Did you hear about a letter our government sent to BP? If like me you are reading too much and feeling a bit zoned out due to outrage and catastrophe fatigue, you may have missed it too.
It was confusing, but McClatchy helped clear up the questions: Actually there are two letters. The June 8th letter tells BP to get their act together in no uncertain terms. The second, pdf, June 11 letter gives BP an ultimatum.Washington Post:
You have the weekend to figure out a better way to contain the oil.
Acting on the Obama team decision (see below): Coast Guard Rear Adm. James A. Watson wrote the letters.
BP was told Friday that the government was dissatisfied with the response to the first letter, and dissatisfied with the job BP is doing on containing the oil. Watson told BP "every effort must be expended to speed up the process."
Watson criticized BP for basing its latest containment plan on earlier, lower estimates of oil flow. "It is clear that additional capacity is urgently needed," he wrote.
"It is clear that additional capacity is urgently needed..." Washington Post.
The McClatchy article makes it clear that the second letter gives a 48 hour deadline to BP and that this is the second letter/deadline given to BP this week. Have you heard this on the news? I haven't.
Watson tells BP that they are taking too much time (a month) to get ships out there to increase the containment capacity.
(The) proposed plan for containing the runaway Deepwater Horizon well does not take into account new higher estimates of how much oil is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and demanded that the company provide a more aggressive plan within 48 hours.
"Because those estimates have now been revised . . . it is clear that additional capacity is urgently needed," he said.
Who made the decision to demand better, more and faster action from BP? The "Obama team."
"This isn’t open for discussion," a senior administration official said. "BP must do better to plan a more aggressive response. In the same way we pushed for second relief well, additional redundancy, more transparency, paying for the berms, etc... we will push them to find better answers to contain the oil."
The oil is reaching Alabama today and as Rachel Maddow keeps reporting, the plan to treat the surface oil on the coast is "a disgrace." We hope this will also be addressed by the White House immediately because more can and should be done. Lots more.
Sounds like the government is in charge:
BP shall provide the plans for these parallel, continuous, and contingency collection processes, including an implementation timeline, within 72 hours of receiving this letter. Current collection efforts may not be interrupted to implement these plans.
BP was last night given a 48-hour ultimatum to improve its response to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, after the US Coast Guard accused the company of failing to have the right equipment and back-up plans.
Rear Admiral James Watson blamed the company for lacking the necessary equipment to capture all the oil flowing from its catastrophic leak.
(BP has) just two days to explain how it can capture more oil, after raising concerns that current plans to increase the amount siphoned off from the leak would take until mid-July.
(Watson) criticised the British oil major for not putting in place adequate back-up plans to deal with any equipment failure./snip/
....The letter represents a new hostile turn in the relationship between BP and the coastline authorities.....
Tough oversight of BP, nytimes.
Among the requirements.... are that any new method to contain the leak be devised to reduce disruptions from hurricanes, when the full flow of oil would once again spew into the gulf.
The letter came amid continuing questions about how much of the leaking oil was being captured by BP’s latest containment effort......and whether the company could be collecting more but had failed to provide enough surface equipment to handle it.
In response to the letter.... David Nicholas, a BP spokesman, said the company worked "extremely closely with the federal authorities including the Coast Guard in all our operations and will continue to do so." Previously, BP engineers working on containment and capping efforts had said that all plans and projects were sent to the unified command for approval.
Watson's letter was a response to one from BP that described the company's multi-phase plans to contain the spill, involving several elements to be phased in by mid-July.
"The combination of Phase One and Two results in a capacity of 40,000 to 50,000 barrels of oil per day," said Doug Suttles....."We believe this plan is responsive to your order," (but we) cannot assure that "complete collection rates" are guaranteed.
Not good enough, said Watson. "....every effort must be expended to speed up the process," he wrote.
"....your plan does not go far enough to mobilize redundant resources in the event of an equipment failure with one of the vessels, or some other unforeseen problem."reuters
The WaPo article reports as well on the president's 30 minute conversation with the new British Prime Minister David Cameron, saying that Mr. Obama assured him that "his anger toward" BP wouldn't change the relationship between the two countries.
Not sure that will suffice after we tied them in soccer today!
President Obama sought to smooth transatlantic tensions with a phonecall to David Cameron this afternoon, assuring him that US criticisms of BP were "nothing to do with national identity"./snip/
Critics had accused the US President of stoking international tensions, and thus worsening hostility against BP, by referring to the company as "British Petroleum" - a name it no longer uses.
However, pressure on the company over the disastrous Louisiana oil spill intensified earlier in the afternoon when the details of a letter from the US Coast Guard emerged which imposed a 48-hour deadline on BP to improve its clean-up operation. The letter said that BP was not mobilising resources effectively or moving quickly enough.
We don't yet know if BP will suspend dividends to shareholders, another source of tension between the countries but the timesonline said this:
BP has drawn up a plan to defer a £1.75 billion payout to shareholders.