Disenfranchised Citizen

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Posts Tagged ‘Anadarko

Pots, kettles and oil, all black…

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In the latest from the MDL litigation, Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon, alleged that their contract with British Petroleum, the leaseholder of the Macondo Well, had indemnified them against any liabilities for pollution underneath the surface of the Gulf, and also against any civil penalties under the Clean Water Act or punitive damages from being declared grossly negligent. British Petroleum, of course asserted otherwise, as did the US Department of Justice.

Well, yesterday Judge Barbier issued his rulings. He decided the contract did indeed clear Transocean from those damage claims occurring below the surface of the water, it is British Petroleum who will be the responsible party for pollution damages from the 4.9 million barrels that leaked directly from the Macondo Well. Barbier also ruled the contract did not shield Transocean from any liability for punitive damages should their company be declared grossly negligent, nor did it indemnify them from any potential civil penalties under the Clean Water Act.  

Transocean, of course, declared this ruling a victory, “This confirms that BP is responsible for all economic damages caused by the oil that leaked from its Macondo well, and discredits BP’s ongoing attempts to evade both its contractual and financial obligations. Transocean is pleased to see its position affirmed, consistent with the law and the long-established model for allocating risks in the offshore oil and gas industry…”

This only makes sense.

You see, BP was trying to skirt their responsibilities under the law and Barbier set them straight.

British Petroleum also felt themselves to be quite victorious, “Today’s ruling makes clear that contractors will be held accountable for their actions under the law. While all official investigations have concluded that Transocean played a causal role in the accident, the contractor has long contended it is fully indemnified by BP for the liabilities resulting from the oil spill. The Court rejected this view…”

This too only makes sense.

You see, Transocean was trying to skirt their responsibilities under the the law and Barbier set them straight.

And with spin factories so readily engaged, victory toasts were had all around.

Executives clapped lawyers on backs and lawyers hit speed dials to their favorite banking institutions to check account balances.

And with all these companies claiming all these victories over all these decisions, when the dust settled and the cheering finally dissipated into idle conversations about Super Bowls and stock options, it was almost kind of easy to forget that when it comes to this catastraphuk that unleashed 4.9 million barrels of oil after an explosion that killed eleven people, just how there really were no victories to be had here…

When it comes to the worst environmental disaster to hit the United States, British Petroleum had a hand in it, and so did Transocean, and for that matter so did Anardarko and Halliburton…and no matter how Barbier ruled yesterday, not one person from any of these companies has yet to spend a day in jail.

So yeah…Transocean claims victory. British Petroleum claims victory. Transocean calls British Petroleum liable and vice versa, yet eleven people are still dead while thousands of others still wait to be made whole, and all cheering aside, that’s something someone should be liable for…criminally.

Read the article:

Judge says Transocean will be shielded from paying pollution claims

Have a nice day.

Everybody to blame, but me…

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How could they make it any more clear, I mean...who the hell is this O'Rourke guy? I wouldn't hire him either...

So, in determining guilt and any possible fines under the Clean Water Act, welcome to another day in court, another episode of the 3 Stooges, starring  BP, Transocean and Anadarko…Please, follow along and keep in mind that of course, no one is to blame except for everybody else.

Duh…

First, allow me to introduce Department of Justice Senior Attorney Steven O’Rourke who explained how simple this all should be under the Clean Water Act – “Any person who is the owner, operator, or person in charge of any vessel … or offshore facility from which oil is discharged” will face Clean Water Act fines.

Okay, so British Petroleum is part owner of the lease to the well, and operator of the Deepwater Horizon, Anadarko is also part owner of the lease while Transocean owns the rig.

And, O’Rourke continued, “Each defendant admits that the oil came out of the well through the blowout preventer riser and was discharged into the Gulf of Mexico. They’ve admitted they were owners and they’ve admitted the discharge from the well.”

Well, that was easy enough…all three, guilty as fuck – so moving on to the amount of the fines…

Uh…what? Not that easy? Who says its not that easy?

Oh right…

The lawyers…

David Salmons, lawyer for Anadarko said no way, man…Anadarko can’t be held liable because they are part owner of the well and the oil, it discharged from the Deepwater Horizon and since they had no control over operations onthe rig, and since the oil can’t come from both the vessel and the well, it obviously came only from the vessel.

Not guilty!

Andrew Langan, lawyer for British Petroleum said no way, man…the oil couldn’t have come from both the well and the vessel, we agree with Anadarko about that and the oil, it definitely came from the vessel and Transocean owns all that shit.

Not guilty!

Kerry Miller, lawyer for Transocean said no way, man…they are only liable for the oil that made it to the surface and all that subsea oil, you know, almost all of the oil unleashed into the Gulf…it all belonged to both British Petroleum and Anadarko who leased the well, so send them the bill, not us.

Not guilty!

And there you have it…4.9 million gallons of oil discharged into the Gulf of Mexico and the only person anyone can say for sure did it, was anyone else but me.

But wait, Mr. O”Rourke then decided to try again, do his best to summarize it for the Judge: “Transocean is saying it came from the well so BP and Anadarko are liable; Anadarko and BP are saying it came from the vessel so Transocean is liable. The government says all of them are correct. They’re all liable.”

Sigh…

I know!

It’s like he didn’t hear a single thing the other lawyers said at all…

No wonder he works for the government, obviously way too dim to work for any of these plaintiffs.

Read the article:

Gulf Oil Spill Could Bring Up to $20B in Fines

Have a nice day.

I have a sneaking suspicion…

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Woah...BP did it...almost got that one past me...

…that this whole Deepwater Horizon thing, the oil spill? Yeah, I think British Petroleum’s to blame.

Could be due to the testimony of their own employees:

“BP petrophysicist Galina Skripnikova in a closed-door deposition two months ago told attorneys involved in the oil spill litigation that there appeared to be a zone of gas more than 300 feet above where BP told its contractors and regulators with the then-Minerals Management Service the shallowest zone was located. The depth of the oil and gas is a critical parameter in drilling because it determines how much cement a company needs to pump to adequately seal a well. Federal regulations require the top of the cement to be 500 feet above the shallowest zone holding hydrocarbons, meaning BP’s cement job was potentially well below where it should have been.”

Or maybe it was due to the report released yesterday by the Joint Investigative Team of the Federal Bureau of Ocean Management, Regulation and Enforcement and the US Coast Guard which states:

“BP’s failure to fully assess the risks associated with a number of operational decisions leading up to the blowout was a contributing cause of the Macondo blowout,” and “BP’s cost- or time-saving decisions without considering contingencies and mitigation were contributing causes of the Macondo blowout.” The report notes that “at the time of the blowout, operations at Macondo were significantly behind schedule” and more than $58 million over budget.”

In any case…what concerns this writer most is whether or not British Petroleum’s actions will fall into the categories of “gross negligence” and “willful misconduct.” Simply put, the basic fine under the Clean Water Act is $1100 dollars per barrel spilled, but if the company doing the spilling is found to be “grossly negligent” that fine jumps to $4300 dollars per barrel and at a government estimate of 4.9 billion barrels, that’s a big difference in price.

And considering the joint report, it would certainly appear what many have suspected all along, British Petroleum, in a rush for profits, put at risk the safety of its own workers, the entire environment of the Gulf and all those who live along it and beyond.

But did BP’s decisions reach the level of being grossly negligent?

According to the New York Times:

“The report concluded that BP, as the well’s owner, was ultimately responsible for the accident.”

BP was ultimately responsible, that’s pretty damning, especially when one considers one of the best ways to dispute a claim of gross negligence is to spread the blame around as much as possible…which is why it is of little surprise British Petroleum’s response to the report is the following:

“BP agrees with the report’s core conclusion — consistent with every other official investigation — that the Deepwater Horizon accident was the result of multiple causes, involving multiple parties, including Transocean and Halliburton,” the company said. It added that it had taken steps to improve its safety practices and strengthen oversight of its contractors.”

Improving its safety practices…

Because Prudhoe Bay and Texas City weren’t enough of an indication something was very wrong…nope, needed the Deepwater Horizon for them to finally get it, or say they got it, again…

Make them pay.

They’re still picking up tar balls on Gulf Coast beaches, what…17 months later?

Have a nice day.

Here come the lawyers…a day in Judge Barbier’s court…

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Making things right...one attorney at a time...

Okay, so first we acknowledge the obvious:

Lawyers being lawyers, and British Petroleum having long since given up that whole “making things right,” and “actions, not words” schtick – at least in reality – of course BP is going to try to use every legal maneuver to pay as little as possible to anyone. Their company’s in trouble now that the Rosneft deal looks blown so yeah, that whole Gulf Coast thing…it’s one big financial/legal liability and since the media interest flags, it’s time for corporate law to rear the ugliest of heads to take the biggest bite they can…

So stated, let’s move on to the latest from British Petroleum’s attorneys in Judge Carl Barbier’s court, shall we?

Turns out (surprise) British Petroleum is of the legal opinion that the claims for economic and punitive damages as a result of their little ‘ol spill, including those who lost jobs/wages as a result of the drilling moratorium, including those first responders who got sick during the cleanup, including basically…everybody, should be summarily dismissed by Judge Barbier.

Oh…but why?

Because these people must go through Feinberg’s GCCF claims process, first.

Oh…but why?

That pesky Oil Pollution Act of 1990, that’s why. Andrew Langer, BP’s head legal talking head argues that OPA states claimants must first attempt to redress their grievances with the responsible party – BP, and if they are then denied by the responsible party, only then can they file a claim in court. Langer also claims the Oil Pollution Act supersedes maritime law, and since OPA doesn’t allow for the punitive damages allowed under maritime law, these claims must be dismissed as well.

Dismissed, just like that…upwards of 130,000 legal claims.

Judge Barbier gave no timeline on when he would rule on the matter, but perhaps Feinberg now should really want to hold off on closing all those GCCF claims offices, you know, just in case.

BP’s desire isn’t surprising, it makes sense they would want these people to go through the GCCF. Much as the oil company would like to control a United States court of law, they don’t, but the GCCF and Feinberg are a different matter. There they hold much more sway. Hell, their guy wrote the rules, the same man Judge Barbier already ruled can’t claim himself as independent of BP. Good ‘ol Ken, the lawyer whose law firm is paid $1.25 million dollars a month by BP. Way back when, the GCCF and Feinberg’s stated mission was to keep people out of court, but this didn’t entirely happen, especially when his “generous” payments turned out to not be so generous after all. So now British Petroleum argues Judge Barbier should rule in their favor and complete Feinberg’s mission for them, kick the claimants into BP’s court, where they can be delayed, stalled, and hopefully, so frustrated that some throw up their hands and take Feinberg’s “generous” claims instead of heading back into court to be delayed, stalled and frustrated anew by BP’s lawyers.

From a legal standpoint, it makes sense. What does British Petroleum really have to lose? Self respect? The goodwill of the Gulf Coast? Well, self-respect and goodwill ain’t worth a dime and this whole mess has appeared to be about the money for this company since day one. 

The plaintiffs’ attorneys, of course, disagree with BP, arguing OPA was created after the 1989 Exxon-Valdez spill because legal remedies available at the time were insufficient. They further argue the companies involved in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon shouldn’t be able to now use OPA as a legal shield to escape punitive damages and throw these legal claims into the GCCF mess. Besides, the oil pollution act of 1990 doesn’t expressly declare an intent to displace maritime law, whereas other statutes that prevent punitive damages do specifically prohibit them.

Judge Barbier, who questioned both sides’ arguments, asked how it is he is supposed to go through the 130,000 cases to determine which should be thrown out and which should be allowed to proceed. Nobody seemed to have an answer on this, beyond saying such a process will be exceedingly time-consuming.

Even more so pehaps, then the GCCF’s claim process.

But British Petroleum wasn’t the only company to get in on this four-hour hearing, and all involved had an argument on why these pesky economic claims should be dismissed. Represented in court were Anadarko, Halliburton, Cameron International and Transocean. Transocean argued that since BP is the responsible party, economic claims should only be made against BP under OPA, and then it would be BP’s right to go after the other companies to pay their share. You see, the people have filed suit against the wrong companies in the wrong order.

In other words, much like Feinberg’s screaming about unsatisfactory documentation, all of the big companies on the hook here are claiming the businesses and the people of the Gulf Coast are doing it wrong, not adhering to the correct process, not filing suit against the right company, not going through the GCCF process first, where they would inevitably be unable to document their claims in the correct way.

Or in other, other words…the claimants, the victims in this colossal fuck-all, the right thing for them to do would be to do as they are told, hurry up and wait, and go back to a GCCF process many consider long since broken.

All unless Judge Barbier, much like finally declaring Feinberg not independent, sides again on behalf of the people so harmed by this disaster, a catastraphuk not of their own creation.

Oh, but that’s not all, there’s more…

On the drilling moratorium: BP also asked for a dismissal of the claims by people who lost jobs/wages as a result of the drilling moratorium, saying it was the government who declared the moratorium, not BP, so why are they at fault? According to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, the moratorium was something the government would reasonable feel was necessary when they realized, hey, those oil rigs aren’t as safe as we ignored/were led to believe and you know what? We don’t have the resources to fight off these kind of spills so we better do a safety check. The plantiffs’ attorneys are also guessing the moratorium wouldn’t have happened had the Deepwater Horizon not exploded and since, under OPA, BP is the responsible party…well…they should be liable because one plus one usually equals two.

Unless you’re watching the latest “making it right,” advertisement by British Petroleum.

Attorneys for Nalco were also in court, the makers of Corexit dispersant and they argued they should have immunity from damage claims by people who got sick inhaling their toxins because the Federal government was in charge of the response, and it was the federal government who chose to use Corexit, “This was a spill of national significance, which put all of the decision-making in the hands of the federal government,” said their attorney.

One might wonder if this attorney is referring to the same government whose EPA expressly ordered British Petroleum to stop using Corexit dispersant, only to have BP refuse…somehow equating BP’s ability to do as they wished throughout the spill response with the ability of the government to be in charge of all the decision-making. 

There’s also the matter of all the private contractors who claim they deserve immunity too because they were doing cleanup under the same fully authoritative decision-making of the same federal government who had everyone listening intently on that whole Corexit deal. The plaintiffs’ attorneys in this case rightfully argued said contractors weren’t working for the government, they were hired by and working for BP and thus, why should they have immunity?

The entire hearing lasted a total of four hours and there’s more, but damn, my fingers are getting tired so perhaps I should just try wrapping this up:

British Petroleum, Transocean, Anadarko, Cameron International, Nalco…dismiss everything so we can better direct our funds to making things right for the Gulf Coast…

Residents and businesses of the Gulf Coast…get out of their way, you’re doing it wrong so go talk to Feinberg and he’ll tell you in no uncertain terms just how wrong you all are, while he painstakingly helps you to move on, being the loyal neutral arbitrator that he is…

The lawyers? Well, they’re busy being lawyers…

But most importantly, Judge Barbier, it’s up to you now and I for one, hope your ruling continues the process of finally making things right for all the people along the Gulf Coast that British Petroleum has made so wrong.

Read the article:

Defendants in oil spill litigation seek to have groups of claims dismissed

Have a nice day.

The Prestige Study…Why Feinberg Should Drop the “No Sue” Clause for Final Payments

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Reconsider what?

Is Feinberg reconsidering the no-sue clause?

Perhaps so, and maybe because of new information such as this:

In the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, a new study reveals the longer term health effects for cleanup workers exposed to spilled oil when the tanker Prestige sank off the coast of Spain. What it shows is the risks to human health go far beyond the damage of immediate exposure, and often leads to risk factors for later negative health developments.

The effects were measured two years after the spill, and they include:

- Wheezing, chronic cough and other respiratory symptoms.

- Higher levels of chemicals associated with lung damage.

- Higher rates of chromosome changes in white blood cells, changes that in other studies are linked to increased risk of cancer.

There are certainly differences between the Prestige Spill and BP’s catastraphuk: different types of crude oil, water temperatures and in Spain, the oil spilled directly on the surface whereas in the Gulf of Mexico, the oil had to rise through a mile of the Gulf’s waters. That being said, the spill in the Gulf was significantly larger and has the extra added effect of two million gallons of dispersants, chemicals also suspected of causing respiratory symptoms. David Savitz, a co-author of the editorial accompanying the Prestige study comments about the Gulf, “We can’t assume it’s going to be the same here as it was there…but this shows that there is the potential for health effects that go far beyond immediate exposure.”

And that is the concern, both for the health of the 50,000 Gulf Coast cleanup workers and the “no sue” clause in Kenneth Feinberg’s arbitration plans.

The final effects of the oil and Corexit’s toxicity in this particular spill are unknown yet Gulf Coast residents, if the terms of the final payout remain unchanged, will soon have to make a large, uninformed choice.

They can accept the final payout and hope all is well with the health of their family.

They can reject the final payout and take their chances in court.

As the Prestige study shows, the potential health effects may not be known for years to come so it seems both immoral and unfair for people in the Gulf to have to face down the potential for huge medical bills as a result of this Catastraphuk, a turn of events that was not of their making, by a company who promised to make everyone whole again.

And maybe, they may not have to make this choice at all.

It would seem Feinberg is now giving himself some wiggle room, much to the suspected disapproval of British Petroleum. He stated in a recent article: “The question of whether or not a final payment will require a claimant to release one defendant, BP, or all defendants, has not yet been resolved by me.” If Feinberg is indeed reconsidering the rules, this would certainly be a positive development for Gulf Coast residents, not only could BP still potentially be held liable, but so could Transocean Ltd. who owns the Deepwater Horizon rig and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which owns a 25% stake in the well.

BP spokesman Daren Beaudo said in an e-mailed statement, “BP believes that any settlement should be a full and final settlement.”

For the sake of thousands in the Gulf Coast, hopefully Mr. Beaudo is wrong and Feinberg will change his mind.

To close off financial compensation within a year, while the speed of the payments is appreciated, could leave many residents floundering later, long after the money is gone, long after the country has forgotten and long after BP has finally succeeded in washing its hands clean in all that oiled surf washing ashore in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

I would also hope that officials in these four states are attempting to sway Feinberg. If the rules remain in their current form, it is these four states that will end up paying the costs should their citizens’ health begin to fail, not British Petroleum, not Anadarko or Transocean.

You know…the companies responsible for unleashing this monster on all involved in the first place.

Read the articles:

Oil-cleanup workers may face lung trouble

Feinberg Says Spill Victims May Be Able to Sue Some Companies

Have a nice day.

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