Archive for the ‘Plug The Leak’ Category
Ed. Note: Times Picayune now reporting investigators from both BP and the Coast Guard have gone out to the well site and found nothing. BP plans to send a ROV down to the seafloor tonight to determine if the well is leaking. Also, tests on the oil sheen spotted by Press-Register reporters has come back as a match to the oil that spilled last year. So, according to USCG and BP, no oil today, but the oil yesterday is a match to the Macondo…I feel better?
Reporters from the Alabama Press Register were out on the water near the Macondo Well site to investigate reports, floating around for over a week now, about new oil sheens on the Gulf’s surface:
“The Press-Register reporters located the area where the oil was rising to the surface by going to a point directly over the Macondo well and then moving in the direction of the prevailing surface current. The first blobs of oil seen on the surface were detected about a half-mile from the well. The frequency of the sightings increased gradually over the next half-mile.
In the Olympic swimming pool-sized area where the oil was rising most frequently, new sheens were erupting every few seconds on all sides of the 36-foot boat.
Marcus Kennedy, who piloted his fishing boat, the Kwazar, 115 miles from Dauphin Island to the well site, said he was stunned by the heavy petroleum scent in the air. A nearby data buoy recorded winds of less than 2 mph at the time”
Now, reports differ on where this oil is coming from:
BP, of course, denies this has anything to do with the Macondo Well.
Phillip Johnson, a professor at the University of Alabama feels the oil is most likely residual, just oil leaking from the 5000 feet of riser pipe left on the sea floor or oil that had been trapped in various debris from the sunk platform that’s now worked its way free.
Ed Overton, an oil chemist, feels more investigation is needed, to find out what is going on, “There is no way to say for sure whether the well is leaking, based on what is on the surface,” he said. “Of course it is suspicious.”
The Coast Guard has determined the leakage is from natural seeps and permitted pollution releases at other drilling sites, but did not elaborate how this was determined, and said no boats had been out near the well location.
Robert Bea, professor emeritus at UC-Berkeley, after looking at photographs of the sheen said, “I think the primary source with high probability is associated with the Macondo well…perhaps connections that developed between the well annulus (outside the casing), the reservoir sands about 17,000 feet below the seafloor, and the natural seep fault features” could provide a pathway for oil to move from deep underground to the seafloor, Bea said.
Lot of opinions, lot of oil, lots of possible narratives…
What’s needed is the truth.
Perhaps along with that GCCF audit, US Attorney General Eric Holder might find an independent investigator to get ahead of this story now, find out what, if anything is going on in the Gulf, throw a wrench in the spin cycle and beat that dryer to hell. When the Deepwater Horizon went down 16 months ago, the information appeared immediately slanted to fit a damage control agenda, truth be damned…so much so the Justice Department is now investigating BP for faulty oil spill estimates.
Not that we are headed for a repeat, but it might be nice this time, to start any sort of response to these sheens from the basis of truth.
Where are the sheens coming from? Is it likely there will be more? Is it coming from the Macondo Well?
Is there something wrong with the seal, with the sea floor?
But I’d sure like to know…regardless of whatever anyone who might stand to lose public relations battles or profit thinks about it.
“Last week, in response to Internet postings by lawyers and environmental groups describing a leak, BP issued a blanket denial, stating, “None of this is true.””
A blanket denial from British Petroleum, with little to no explanation.
Even if they are right, a blanket denial is not good enough, not this time.
Read the article:
Have a nice day.
Ed Note: The USCG now taking a fresh look at pictures of the oil they previously denied was there.
Look, I’m not trying to play the role of conspiracy buff here, but if there is one thing any of us who follow the oil spill news knows, it is:
1. Truth takes a second place to narrative.
2. Order of response: deny everything, and if caught denying, then deny it again.
I think back to the arguments about flow rates, the toxicity of Corexit and whether it was still being used, about how much wildlife was being killed, the keeping of photographers and news people out of the spill zone, BP’s purchasing of scientists at universities, all the issues of transparency with the GCCF, the killing of cameras at the well head…etc…
It’s about the control of information, and with this control, the narrative can be manipulated in favor of BP, Feinberg, the government or whoever…whoever is paying the most to control said narrative.
So, keeping all that in mind, we come back to the question that Stuart Smith continues to investigate, what is going on at the Macondo Well? Is it leaking again? Is the sea floor rupturing?
Frankly, I sure as hell hope not, course my hopes are centered on the people and the environment of the region. I would imagine that BP really hopes not too, course…we know what their main concern is… Correct, the safety and welfare of adorable puppies and kittens worldwide, and especially in the Gulf. So, BP denies there is oil coming from the Macondo well site. BP denies they hired any boats to skim for oil. The Coast Guard (about as independent from BP as Feinberg) also denies the same things and so we can go back home now, get some rest, forget about it…
Yet, then we read:
And then, the next day we read:
And one starts to wonder…
Are we fighting another narrative war, all over again?
Because BP and the Coast Guard denying any oil is leaking from the site of the Deepwater Horizon is a familiar one, it’s what they maintained days after the oil rig exploded and sank, days before the oil began to flow, days before their narrative was exposed as a facade.
Hopefully, that won’t be the case…again.
Have a nice day.
More oil in the Gulf of Mexico…
British Petroleum says it is investigating a new sheen of oil, but did not say where they have found said sheen. Nor did they say what is causing said sheen.
What they did say is it wasn’t found near “any existing BP operations,” oh, and they added “there is a lot of sheen in the Gulf of Mexico area” and that it didn’t necessarily come from a BP (Macondo) well.
But remember back in July, that sheen confirmed to have been most definitely found in the vicinity of the Macondo Well?
Stuart Smith sure does:
“Oil from the Macondo Well site is fouling the Gulf anew – and BP is scrambling to contain both the crude and the PR nightmare that waits in the wings. Reliable sources tell us that BP has hired 40 boats from Venice to Grand Isle to lay boom around the Deepwater Horizon site – located just 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The fleet rushed to the scene late last week and worked through the weekend to contain what was becoming a massive slick at the site of the Macondo wellhead, which was officially “killed” back in September 2010.”
Smith goes onto quote a letter written by BK Lim, a prominent geohazards specialist for thirty years. This letter was sent to US Reps Fred Upton and John Shimkus:
“There is no question that the oil seepages, gas columns, fissures and blowout craters in the seafloor around the Macondo wellhead… have been the direct result of indiscriminate drilling, grouting, injection of dispersant and other undisclosed recover activities. As the rogue well had not been successfully cemented and plugged at the base of the well by the relief wells, unknown quantities of hydrocarbons are still leaking out from the reservoir at high pressure and are seeping through multiple fault lines to the seabed. It is not possible to cap this oil leakage.”
So, while British Petroleum is now being very careful to not say where the oil is, or where it may have come from, perhaps it’s the right time for someone to compel them to say exactly what the hell is going on…
Or are we going to have another war over flow-rate estimates, all over again?
Read the articles:
Have a nice day.
Ed Note…BP and a Coast Guard official now say “the sheen was found near two abandoned exploration well sites in the Green Canyon Block in the Gulf of Mexico. According to an online map by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Green Canyon Block – a large square-shaped area of water south of Louisiana – is south and west of the Mississippi Canyon Block where BP’s Macondo well blew up.”
So…let the debate continue: is it 500 barrels a day or 36,000?
Now, have a nice day.
Ed Note, Part 2…Daren Beaudo, BP’s latest spokesman says no oil is leaking from the Macondo well and he denies any vessels were hired to clean up anything, per the report by Stuart Smith…as far as the sheen, “We think it’s silt from a subsurface shallow water pool,” Beaudo said.
So…let the debate continue: is it 5000 barrels a day or 46,000?
That certainly is an answer.
Now, now, have a nice day.
Changing Course in the Gulf: Bad Lessons in Money and Politics Pt. 3 – The Obama Administration and Business as Usual
Over the past five months, Gulf Coast residents have been treated to a number of decisions with direct impact on their lives. They weren’t asked to give input at the time these decisions were made. They weren’t asked how they thought it might affect their future. The decisions occurred above their heads and most times, without their knowledge, but they are the ones now paying the price. This post is the third of three parts having to do with these decisions. Part one addressed British Petroleum’s use of the dispersant, Corexit while two took issue with Bobby Jindal, the Shaw Group and their sand berms. Part three will be concerned with the federal government’s response to the spill, including the amount of control ceded, and protection given to British Petroleum. All three will address the issue of the courage necessary to change course in the Gulf, the importance of doing so and who will be affected. All three decisions to be looked at had to do with money and politics, and changing course now will affect the back accounts and political standing of the people in charge, but change must happen.
What is going on in the Gulf of Mexico is not working.
On October 1st, Thad Allen, National Incident Commander will step down from his post, thus ending one of the biggest illusions of this whole oil spill, that the Obama administration was in charge of the response. For the past five months, the American public in general and Gulf Coast residents in particular have been held hostage by the dictates of a foreign corporation while the government’s two figureheads, Thad Allen and President Obama talked tough about responses and made threats against British Petroleum. We listened as the EPA gave orders that were either ignored or largely circumvented by the oil company and rubber stamped by Thad Allen. At times, the Coast Guard was even complicit in the unethical behavior of the company. We watched as the FDA declared the seafood to be safe. We watched as the NOAA released numbers indicating the oil was gone.
These actions by our government leads one to question whether they worked in the Gulf to protect the people, or to protect the oil company.
From the beginning, when the Deepwater Horizon exploded, the damage being caused was minimized. We were told that only 5000 barrels per day were leaking into the gulf when it turned out to be between 50 and 60,000. We were told that Corexit was safe as dish soap when it turns out that cleanup workers at the Exxon Valdez suffered health effects stemming from the mix of crude oil and the dispersant. In early August the NOAA released their oil spill numbers that claimed 79% of the oil was gone, trumpeted to early morning television shows when in fact, the oil report said the opposite, wasn’t supposed to be publicly released and had never been reviewed by the scientists they claimed helped to author the report. All over the Gulf Coast, British Petroleum had been denying reporters access to the Gulf, were hiring off duty police officers to keep the press away and in several occasions taking the footage shot by photographers of spilled oil and dying wildlife. Thad Allen initially denied these reports, but then released the much ballyhooed 60 yard boom rule where all reporters had to stay sixty yards from any boom due to fictional reports of the press disrupting cleanup activities. BP started buying up scientists and the government followed suit, for the stated reason of legal defense or prosecution, but with the intended purpose of silencing them and their findings. The EPA ordered BP to stop using Corexit as too toxic and ineffective. BP said no. The EPA backed down while the Coast Guard said BP could only use it when approved, and then they approved it every time they were asked. Most recently, independent scientists who are coming to radically difficult conclusions about the remaining oil, the safety of the water and seafood are being allegedly harassed by the federal oil spill commission.
All of this has led to a tremendous amount of doubt in the public, stuck trying to choose between the words of the oil company that fouled their waters, the government that has been caught repeatedly spinning information and the independent scientists who are questioned in the press by the oil company and the government.
This doubt, this confusion, it all works in favor of the parties who refuse to release their information, their data, their numbers and that would be BP and the Obama Administration, because as the independent scientists give out their facts and figures to prove why their findings are true: oil on the Gulf floor, shifting oil plumes, etc… confusion and spin is all the government has left. They need to keep the waters muddied so they can hold onto their numbers, desperately trying to maintain a claim over any sort of validity.
And all for obvious and not so obvious reasons as it will come as little surprise to anyone that good news in the Gulf of Mexico is good news for the Gulf’s politicians and this is even better news for the federal government as a whole. Like British Petroleum, the government wants to ease the Gulf and its problems from the collective American conscience or at the very least, believe that it is quickly on the mend. This is why despite the tough initial rhetoric from Barack Obama, the actions of the government continue to help the oil company.
The two are linked, financially and politically.
In fiscal year, 2009, British Petroleum was the top supplier of oil to the US military, receiving contracts in excess of $2.2 billion dollars. This year, they have received over $1.1 billion from seventeen different contracts with the DLA, (Defense Logistics Agency) and have even been awarded contracts since the Deepwater Horizon exploded. Mimi Schirmacher, a DLA spokesperson has gone on record saying the DLA has no plans to change these contracts or change the way they are awarded.
In the US, the retirement account pensions for 42 separate states hold shares in British Petroleum Stock and since the oil spill, they have been losing money, a lot of money. In June, well before BP’s stock had hit its lowest stock price mid-July, these pensions had already lost $1.4 billion dollars. This loss is in addition to the previous year’s loss which occurred due to the recession. British Petroleum’s recovery will get this money back so the federal government has a vested interest in ensuring that British Petroleum does not fail. This is why assets aren’t seized. This is why Obama’s tough rhetoric is empty. This is the oil company version of the bank’s “too big to fail.”
Blackrock corporation is the largest shareholder of British Petroleum stock and they have many links to the US government as well. During the banking crisis, they took over $130 billion dollars in toxic assets that the US government had assumed during the too big to fail banking crisis. Blackrock CEO, Larry Fink is oft considered the go-to guy for financial answers by the feds, consulted frequently and his company holds as money management clients the New York Fed, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. When British Petroleum loses money, Blackrock loses money and this cannot be considered good for the federal government.
Politically, the pressure is also on. Gulf Coast politicians like Bobby Jindal have been blasting away in the press at the Obama administration’s competency during the cleanup and his voice is only one of many across the Gulf Coast, from Texas to Florida…and just in case any of us forgot, elections are coming. Barack Obama needs good news. Good news means votes. Lack of progress means much criticism in states like Louisiana and Florida, states where the Democrats sometimes win elections. Open fisheries mean votes for congressional elections. FDA approval of seafood? Votes. EPA reports the air is safe, the water is safe and the people are safe? Votes. The NOAA says that 79% of the oil is gone? This progress is huge, this progress is a campaign advertisement.
Money and politics, politics and money…same – same.
And now we are finding out it isn’t just the residents in the Gulf who are paying attention to the Fed’s tricky balance.
So is British Petroleum.
If the government was as hard-lined as they want people to believe, British Petroleum would have been far less likely to demand more oil leases in the Gulf and then suggest the $20 billion escrow account for reparation would be in jeopardy without them. British Petroleum has done pretty much as it wished in the Gulf of Mexico from the beginning. They used prison labor to clean up beaches. There are many allegations cleanup workers didn’t have respirators. They used a more toxic and dangerous dispersant that helped submerge the oil, rather than remove it. They controlled the press. They controlled the story and the Obama administration let them do it all and in many occasions, assisted, thus leading to confusion, bad information and a loss of credibility.
This credibility is only one of the things that must change in the Gulf of Mexico.
As things stand now, the government’s numbers and estimates and projections have frequently been so far off base that it is difficult to readily accept much of what they say. For example, right now the US government is in possession of the damaged blow-out preventer from the Macondo Well. I find it difficult to believe that I am the only one who would question the results of their tests on the preventer, especially if it points the blame away from BP. The government has sewn this doubt over the past five months, and it is time for them to start on a new path, one that may be more painful, but at least it will be honest.
To restore this credibility, the government must release their science and explain their numbers. If they know that their number do not add up, then they need to admit that now; they need to admit their mistakes, in detail and maybe even apologize so this can all move forward. They must release the scientists to research what they wish, and have the funding of British Petroleum and the federal government to do it. Information and data right now are not the enemy; the enemies of justice and ethics in the Gulf of Mexico are those who withhold information to suit their own agendas.
The federal government must assume control of the cleanup.
British Petroleum has stated on several occasions that their company wouldn’t be using dispersants anymore, but their contractors, if they are, should stop. This is a typical loophole of the practices in the Gulf. If BP won’t guarantee their contractors have stopped, then it is time for BP to be stopped. Kick them to the sidelines and bill them for everything. The Obama administration needs to marry itself to this cleanup. No wiggle room, no fall guy, no we didn’t know’s. Own it, and then do it right.
Charge British Petroleum in criminal court.
Want to help ensure that nobody unleashes another catastraphuk like this again? Put those responsible in prison. Eleven men died out there, and many more indirectly by way of suicide, accident or what have you, put BP in prison. If all the investigations and court hearings result only in fines these companies can absorb or just pass onto the public in increased prices, no message has been learned. None. I believe that future CEO’s would be much more careful about the practices of their companies if in response to the greatest environmental disaster ever, the CEO and those responsible of said company didn’t just get transitioned to a new job in Russia that allows him to lose, nothing.
Free the information, now.
It’s okay Barack, we’re adults. We can take it. Tell us just how fucked up all this is now. Don’t spin, don’t distort, release the information and be honest, despite the political cost. It’s okay.
It’s not only the emperor who would appreciate being told about the new clothes.
So would your constituents.
Votes, or not.
Justice and dignity demand at least this much.
For five months we have watched all the events in the Gulf of Mexico: the dodges of responsibility, the fish kills, the oil, the false Feinbergian promises. We have watched the poisoning of an ecosystem and people in authority making decisions far over the heads of those affected directly by these decisions. In question is who rules the water, British Petroleum or the United States Government? The company our government does so much business with, or the officials we elect? We have watched the bullshit, we have experienced the doubt.
Obama, you ran on a campaign of hope.
So how about bringing some if it to the Gulf of Mexico, a place where it indeed is, time for change.
Have a nice day.
I remember one night many years ago, walking down Decatur Street in the Quarter as the darkness was coming on, challenging the streetlamps to do their best. It was a beautiful February evening, colder but not freezing and as I glanced in the river’s direction I smiled at the sight of a rolling fog bank, moving slow, silent and concealing. Stopping at the corner of the square, I watched it drift across Decatur, enveloping me, the statue of Andrew Jackson and I kept watching until it swallowed St. Louis Cathedral.
It was a kind of spooky, but in a pleasant way.
The fog in the Gulf of Mexico is less so.
During the hearings yesterday in Houston, set up to investigate the cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, it was more of the same. British Petroleum pointed the blame at Transocean. Transocean pointed the blame at British Petroleum, and nobody learned nothing, nobody knew nothing, never.
The investigator, US Coast Guard Captain Hung Nguyen expressed his frustration with all involved, “I just don’t see how everything gets coordinated,” Nguyen said. “International regulations identify one person in charge that is accountable for and responsible for the safe operation of the vessel…especially when we go into an emergency phase, it might be difficult to have an effective response.”
Harry Thierens, a London-based BP Vice President for drilling operations was on the stand and Nguyen asked him a series of questions: Is he aware that a lot of questions are being asked about who was in charge? Can you articulate any lessons learned from previous deadly oil refining and drilling disasters? Has BP done any exercises since April 20th to see how it would respond to a future blowout?
Thierens responded, “No,” “No,” and “I don’t know.” He did recall more fluidly that it is Transocean who was in charge of maintaining and configuring the equipment on the blowout preventer which would imply the blowout preventer’s failure to clamp down and seal the well was not the fault of British Petroleum.
Meanwhile, a Halliburton technical adviser Jesse Gagliano was blaming British Petroleum, testifying he told BP officials that their well design would raise the risk for gas to reach the surface, which is ultimately what happened and lead to the explosion. BP’s lawyer challenged Gagliano, questioning why he would sign off on a plan he was so concerned about to which Gagliano responded that his signing off on the plan wasn’t meant as an endorsement.
After more exchanges of this sort with several others associated with the doomed rig, Nguyen finally said, “Somebody’s got to be in charge here, I just don’t have a clear picture in my mind of who it is here.”
Me neither, then, or now…and here we are in the Gulf Coast:
The Gulf’s waters are forever fucked. No they’re not. The seafood is unsafe except it isn’t. The oil plumes are there and they are huge except that a brand new microbe is eating them, unless the science is faulty and the plumes moved with the current. Corexit is a poison they have stopped using except it’s no more harmful than dish soap and at night, mercenaries are pouring it over the oil that isn’t there, except that the oil is. The top kill worked except it didn’t. The static kill worked, kind of. The relief wells may not be necessary except they are. The marshes are being destroyed except for where they are recovering and the government says the Gulf of Mexico is recovering well, but there is still much more to do while BP pulls back on the cleanup because the oil slicks have all but disappeared from the water’s surface; it’s now under the sand of the beaches and breaker islands, except its not there either. Bobby Jindal builds sand berms to hold back oil that isn’t contaminating seafood that isn’t dying off in mass fish kills that may or may not be caused by the spill’s effect on oxygen levels in the water, oxygen levels that might be depleted, or not. British Petroleum denies the leaks in the sea floor, calling it natural seepage from leaks they say aren’t there or if they are, certainly were not caused by anything they might or might not have done and didn’t you know, a giant methane bubble is preparing to erupt from below the sea floor that will kill us all? A study says dispersants are speeding up the bio-accumulation of oil in wildlife that according to the NOAA isn’t happening and the government oil spill numbers that have been approved by independent scientists were never actually approved by independent scientists. The EPA says the water and atmosphere are safe except for the whistleblower from the EPA who says the water and air aren’t safe, but everything is okay now because Tony Hayward is no longer CEO of British Petroleum. Transocean says they can’t complete their own internal investigations because BP won’t turn over evidence they need and British Petroleum denies this, saying they have been in in full compliance with the government’s investigations where some of their employees take the fifth amendment and in the middle of the night, whales are being secreted to Mexico so nobody can watch them die. The EPA tells BP to stop using Corexist and find alternatives while the Coast Guard say they approved it. Cleanup workers are getting sick from exposure to the oil because British Petroleum didn’t give them the respirators that British Petroleum gave them to wear so they wouldn’t get sick from the oil. The government has a methodology to explain their oil spill numbers that you can’t see: the methodology or the oil that is still washing up on the beaches. British Petroleum’s cost cutting might have caused the Deepwater Horizon to explode, if it weren’t for Transocean rigging the blowout preventer wrong and Halliburton incorrectly pouring the cement and apparently somebody was in charge of the rig but since this could get expensive, nobody is sure who is in charge and nobody knows anything about nothing, never.
And nobody will give their complete information to anybody else.
This is somewhat of a farce, and seems to work in the favor of those who have the money and are trying their best to keep it, for as long as possible, except they’re not trying to keep their money, instead being responsible for what they might or might not have done…just maybe, at some time.
Oh for fuck’s sakes.
Perhaps, a return to basics.
When it comes to the Deepwater Horizon and the aftermath across the Gulf of Mexico…
1. 11 men died in the explosion.
2. Someone at BP, Halliburton or Transocean is lying and maybe all three.
3. The water in the Gulf of Mexico ain’t as clean as it used to be.
4. People are suffering.
And back in New Orleans, that night in the fog after watching it swallow the old church, I got moving again, heading to the Hideout, a now defunct bar enjoyed for cheap drinks, dark lighting and the inevitable fight to watch. That night, I had the good fortune to know I would be meeting friends, I would be coming out of the Mississippi’s blanket to relax, talking and laughing with a few trusted people.
In the Gulf’s fog, however…there are few friends amongst both those responsible and the government entities trying to reassure that eventually, everyone will be okay.
Instead, it would seem they are the guys in the shadows up closer to Esplanade, waiting for you to get a little too drunk and a little too unaware, waiting for the NOPD to be nowhere in sight.
Read the articles,
Have a nice day.