with a September request to provide the information voluntarily, according to EPA. The others either complied or “made unconditional commitments” to provide the information expeditiously, the EPA said.

“As a result, and as part of the agency’s effort to move forward as quickly as possible, today EPA issued a subpoena to the company requiring submission of the requested information that has yet to be provided,” a statement from the agency said…..

….A Halliburton spokeswoman said the company had already turned over 5,000 pages to the EPA and was “disappointed” with the EPA’s decision, but was working with the agency to narrow the scope of its request….

….Halliburton has attracted ample scrutiny over the years over hydraulic fracturing and contracts in Iraq, particularly during the tenure of Vice President Dick Cheney, who led the company from 1995 to 2000, and had a leading role in formulating the Bush administration’s energy policy.

A Times investigation revealed that as vice president, Cheney’s office helped back hydraulic fracturingas part of the Bush Administration’s energy policy. An EPA report that concluded there was no danger to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing in coal-bed methane deposits in Wyoming was criticized as flawed by agency staffers, prompting an ongoing investigation by the EPA inspector general’s office. The Bush administration worked to keep the practice from being regulated under the federal Clean Water Act.

Read the rest of the story here.

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Due to problems with claims from the BP oil disaster, Alex Sink has set up a new claims website for Floridians.

Sink has been critical of new claims czar Ken Feinberg, saying he’s paying “too little, too late:”

“I’m kind of the mind-set that enough is enough,” Sink, the Democrat candidate for governor, said at this morning’s Cabinet meeting. “I don’t know about you all but I’m sick and tired of this. These desperate people through no fault of their own having to shut their business down? That’s horrendous!”

Sink said the owners of Harmony Beach Vacations in Destin sent her an e-mail yesterday telling her they were going out of business because their claim for lost revenues has languished under both BP and Feinberg, who took over the oil giant’s maligned claims process for individuals and businesses on Aug. 23.

Feinberg hasn’t yet responded to a letter Sink and Gov. Charlie Crist sent to Feinberg last week demanding that he revamp his claims process and appear before them at their next Cabinet meeting in two weeks, Sink said.

Claims no doubt will be an ongoing problem for years to come, as Gulf Coast residents continue to feel setbacks from the disaster.

National Geographic published an article a few days ago showing that the oil is far from gone, and it illustrates how the disaster may have only just begun.

The new website, along with other oil spill resources can be found here.

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Today House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Bart Stupak released findings on how much BP has spent on advertising since the oil disaster to Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) who prompted the probe.

Among the findings:

Between April 2010 and July 2010, BP spent more than $93 million on advertising. That equates to an average of $5 million a week.

That is triple the amount the company spent on advertising during the same time frame in 2009.

Castor’s office sent out the information in a news release:

Upon learning that BP has spent more than $93 million in advertising between April and July, Castor said: “BP’s extensive advertising campaign that is solely focused on polishing its corporate image in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon blowout disaster is making people angry. As small businesses, fishermen, and mom and pop motels, hotels and restaurants struggle to make ends meet, they are bombarded by BP’s corporate marketing largess day after day. BP should be doing more to address the damage to the Gulf Coast tourism industry, fishing industry, and for researchers and for the taxpayers.

“While BP’s advertising campaign ramped up, businesses and the Gulf communities struggled to deal with the costs of the disaster. While BP’s advertising campaign is being executed like clockwork, business and state claims have languished. While BP certainly has the right to advertise, its approach has been insensitive to the taxpayers and business owners harmed by the Deepwater Horizon blowout. BP should use a significant portion of its advertising dollars to ease the strain on Florida small businesses that rely on tourism. Some of the focus should be devoted to marketing and advertising to promote the beautiful, pristine beaches of Florida and give a boost to our struggling tourism economy.”

Castor also referred to Conde Nast, University of Central Florida, U.S. Travel Association and other economic impact studies that have shown the economic impact of the BP oil disaster to tourism and the state’s overall economy is projected to be in the billions of dollars.

The letter to Rep. Castor, below:

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For all of you GOP-Tea Baggers in Florida who love the Free-Market, and small government there’s good news about those BP claims:

Florida Realtors will divvy up $16 million to cover lost sales in the aftermath of the April 20th Deepwater Horizon rig blast and ensuing massive oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Florida’s sharing in about $60 million claims czar Ken Feinberg set aside for real estate agents and brokers.

So a big “WOOT WOOT!” for you! Free Market realtors win!

Oh, wait. Do some of you GOP-Tea Baggers own a home in Florida? Which may tank in value due to that little Free Market BP oil “mishap?” And the loss of tourism in the state? Sorry, you may just want to take off that party hat and put down the kazoo for a minute.

He’s (Feinberg) already given property owners the bad news that they’ll likely get nada from the $20 billion fund set up by BP to cover losses caused by the spill.

Really hope you love that home enough to spend the rest of your life in it while Florida’s economy tanks and others flee. Like, say realtors who took their claims and ran for greener, less oily pastures. Bummer. But hey, you win some you lose some right? But you just keep that chin up while you gaze at those pictures of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush and Little Jeb on your mantel and repeat this mantra: “Elections have consequences, elections have consequences, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” Feel better? There you go!

Getting back to those claims:

Each of the Gulf Coast states’ real estate associations will dole out the funds to realtors.

Florida Realtors, the state association representing realtors, hired Indiana-based claims adjustment firm NCA to handle the claims and administer the funds, according to press release issued by the association.

Feinberg, who took over BP’s botched claims system at 12:01 a.m this morning, has said that realtors were the loudest group making a pitch for how the oil disaster made an already sluggish real estate market even worse.

Bad news: Little guy homeowners (that would be you) have small voices.

Good news: Drill, baby, drill!

One more item, while we’re on the subject of claims. In the Free Market, it appears that size matters:

Ken Feinberg, the new claims czar appointed by BP and President Obama, said Tuesday that commercial fishermen and charter boat captains from Florida may not be eligible for a full six months of emergency payments for lost revenues caused by BP’s massive oil spill.

And there’s more:

Florida lawmakers also may be backing off Republican leaders’ promise earlier this summer to hold a special session in September to address economic problems in the Panhandle created by the spill.

After all, your beloved Republican leaders told you there was no need for a special session anyway. Pshaw!

Hotels owner, are you? Maybe a Restaurant?

…hotel operators and restaurant owners also want special treatment. The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association brought high-powered trial lawyer Fred Levin to a meeting with Feinberg Tuesday afternoon to ask for a separate process to handle their claims. Feinberg said later that probably won’t happen.

As Feinberg prepares to take over BP’s claims process on Monday, the sense of urgency about how to help the Panhandle recover seems to be dissipating.

Feinberg has pledged emergency payments to cover six months of losses under his new, expedited system. Last week, he said he would begin making individual payments within 24 hours of receiving a claim. On Tuesday, he said it would take at least 48 hours for those payments to get approved.

But, wait! It’s safe to fish now, really. The government said so! They’ve even got people with expertise sniffing your seafood for you! No oil! Safe! (Well, except there’s no test for dispersant.)

In the face of continued complaints from mom-and-pop hoteliers, restaurant owners and fishermen that the stigma of the oil spill continues to affect them, Feinberg said, “What do you mean you can’t fish for six months? Your compatriots are fishing now. I’m reading it in the newspaper. So the new wrinkle … that I didn’t confront two weeks ago, or two months ago, is what is the impact of the spill as every day I read in the newspaper things are improving. Thank goodness.”

It’s all good! Suck it up!

There’s lots more, but you can read that later here. Right now you may want to just sit back a while and take it all in slowly. Just relax and breath in all that fresh Free Market air. (Actually don’t breathe in too deeply. Corexit and all, you know.) Just put your feet up and gaze up at those pictures on your mantel.

But hey, you know what? I’ll bet you could get a real bargain on a picture of Tony Hayward to put in between Dick and Dubya! That way you’ll always remember the price of that GOP, BP Free Market freedom!

Feel better now? Sure you do!

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Don’t insult my intelligence. Again.

Since April 20 when the Deepwater Horizon exploded and killed 11 workers (repeat: KILLED 11, many forget that part) we’ve all watched the disaster unfold in spite of the misinformation, or the lack of any whatsoever, from BP and others. Even after demands were met to put a live camera feed down below so we could get a graphic of the destruction, we were told not to believe our lying eyes. We were faced every day by the “can’t look away” horror of oil gushing out of that well, and for those of us who live in states along the Gulf Coast it’s like a palpable slow death on camera. We’ve been given so many conflicting statements and timelines there’s no room for a list here.

Today we heard some of the biggest, boldest, and quite frankly ridiculous statements yet. They would be laughable if the subject weren’t so deadly serious.

Just like magic, on the very same day, the gushing well which has defied all efforts imagined by man to plug it, has been fixed after only eight hours, AND almost all the oil in the Gulf of Mexico is gone! POOF! It’s a miracle!

Yes. That’s what we are to believe. And who wouldn’t have confidence in such a statement like this one:

“We’ve pretty much made this well not a threat, but we need to finish this from the bottom,” retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man on the spill response, told WWL-TV in New Orleans.

“We’ve pretty much made this well not a threat, but we need to finish this from the bottom,” What would we do without the genius that is Thad Allen and his BP friends? So much for the “technical oil industry jargon.” But since we’re on the subject, a well that is currently “pretty much not a threat” is neither “static” nor “killed” so let’s stop referring to it as such. The secret is “pretty much” out that Allen and the crew don’t have a clue, and calling this a “kill,” static or otherwise is tantamount to draping a “Mission Accomplished” banner over the gusher-cam at this point. Just say it: “Who knows?”

For those of you with posture-perfect mothers thanks to avoiding the cracked sidewalks of your childhood, here’s some more “news” for you to swallow:

About one-quarter of the BP oil that spilled out of its broken well remains in the Gulf, according to a report to be released Wednesday by scientists with the Interior Department and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Nearly three-quarters of the oil – more than 152 million gallons – has been collected at the well by a temporary containment cap, been cleaned up or chemically dispersed, or naturally deteriorated, evaporated or dissolved.

“It was captured. It was skimmed. It was burned. It was contained. Mother Nature did her part,” White House energy adviser Carol Browner said on NBC’s “Today” show.

“Captured, skimmed, burned, contained. One fish, two fish, dead fish, blue fish!” Mother Nature had nothing to do with this one.

Browner noticeably left out “dispersed.” Probably to avoid mentioning the toxic fairy dust they used to “disappear” all that oil. They don’t call it “Corexit” for nothing. Sounds so nice and tidy, doesn’t it? So what are we whining about? What we can’t see won’t kill us eventually. Right?

Meanwhile, back on the shore there are unemployed fishermen, some of whom still won’t or can’t sell fish from now “safe and open for fishing” waters. They don’t believe BP and the government’s safety claims either, They also know the oil isn’t out of sight:

Charter boat captain Randy Boggs, of Orange Beach, Ala., said Wednesday he has a hard time believing BP’s claims of success with the static kill and similarly dismissed the idea that only a quarter of the oil remains in the Gulf.

“There are still boats out there every day working, finding turtles with oil on them and seeing grass lines with oil in it,” said Boggs, 45. “Certainly all the oil isn’t accounted for. There are millions of pounds of tar balls and oil on the bottom.”

But I guess they wanted to get all these statements and declarations out there ahead of the next hurricane, because wow, would they have oil on their faces then. Whew!

So that’s it folks! Nothing to see here. The oil disaster in the Gulf is over. Solved. Gone. Just like that.

Please. Don’t insult my intelligence. Again.

Soon we’ll have no more fish to wrap in those full-page BP newspaper ads down here.

They’ll be COMPLETELY worthless.

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Well, that didn’t take long. 49 minutes. In the midst of one of the biggest oil spill disasters in history, that’s all it took for GOP leaders in Florida to tell voters who want to vote on an oil drilling ban near Florida shores: tough luck suckers! The vote to adjourn the special session without hearings or votes broke along party lines. 67-44.

In other words, it’s business a usual from the Republican Party Of Florida.

As predicted, the Florida GOP controlled legislature rejected Gov. Charlie Crist’s call for a constitutional amendment to ban near shore oil drilling in Florida. They also rejected, again, the will of Florida voters who want the chance to vote on the drilling ban.

A new poll shows that 71% are in favor of having the chance to vote. That doesn’t matter though. The Florida GOP leaders are more interested in sticking it to Charlie Crist and playing politics than they are with paying attention to what voters want even as oil washes up on Florida beaches and threatens the environment, tourism, the fishing industry and the very livelihood of its residents.

The failed session, a rarity in the usually scripted world of legislative politics, occurred 90 days after the BP oil well exploded  off the Louisiana coast, polluting the Gulf of Mexico and stretches of Florida Panhandle beaches. Oil drilling is banned in state law, but not in the constitution, which can only be changed by voters.

House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, blasted the governor for playing politics in calling lawmakers back to Tallahassee and said that legislators might entertain a drilling amendment next year for the 2012 ballot – in the “calm after the crisis.” Cretul also told lawmakers they’ll likely be back in September, in another special session, to address financial fallout from the BP spill.

In other words, they’ll wait until AFTER the race for the U.S. Senate seat Charlie Crist hopes to win in the upcoming election. (And then what?) They’ve complained that the special session was called for political reasons. Maybe so, but it’s clear just who is playing politics with this move. This hurts the state and the people the leaders claim to work for. “Maybe next year” plays into the same excuses the GOP is currently giving for doing anything: “This is not the time.” I can’t think of a better time actually, since the BP oil spill and resulting disaster are far from over.

Nope. Sadly the Republicans in Florida would rather play with people’s lives and gamble on so many risks to the state, all for the sake to a political stab in the back of a former party member who chose to reject the GOP. He certainly isn’t the first to do that. I think this guarantees there will be a lot more who will reject the Republican Party after this.

It’s time to vote them out.

Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.

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