Posts Tagged ‘Transocean’
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.
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Have a nice day.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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When Ken Feinberg took over administration of BP’s $20 billion dollar fund, he stated many, many times one of his primary objectives was to keep people out of the court system…ahhhh yes, do you remember those halcyon days, back when the Macondo well had just been capped, when hope was beginning to spring eternal and Feinberg dove into the scene, promising claims offers bigger than any the court would ever consider?
It seemed in those days the only way a claimant could screw it up would be to commit the ultimate blasphemy…filing the lawsuit. And why do that?
No need, just fill out your paperwork, get to planning, get to fixing up your boats and cleaning and soon…you and the banks would be all good…
Feinberg was here, the overseer of your oil spill lottery! Lawsuits were for posers!
The second spill hit the Gulf Coast, the paper one created by creditors and banks issuing warnings, letters of non-payment, demands for their money, the money Feinberg wasn’t giving out because he was demanding more paperwork, more documentation, more, more, more and…denied!
Or maybe you took the quick pay, just to be done with the bastards…
Let it begin or should I say, continue…off to the courts!
“More than 100 people and businesses have filed a new lawsuit against BP, saying the company’s Gulf oil spill damaged their livelihoods. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New Orleans on behalf of 122 plaintiffs, most from Terrebonne Parish. Since the Claims Facility was set up, there have been constant complaints from claimants of lost paperwork, slow processing times and low-ball payments…and creditors and banks have been demanding money fishermen and others haven’t been able to pay.
“Kenneth Feinberg does not want to pay for future damages,” Hutchinson (plaintiff attorney) said. “If you’re a fisherman who lost his entire income in 2010, it’s difficult to settle your claim for $25,000. It’s an insult.””
Hmm…I suppose whether it was an insult would depend completely on perspective…from what I keep reading, British Petroleum is back in the black, Ken Feinberg is raking in the money and even Nalco, makers of Corexit are doing pretty damned good…in fact, it would seem all the companies involved in damaging lives throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida are doing just fine indeed…even Halliburton?
Maybe Feinberg has had a secret agenda all along.
Maybe he realized early on how he’d be unable to keep as many from the court system as he wanted, as his bosses at BP hoped…in fact, wait a minute, maybe Ken Feinberg has been a secret spy, a double agent from the get-go… maybe he figured along with making a ton of money for himself, he could finally do something about unemployment along the Gulf Coast…that harsh unemployment rate for lawyers.
Well, well, well…birds of a feather…
In any case, here’s betting Hutchinson won’t be the last attorney to file suit against BP as a result of Feinberg’s system…the GCCF’s meager payouts and problematic lack of transparency almost ensure it.
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Okay…so riddle me this Batman:
In August, fresh oil slicks are discovered near the Macondo well site. BP denies they are there. The Coast Guard denies they are there. Bonnie Shumaker, pilot for Wings of Care flies out and takes pictures, proving the oil is there. BP then admits the oil is there as does the Coast Guard, after confirming BP admitted it too, but both say the oil is not from the Macondo reservoir. Then reporters from the Alabama Press Register take a boat out to the slicks, take samples, have it tested and sure enough, it is from the Macondo reservoir.
BP responds to this by sending an ROV down to look at the well-head. They don’t release the video, but they assure everyone still paying attention the well-head isn’t leaking, nope…not at all…it must be residual oil being released from the collapsed pipes and equipment on the seafloor. In response, Transocean sends an ROV down to check the collapsed pipes and equipment and says…nope, no oil leaking from there.
And this month, BP denies they are still checking into this oil. Then a pilot flies over, and confirms several large oil-related vessels operating at the surface above the Macondo well. BP says…oh, those ships, and yes, they then confirm they are conducting a study to track the oil from seabed to surface.
Track what from where?
In an emailed statement late Friday, a representative from BP verified that several vessels are in the vicinity of the Macondo well: “There are several vessels there participating in a study of natural oil seeps. This study has been ongoing for the past month or so. Data continues being collected and we provided an update on the natural oil seeps at the SETAC [Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry] conference in Boston this week. … The study is documenting the specific locations of these seeps and is seeking to track oil flow from seabed to surface,” BP wrote.
Natural oil seeps?
To which Stuart Smith, a New Orleans attorney replies:
If there are seeps in the area, they are not natural. I can assure you of that. BP was required to conduct a seafloor survey prior to applying for a permit to drill. If these seeps were not discovered during the survey – which they apparently weren’t – they must be related to the disaster and the heavy-handed methods used to attempt to seal the well.
To which BP quickly responds:
When we used the word “natural,” we meant it in the way that plastic surgery is meant to “naturally” erase the effects of aging, a bit of botox, a brow-lift, a cheekbone implant, a face-lift, a slight ear raise, and then the smallest of nose jobs…and voila! The seafloor is naturally leaking oil, natural as a smile from Jack Nicholson’s Joker…
Or in other words…
Robin: “Natural” is to nature, like animals are in nature and animals have fat…and this fat can be used to make soap and when we use soap, we typically are trying to remove dirt from our skin and what is skin but a part of the human body which is composed of 70% water, water like what’s found in the Gulf of Mexico…and all that Gulf water is above the seafloor…the seafloor! So what does it mean, Batman?”
Batman: “Obviously Boy Wonder, it means we need to have done what Stuart Smith suggests…a full survey of the seafloor around the Macondo Well so we will finally know what the hell is going on down there…”
Drake: “Seriously, how many times does BP get to creatively tell the truth?”
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In two developments this past week, British Petroleum officially welcomed the Coast Guard and the Federal Government to their party that history forgot. Behind the ivy covered walls, steel doors and security guards of BP headquarters, Bob Dudley toasted Coast Guard Captain, Julia Heim and BOEMRE head, Michael Bromwich, celebrating a rousing relapse of maritime irresponsibility and forgetfulness. Toast completed, Bob turned on the tequila fountain, shaped like a deepwater oil rig, and they all took an extra shot for luck…
Whereupon a few Gulf Coast journalists decided to go and wreck the party by writing a few editorials to ask Julia and Michael…um, what the hell, remember the whole oil spill, corporate irresponsibility thing?
Julia and Michael, you remember all that, right?
Well, apparently Julia, the Coast Guard Captain, doesn’t remember shit because while the Coast Guard signed an agreement with BP, transitioning the clean-up portion of the response towards one of coastal recovery, she seemed to forget a few very important details. Not only does the agreement allow BP to pretty much weasel their way out of any more clean-up and its accompanying costs, she forgot to specify any long-term monitoring of the Gulf Coast. Captain Hein also left out any part where BP continues to pay for aerial monitoring of the Macondo well site.
Yeah, bang-up job, Ms. Hein.
So, all this means that if/when oil comes into the Louisiana wetlands and marshes it will now be up to the public to discover and report it. Then, the state will have to prove it is actually BP oil, which as the oil degrades will become increasingly impossible to do, which in turn will leave the state on the line to pay for the clean-up. When Tropical Storm Lee hit on Labor Day and dumped tar mats, tar balls and other assorted tar products…BP’s clean-up was very slow and when the next storm hits, it will be even slower, or not come at all…thanks to the Coast Guard and their bullshit agreement. Not to mention all those oil slicks they kept discovering this fall by the Macondo Well. Remember? BP and the Coast Guard denied the slicks even existed, until they were photographed by a non-profit group. Then they denied the slicks were in the vicinity of the Macondo site, until it was shown they were, and finally, they then denied the oil actually came from the Macondo well until journalists had tests run, proving them wrong for a third time.
Now, any more monitoring is on the state dime.
Garret Graves, chairman of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority said of the Coast Guard’s relationship with BP, it’s ”like they’re a victim of Stockholm Syndrome,” referring to a phenomenon in which hostages become sympathetic to their captors, but I disagree. The Coast Guard never seemed like a hostage at all, more of a willing participant or co-conspirator in this agreement, one which Louisiana representatives refused to sign, a fact Julia and the Coast Guard simply ignored, going ahead with the agreement regardless. No, that ain’t a hostage, that’s someone with an open invite to party with Bob.
Which brings us to the other party guest, Mr. Michael Bromwich…
This individual currently runs what was formerly the MMS, that lovely regulatory agency that was doing blow and hookers with the oil company reps they were supposed to be monitoring. No wonder the Deepwater Horizon blew up, hard to see a design flaw in the specs when the design prints are on a table covered with empty beer cans. Now, as we all know, the MMS is the BOEMRE, a much more catchy acronym that stands for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, and with this new moniker came a brand new seriousness about safety, or so we’ve all been told, but then they go and release to the public a draft called the “Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.” The point of the BOEMRE’S OCSOGPEIS is to analyze and weigh the “environmental implications of continued drilling in federal waters between 2012 and 2017,” also, ”the economic analysis associated with the new impact statement projects the potential for future spills and the damage they might cause based on all “spills from 1964-2010 excluding the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon (DWH) event.””
So, when this agency estimated environmental impacts and possibilities of a spill by analyzing data from the past, they decided to leave out the economic and environmental impacts of the biggest oil spill in United States history?
Why, because it screwed up the curve?
Believe it or not…that’s precisely why. From the report and accompanying article, “If a more recent period is chosen (1990-2009)” for the risk analysis. For instance, using only the 19 years prior to the BP spill in the environmental analysis, the report concludes, this would further “decrease the anticipated environmental costs” of continued drilling.”
You see, if we just kind of leave out the whole millions of barrels spilled, millions of gallons of Corexit dispersant dumped, eleven people dead thing from last summer, well then, deepwater drilling not only looks more economically beneficial but damnit, wouldn’t you know it is environmentally sound, too? Really, no fooling.
Course another take on it could be: “By omitting the nation’s largest environmental disaster from its calculation of the environmental costs of drilling, BOEMRE continues to bury its head in the sand and pretend that the Deepwater Horizon accident never happened,” Catherine Wannamaker, with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said in an emailed statement. Wannamaker said that even low-probability events such as the Deepwater Horizon blowout must be included when looking at the economic and environmental costs of offshore drilling, “BOEMRE tries to move forward without truly accounting for these risks and costs,” Wannamaker said. “This is not a responsible course of action for a supposedly reformed agency.”
How much you wanna bet Ms. Wannamaker never gets invited to any of Bob’s parties.
Well, she wouldn’t be the only one because it sure seems these get togethers are not meant for you and I, especially if we have a vested interest in not only ensuring BOEMRE fulfills its responsibilities by monitoring the oil companies and all of these wells, but also that British Petroleum is not allowed to walk away from their responsibilities in the Gulf as they seem hell-bent on doing, with the complicity of BOEMRE, the Coast Guard and the Obama Administration.
Remember back when the oil spill first happened? Congress was truly up in arms and they promised to regulate this, enforce that, do whatever they had to do to ensure a preventable tragedy such as the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon could never happen again…so they declared, promised, wrote out in blood, but when push came to shove, Congress passed nothing. Well, the Coast Guard’s bullshit agreement and BOEMRES skewed numbers are just more of this same pattern. Both agencies like to talk about the unlikelihood of such catastrophic events. Yeah, that’s great and all, this ongoing unlikelihood…but it sure as hell don’t keep the coast safe and it didn’t keep those eleven men on the Deepwater Horizon alive.
What the Gulf Coast and this entire country needs, right now, is for the government to finally step up and proceed with true regulation and actual enforcement of industry, because if there’s one thing we know, they sure as hell aren’t going to do it themselves.
Have a nice day.
Bob Dudley announced Monday that British Petroleum had come to terms with Anadarko, which has agreed to give up its 25% stake in the Macondo Well and pay British Petroleum $4 billion dollars as its share of damage claims and cleanup costs.
“I am very pleased that they stepped in and are now shouldering some of the responsibilities,” BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley said. He went on to add the agreement was not an admission of liability from either party, but the settlement is “favorable for both companies.”
Well, of course nobody is liable, of course, but favorable to both Anadarko and British Petroleum…how might that be?
Well, simply put, British Petroleum has estimated total costs in cleanup and damages will eventually reach $42 billion dollars. Anadarko could have potentially been on the line for 25% of that due to its 25% ownership of the well. However, if Anadarko had been able to prove in its lawsuit that British Petroleum was grossly negligent, then they would have been financially off the hook altogether. So, essentially Anadarko chose to cut their losses, with BP agreeing to the company paying only 10% of projected damages and cleanup costs, while Anadarko also gives up its pursuit of proving BP was grossly negligent in the spill.
And in case one needs reminding, a proven designation of gross negligence would raise BP’s fine by $18 billion dollars, because the fine per barrel under such a designation would increase from $1,100 per barrel to $4,300 dollars.
And that’s getting expensive, really expensive, so though Bob was glad to see Anadarko “shouldering some of the responsibilities,” what BP really wanted was for the company to stop pursuing this designation, same as they want to settle with Transocean and Halliburton more than likely under the same terms, possibly saving British Petroleum billions… billions that would go towards the restoration of the Gulf Coast, billions that would certainly constitute BP fulfilling their sense of responsibility, and potentially coming closer to finally making the coast whole again.
So yeah, when Bob Dudley says on Monday, “There is clear progress with parties stepping forward to meet their obligations and help fund the economic and environmental restoration of the Gulf, it’s time for the contractors, including Transocean and Halliburton, to do the same,” that’s pretty damned annoying to hear from the CEO of British Petroleum, and pretty self-serving too.
I get that as a profit-making company, Bob and BP are beholden to their shareholders. I also understand it only makes sense in our current system for a profit-making company to try real hard to not pay out damages, regardless of who or how many it hurts, while at the same time, giving the impression they are doing all they can to make things right.
But Bob? Mr. Dudley?
To those of us who pay close attention to this story, we do see what is going on here. Your company complains Ken Feinberg is paying too much to claimants. Your company bought off scientists from universities all over the Gulf Coast in hopes of furthering your advantage in upcoming court proceedings. Your company killed eleven people in this catastraphuk alone. Your company is making it very difficult for researchers to get their hands on necessary oil samples so they can find ways to restore the coast your company fucked up. Your company stands accused of harassing plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against it.
And yes, your company is fighting the designation of gross negligence while at the same time urging other companies to own up to their obligations and responsibilities.
In other words, Bob, you’re full of shit.
Your company is grossly negligent. There is little to dispute about that, but what, unfortunately, is very much in dispute is whether you sons of bitches are going to be able to buy your way out of it.
Read the article:
Have a nice day.
So, when the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement hit British Petroleum and their contractors with 15 “incidents of non-compliance,” BP expressed their hopes that now, finally, Transocean and Halliburton would admit responsibility, quit their complaining and put in the effort necessary to join BP in their current “safety first” environment.
“BP said it has taken steps to enhance safety and the sanctions show that its contractors also played a role in the spill, “We continue to encourage other parties, including Transocean and Halliburton, to acknowledge their responsibilities in the accident,” BP said in a statement.”
Because over the past 18 months, isn’t safety for the environment all British Petroleum has strived for? Of course, certainly…since the Macondo Well was plugged, BP has given nary a thought to profit and/or saving money. It is quite likely a moment of pure coincidence that such an admission of guilt by Transocean or Halliburton, as BP has asked for, would certainly bolster BP in their lawsuits against the two companies and/or avoid a declaration by the courts of “gross negligence.”
And I’m sure the savings involved in such possible events, why they never ever entered the mind of BP’s corporate personhood. Really, British Petroleum, in their new-found sense of responsibility is now all about safety, and only about safety, so it would make perfect sense for them to hope and pray that Halliburton and Transocean also make such strong safety goals a priority, you know, just like BP has and…wait, what?
Oil giant BP believes a worst-case oil spill nearly a mile below the Atlantic off Scotland would dwarf the U.S. Gulf oil spill, internal documents indicate. The contingency plans for a worst-case spill from a proposed exploratory well in wildlife-rich British waters off the Shetland Islands indicate a sea-floor oil gusher would spew 75,000 barrels of crude oil a day for 140 days before it could be capped — more than double the Gulf of Mexico spill’s 88-day average 53,000 barrels a day from April 20-July 15, 2010, the documents reviewed by Britain’s Independent newspaper indicated. The Gulf spill’s wellhead released about 4.9 million barrels before it was capped. The proposed North Uist exploratory well’s worst-case gusher would release 10.5 million barrels, the BP documents forecast.
Environmentalists say the well’s planned seabed location is in waters among the most wildlife-rich in all of Britain. Seabirds, including many rare species, are found in enormous concentrations, along with large numbers of whales, dolphins and seals and substantial fish stocks.
A BP spokesman told the newspaper the global oil and gas company was required by law to model the worst-case scenario, “But the reality is, the chances of a spill are very unlikely,” he said.
“Very unlikely,” he said.
Okay, that begs a question: what did BP consider the chances of the Deepwater Horizon blowing up to be?
Really likely? Kind of likely? Maybe kinda sorta once in a blue moon likely?
No, probably about as likely as Transocean and Halliburton are to suddenly acknowledge their responsibilities in the Macondo blowout. Or maybe just as likely as British Petroleum is to finally make all the Gulf Coast residents whole again…
No, I know, BP considered the possibility of the Deepwater Horizon exploding about as likely as BOEMRE again granting their company deep water drilling leases in the Gulf.
Well, that isn’t encouraging at all.
Have a nice day.
…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…
Make them pay.
They’re still picking up tar balls on Gulf Coast beaches, what…17 months later?
Have a nice day.
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.
Because these people must go through Feinberg’s GCCF claims process, first.
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:
Have a nice day.