Gulf Coast Oil Spill Update

From the good folks at NRDC
This morning’s summary:
An armada of ships is working on the Gulf oil spill right now, trying to corral the spewing oil and keep an eagle eye on the weather. Right now, forecasters don’t think the tropical storm named Alex will take aim at the Gulf. But any system can quickly change course and send the cleanup efforts grinding to a halt. BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, the biggest oil producers in the Gulf of Mexico, are evacuating non-essential crews from some offshore platforms in the region as a safety precaution. Meanwhile, in the next two to three weeks, BP will make major changes at and above the well. It will bring in a host of new ships to replace those currently on site and radically change the underwater architecture that has captured 15,000 to 25,000 barrels of oil daily during much of the past month. The company will make it easier for ships to connect to and disconnect from its network of subsea pipes in the event of a hurricane. But the Gulf oil spill is still facing an ominous situation, and there are waves of anxiety over the weather in what is expected to be a very active hurricane season.
Quotable quote:

We think the storm is going to stay on a more southern track. That would be good news because it would avoid the area near the oil spill – Todd Kimberlain, National Hurricane Center.

National News
CNN: Alex enters Gulf, steering clear of oil spill
Tropical Storm Alex — temporarily weakened to a tropical depression — headed into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where it was expected to regain strength but to steer clear of oil-affected areas. Nevertheless, large waves from Alex’s path could hamper clean-up efforts from Louisiana to Florida from the spill.

Read more:

Bloomberg: BP, Shell evacuate Gulf crews
BP and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, the biggest oil producers in the Gulf of Mexico, are evacuating crews from some offshore platforms in the region as a safety precaution because of Tropical Storm Alex. BP removed non-essential workers from its Atlantis, Mad Dog and Holstein oil-production platforms in the western part of the Gulf, Shell evacuated 430 people and idled production from its Auger and Brutus platforms.

Read more from Katarzyna Klimasinska

Marketwatch: BP’s oil spill bill soars to $2.65 billion
BP’s oil spill tab just keeps getting bigger. On Monday, the oil giant said it has reached $2.65 billion for its efforts to try to stem the 10-week-old gushing oil.

Read more:

Los Angeles: Oil spill team frets
Even if Alex bypasses the oil spill area, there will be a number of other storms waiting in the wings in what is forecast as a very active hurricane season. Hurricanes feed on warm surface waters, and so far the Gulf waters are warmer than usual this year. The hurricane—and worry season – will last until November 30.

Read more,0,1365993.story

Christian Science Monitor: BP may be more ready for next hurricane scare
Alex may bypass the oil spill, but, in the meantime, BP and the Feds may be adopting some strategies to make it easier to cope with the next hurricane. First they are bringing in more ships and changing the undersea structure to allow for ships to connect to and disconnect from its network of subsea pipes in the event of a hurricane.

Read more from Mark Sappenfield

Bloomberg: BP sticks to August relief well schedule, may finish early
The first of two relief wells aiming to intercept and plug the leak has reached more than 90 percent of its target depth and detected the metal casing of the Macondo wellbore. The company is keeping to its announced August timeline, but might finish earlier.

Read more from Katarzyna Klimasinska

CBS News: Local Fisherman: Shut Out of Clean-Up
Across the Gulf, BP says it’s hired 3,200 private vessels, their captains and crew to help protect and clean the Gulf. The boat owner makes anywhere from $1,200 to $3,000 a day depending on boat size, plus $200 for every person onboard. Yet captains from Louisiana to Alabama complain out of state opportunists are swooping in while local captains sit on the dock waiting for a phone call.

Read more from Kelly Cobiella

Washington Post: More on Judge Feldman’s oil stock holdings
The details about U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman’s oil stock holdings gets worse every day. He’s the judge who ruled last week that the Obama administration 6-month ban on offshore drilling in the Gulf could be lifted. It’s already come out that he owned oil stocks, including Transocean but sold them before the case began. Now it turns out he also held ExxonMobile stock, selling it less than 5 hours before his moratorium ruling. You be the judge: Should Feldman have recused himself from this sensitive case because of his stock portfolio?

Read more by Steven Mufson and Joe Stevens: Dealing with the impact of oil spill on health
As the clean-up effort stretches from weeks into months with no end in sight, experts at a conference in New Orleans last week warned that little is known about how long-term exposure to oil and fumes can affect human health.

Read more from Mary Caperton Morton

New York Times: Misinformation: BP ‘reporter’ doesn’t mention oil slick
One of the new “reporters” sent to the Gulf by BP—aka public relations personnel – flew over the Gulf and posted a “news” blog without mentioning the spreading oil slick.

Read more from Andrew Revkin

Wall Street Journal: BP on track to double amount of oil collected this week
The good news is that BP might actually double the amount of oil it is sucking up from the well this week. The bad news—if a building tropical storms hits the area, it could interrupt the containment process for two weeks.

Read more

USA Today: The IRS is waiting
Now comes the IRS. As hard as it is to get paid for lost wages, the fishermen and businesses have to contend with taxes.

Read more

Also check out this IRS bulletin:,,id=224757,00.html?portlet=7

Christian Science Monitor: Preparing to shut down the well
Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said he will suspend recovery efforts if winds reach a gale force of 40 knots or greater (46 miles an hour or more) and the storm is judged to be at least 120 hours away from hitting the base of operations at the well. A hurricane of any strength could wreak havoc on the fleet of 6,300 vessels that took two months to assemble to fight the oil spill.

Read more


Dallas Morning News: Gulf Oil Spill
It’s a balancing act and a debate inside the BP corporation—how far to go to regain public trust which may mean admitting certain liabilities—and protecting its flanks legally. It is already exposed to more than 200 lawsuits and possibly billions in government fines.

Read more from Curt Anderson, Ramit Plushnick-Masti and David Koenig,

Times-Picayune: Frustrated station owners want BP help
As more Americans shun BP gasoline as a form of protest over Gulf oil spill, station owners are insisting BP do more to help them convince motorists that such boycotts mostly hurt independently owned businesses, not the British oil giant. To win back customers, they’d like the company’s help in reducing the price at the pump.

Read more

Wall Street Journal: States weighing big claims against BP
Coast states are gearing up to follow shrimpers and hotel owners in seeking payouts from BP PLC for lost revenue and other damages stemming from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill Gulf.The demands could far exceed the $305 million BP has already given the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida

Read more from Neil King, Jr, Dionne Searcey and Vannessa O’Connell


Washington Post: Obama, British leader discuss strain in nations’ ties
President Obama and the new British Prime Minister David Cameron met privately during the G20 summit in Toronto this weekend to discuss, among other things, the strained relations between the two countries because of the BP oil spill.

Read more from Michael Wilson and Scott W. Savage

Los Angeles Times: Senate Democrats poised to start energy bill
With the gulf oil spill creating political opportunity, Senate Democrats will begin crafting a sweeping energy bill this week that could include a first-ever, though more modest, cap on global-warming pollution.

Read more from Lisa Mascaro and Richard Simon,0,4030045.story

Los Angeles Times: Gulf Oil Spill: Hands reach across the sand in protest
From Santa Monica to Pensacola Beach, Fla., to Washington, D.C., and even as far as London, protesters worried about the Gulf oil spill gathered Saturday to hold hands, in hundreds of Hands Across the Sand rallies. The goal, as organizers put it, was to “form symbolic barriers against spilling oil.”

Read more from Margot Roosevelt and Molly Hennessey-Fiske


McClatchy Newspapers: No skimmers in sight as oil floods Mississippi waters
In overflights during the weekend, the oil could be seen, in all directions, moving to the shores of Mississippi, but there were no skimmers in sight to stave it off.

Read more from Karen Nelson


Huffingtion Post: Shep Smith rages on Fox News colleague for defending BP
This is the way the exchange went Friday on Fox News when Fox News anchor Shep Smith called out his colleague Judge Andrew Napolitano who said the spill was the government’s fault because BP relied on faulty government models for contingency plans.”I’m getting kinda grossed out, Judge,” Smith shot back. “You’re blaming the government for this?'”I’m blaming the government for this,” Napolitano affirmed. Smith then went off on BP’s record of safety violations and mistakes, asking Napolitano, “And now you’re going to turn around and blame the government for these bumbling, fumbling, crazy people?”

Read more

HomerNews: Sen. Murkowski’s Oil spill compensation act
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has introduced the Oil Spill Compensation Act — to assist spill victims and hold oil companies fully responsible. The legislation would establish an expedited and independent claims process to ensure that all who are harmed by the Gulf spill — particularly those who need immediate help — promptly receive the money owed to them. Lawyers’ fees would be limited to no more than 5 percent of settlements, Sen. Murkowski writes.

Read more by Murkowski:



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