Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disaster Summary

From the good folks at NRDC.
Today’s summary
As the Gulf of Mexico begins to breathe easier now that the out-of-control oil spill is dead, major new obstacles are cropping up on land. A shallow drilling company is asking a federal judge to throw out the Obama administration’s second drilling ban. Shell has announced plans to start deep-water drilling in the Gulf despite BP’s experience. Cuba plans to start drilling in the Gulf in international waters 50 miles from the Florida Keys. Scientists are concerned that an oil spill like BP’s in the Gulf could reach the Gulf stream and head north into the Atlantic. An oil spill response fleet being set up by the biggest U.S. and European oil companies won’t get to the Gulf before the drilling ban expires still scheduled for Nov. 30. And a presidential panel’s investigation into the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been hamstrung because it lacks subpoena power to call witnesses. The House has passed the measure but the Senate is gridlocked and may go home for election-year politics before it takes action.

Quotable quote:

“BP realizes it has to change. Another disaster like this and it will be stripped of its U.S. operations and may even go bankrupt” – Peter Hitchens, oil analyst.

And this one, too
“Our early analysis has documented clear detrimental effects to animals and habitats in the Gulf ecosystem” – NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco

National News

Times-Picayune: Ensco Offshore asks court to throw out second ban on drilling

On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman opened the second hearing on the second lawsuit challenging the President’s drilling ban. Shallow water driller Ensco Offshore Co. is asking the judge to throw out the federal government’s newest ban.

Read more from Rebecca Mowbray

Wall Street Journal: BP’s new chief puts emphasis on safety

Acting to restore BP PLC’s reputation in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, incoming CEO Robert Dudley unveiled big changes designed to improve safety and announced the departure of the senior executive who oversaw drilling operations. Dudley said Wednesday that he will split BP’s exploration-and-production division into three parts and order a review of how the company manages third-party contractors. The overhaul creates a safety unit that will have sweeping powers to challenge management decisions if it considers them too risky

Read more from Guy Chazan

Also see
Will changing of the guard at BP change anything?

New York Times: Drilling plans off Cuba stir fears of impact on Gulf

Next year, a Spanish company will begin drilling new wells 50 miles from the Florida Keys — in Cuba’s sovereign waters. Cuba currently produces little oil. But oil experts say the country might have reserves along its north coast as plentiful as that of Ecuador and Colombia. Ocean scientists warn that a well blowout similar to the BP disaster could send oil spewing onto Cuban beaches and then the Florida Keys in as little as three days. If the oil reached the Gulf Stream, oil could flow up the coast to Miami and beyond.

Read more

Check this one out, too


Wall Street Journal: Shell: Mars platform shows bright future despite for Gulf despite spill
Royal Dutch Shell PLC said Wednesday it has made a final investment decision to build a second platform in its deep-water field in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, a move that shows the oil giant’s commitment to the area despite uncertainty about new regulations expected to follow the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Read more

Bloomberg: Big Oil’s spill fleet may lag behind deepwater drilling by 3 months
The biggest U.S. and European oil companies may not assemble a fleet of spill-response vessels that can handle a disaster like BP Plc’s Macondo blowout until March, three months after the deep-water drilling ban in the Gulf of Mexico is scheduled to expire. The delay may leave the Gulf and coastal beaches and fisheries vulnerable to another spill for months after the federal government allows deep-water oil exploration to resume.

Read more

Huffington Post: Gulf oil spill booms to be recycled into GM car parts
Anything can be recycled, even Gulf oil spill booms. GM has decided to reuse these booms and turn them into car parts such as air dams and water

Read more


AOL News: Senate gridlock hampers BP oil spill investigation

A presidential panel’s investigation into the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been hamstrung because it lacks subpoena power to call witnesses, according to the heads of the Oil Spill Commission. The panel began its work over the summer expecting to be able to subpoena witnesses. But Congress has not yet passed legislation that grants the commission those powers. The House approved a bill granting the commission subpoena powers, but the bill is held up in the Senate as lawmakers get ready to recess to go home to campaign for re-election.

Read more

Chron: Three Mexican states sue BP over Gulf oil spill

Three Mexican states have sued BP PLC, Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton Co. seeking unspecified damages over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The negligence lawsuits were filed in San Antonio, Tx., by Tamaulipas, Veracruz and Quintana Roo, known for their beaches. The suits allege the plume has reached international waters.

Read more


Chicago Tribune: Governors take control of $500m research fund
Make way for the governors. BP and the governors of the five Gulf Coast states announced plans Wednesday to funnel a promised $500 million in research funds through an organization run by the governors, not the nation’s scientific community. Scientists raised fears that most of the grants would be doled out to institutions in the governors’ home states, pork barrel projects and not scientific ones.

Read more,0,5087023.story

NOAA: Resource restoration planning process begins
The Department of the Interior, NOAA and the co-trustees for natural resources affected by the Gulf oil spill announced Wednesday an injury assessment and restoration planning phase of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment. It’s a legal process to determine the type and amount of restoration needed to compensate the public for harm to natural resources and their human uses as a result of the spill.

Read more

Times-Picayune: Louisiana to create oyster advisory panel after Gulf oil spill

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s coastal advisor on Wednesday announced a new advisory committee to guide decisions about the future of the oyster industry in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Oysters have been one of the hardest-hit sectors of the state’s seafood industry following this summer’s oil spill.

Read more from Chris Kirkham

Press-Register: More than $100m in damage claims to one Alabama county
Oil spill damage payments in Baldwin County from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility topped $100 million as of Wednesday morning, according to new data, and at least one business owner, who had received a paltry check, learned that her application was being re-evaluated. It’s part of plans announced by claims administrator Ken Feinberg to implemented major changes and re-evaluate of denied or underpaid claims.

Read more

See this one, too


AP: BP oil spill turns in Gulf of Mexico into scientific gold rush for researchers

Once a backwater in the world of oceanographic research, the Gulf of Mexico has suddenly become the site of a scientific gold rush, all because of the BP oil spill.The environmental disaster represents a once-in-a-generation research opportunity that has oceanographers salivating. There’s big money – $500 million from BP alone – up for grabs. And for scientists who usually toil in near-obscurity, there’s the prospect of lots of media attention, not to mention scientific ones.

Read more from Seth Borenstein and John Flesher



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