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Gulf Watchers Diary Schedule
Monday - evening drive time
Wednesday - morning
Friday - morning
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Part one of the digest of diaries is here and part two is here.

Please be kind to kossacks with bandwidth issues. Please do not post images or videos. Again, many thanks for this.

While many Americans enjoyed a long holiday weekend, on the Gulf Coast some were crying out for Washington and the press to remember that the nightmare of the BP Oil Spill is far from over,leaving them with little to be thankful for.

Two editorials in the Mobile Press Register this weekend
have called for more attention and stronger action from this administration.
The paper's editorial board
attacks the national press(specifically NYT and WaPo) that contends Feinberg is doing a fine job and depicts Gulf residents and businesses as greedy.

According to the editorials, claims czar Kenneth Feinberg is doing a commendable job despite claimants’ and politicians’ best efforts to hoodwink, manipulate and bully him.

If members of the papers’ editorial boards would leave the East Coast for the Gulf Coast, they could meet face-to-face with the people who have been brutalized by the process.

In Bayou La Batre, they could sit down with Vic and Patricia Zirlott, sixth-generation commercial fishermen who’ve still not received their six-month emergency payment, even though they’ve submitted profit-and-loss statements and five years worth of revenue numbers.

In Gulf Shores, they could watch real estate executive Sheila Hodges thumb through the 1,000 pages of documentation she filed in support of her Gulf Shores company’s claim that it lost millions of dollars when tourists cancelled their reservations after the BP oil spill.

Ms. Hodges could tell them how it feels to be offered pennies on the dollar by Mr. Feinberg.

In Foley, chamber of commerce executive Donna Watts could introduce them to small-business owners who are on the verge of closing their doors — and some who have gone out of business — because they haven’t gotten what they’re owed.

Having seen for themselves the anguish on the Gulf Coast, editorial writers could then see that Mr. Feinberg’s numbers do not tell the stories of individual businesses that have received a fraction of what they’re owed.

The editors of the Press Register feel strongly enough that they have called for the firing of Kenneth Feinberg.

When he took the job as the independent arbiter of claims, Mr. Feinberg promised the process would be fair, prompt and generous. Instead, it has been arbitrary, slow and stingy. Many claimants say they’ve been made to feel like beggars.

The Press-Register’s editorial board has called on the Obama administration to fire Kenneth Feinberg. We did so with the confidence that comes when a newspaper immerses itself in a story and understands the folks involved.


Republican Congressman Jo Bonner of Alabama stressed the need for a regional
working together as a member of the Coastal Recovery Commission.

At the very moment we’re urging BP and federal agencies to do the right thing for victims of the spill, we have to plan for a future that assures greater resiliency for individuals and businesses when the next challenge hits us.

And there will be other challenges, from oil spills to hurricanes to sudden economic upheavals in the global economy. To overcome them, we must better position our region and our citizens to bounce back.

It will be as a region, not as an uncoordinated string of places that share only geography, that we’ll achieve the critical mass of economic and political vitality required to turn our hopes into reality.

Aligning coalitions is at the heart of the Coastal Recovery Commission effort. And as we move toward our final report on Dec. 15, you’ll hear more about proposals for achieving goals for a healthy, prosperous and resilient coastal region.

It is a bit unsettling that he lists oil spills under possible future disasters, but I guess that is the reality we have to face. It should be very interesting to see what proposals the group comes up with and whether there will be support and money from the feds to carry them out.
He does promise to "keep the heat" on BP and the administration to fulfill their promises.

Again, from the Press Register this morning, reports of mental health problems brought on by the spill.

Crisis counselors in Baldwin County have reported finding significant depression and anxiety and even failed marriages linked to the summer-long oil spill.

"We’re hearing many stories of financial ruin and people losing everything they worked for," said Robin Riggins, executive director of the Baldwin County Mental Health Center

Counselors conducted random interviews last month with 494 people and business owners in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Foley. Riggins said that half of those respondents were invited to begin treatment for the issues that they described.From June to October, before the community canvassing began, 174 people sought treatment for oil-spill related problems at the Baldwin center, according to Riggins.

"It tells me the problem is continuing to exacerbate," Riggins said.

The 20 crisis counselors took a "clinical" approach, asking people to relate their experiences. They spoke with people at public events and places of business rather than knocking on doors. The program has been paid for by by the $12 million given to the state by BP to fund mental health work.

I don't know much about Congressman Bonner, but I hope he is a more honest politician than this Alabama state Senator.
Senator Trip Pittman was appointed by the governor to to a committee of local officials who would decide how the $65 million, given to the state for emergency response to the oil spill, would be divided up. The city of Fairhope received 1.15 million. Pittman's company, Pittman Tractor was paid 639,000 of that for having laid boom.

When Fairhope submitted its project proposals in May, county department heads realized Pittman’s potential involvement, according to County Commission member Charles "Skip" Gruber, who was commission chairman at the time.

"Fairhope had turned in the project proposals as having Pittman Tractor Co. doing the work," Gruber said.

He said that Leigh Anne Ryals, who at that time was the county’s Emergency Management Agency director, called his attention to the paperwork.

Gruber said that Ryals contacted then-County Administrator Michael Thompson, who called in then-chief legal counsel Scott Barnett. Gruber said that Barnett indicated that the situation posed an ethics violation for Pittman.

In an interview this week, Thompson said that when Pittman was told about questions concerning his company’s role, he came back with a second set of paperwork that did not mention his company.

Gruber said that he was the one who spoke with Pittman about the questions. He said he also cautioned the senator about possible ethics conflicts.

In fact, there are two sets of official paperwork outlining Fairhope’s project proposal costing an estimated $650,000. Both sets have identical cover letters bearing the date May 8.

One set lists Pittman's company being the contractor and is signed by Pittman, while the second set shows Oil Recovery Co. Inc. of Alabama as the contractor.

It was a no bid contract

Once again Gulf Coast musicians are bringing attention to the ongoing effects of the disaster, but not just with a concert!

Although attention seems to have slowly drifted away from the BP oil spill and its effect on the Gulf Coast, musician Dr. John (also known as Mac Rebennack Jr.) is spearheading a coalition of artists hoping to redirect Washington's interest back to the region (89 bands, including R.E.M., Ozzy Osbourne, OK Go, My Morning Jacket and Bonnie are on board).

"Everybody thinks that everything is fine here," Rebennack told POLITICO. "I am outraged. ... This is probably the biggest disaster that's happened." Rebennack and the other artists have sent a letter to the White House outlining five key demands, including that a portion of BP's penalties to be steered toward Gulf coast recovery.

"I just pray that the president might listen to us and actually make a concerted effort towards giving us our wetlands back, our barrier islands back." But Rebennack says he's not hopeful.
"I’m not optimistic at all, I am a realist." And he thinks President Obama could stand to benefit from taking a closer look at the fallout from the Gulf oil spill.

"If he came and would actually see the amount of oil that's floating in the Gulf and not be hidden from his eyes, he'd be amazed."


Entertainment from BP? If you liked those Iris Cross commercials, you'll really love this!

BP is commissioning a feature-length film about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill — but the company says it is not intended to scrub its reputation clean.
"They are making a film of the spill primarily for an internal audience as an archive of a momentous event in the company’s history (not to mention those impacted by the tragedy and its aftermath)," Robert Wine, a spokesman for BP, said in an e-mail.

Mr. Wine said World Television had been BP’s main "internal video producer" for the last decade. World Television has started lining up interviews with journalists and other figures for the film; it did not respond to requests for comment. In total, World Television has completed about 190 Web videos about the oil spill this year, some of which are still available on

What can I say? I'm sure we won't see it on PBS.


All that money BP has spent on public relations, and now a feature-length film has to cost a lot. But don't worry about them. Billionaires take care of each other.

BP Capital, the investment management firm led by billionaire energy investor T. Boone Pickens, has purchased shares of BP PLC for the first time in nearly six years and dropped its holdings in offshore oil driller Transocean Ltd., according to a quarterly report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Dallas-based BP Capital purchased $19.8 million US worth of American depository receipts in BP sometime during the third quarter, after the stock price hit 21-month lows at the end of June. The last time the firm held shares in BP was in the fourth quarter of 2004, SEC filings show.

Maybe they were just looking for a bargain.

BP Shares up after $7.1 billion dollar sale

Shares in BP PLC are trading higher after the London-based oil company announced over the weekend that it has agreed to sell its 60 percent stake in Argentina-based oil and gas producer Pan American Energy for $7.1 billion.

The sale to Argentina's Bridas Corp., which already owns the other 40 percent of Pan American, is part of BP's plans to sell tens of billions of dollars of assets to help pay for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico


Is BP selling Alaskan assets?

This won't make Sarah happy.The Russians are coming! But maybe it will as it will mean oil jobs.

The company's recent behavior suggests BP is marketing some or all of its Alaska assets, the largest of which is BP Exploration (Alaska), or BPXA, to cover liabilities from its Gulf of Mexico Macondo well disaster.

Which company is top contender for acquisition of some of BP's Alaska assets? Petroleum News' analysis puts TNK-BP, Russia's third-largest oil producer, at the top of the list.

TNK-BP is 50 percent owned by BP.

At a glance TNK-BP, which in mid-October purchased BP fields in Vietnam and Venezuela for $1.9 billion, appears to be a good match for Alaska.

For one, the company wants to transform from a major oil group to a major oil and gas group. Alaska has world-class reserves of natural gas.

For another, a significant part of TNK-BP's crude is produced from fields that were long considered uneconomic or unrecoverable, including heavy oil accumulations. Since its formation in September 2003, TNK-BP has established a track record of successfully applying technology to develop hard-to-recover and mature reserves.

TNK-BP's top technology executive is none other than Francis Sommer, who began his career with BP in 1986 working at the Prudhoe Bay oil field. Sommer held several engineering positions in Alaska, specializing in new field appraisal and development, enhanced oil recovery, reservoir modeling and performance forecasting.

In 2003, he became asset manager for Prudhoe Bay. In this role, according to TNK-BP's biography on Sommer, he "led efforts in novel technology applications such as gas cap water injection, LoSal water injection and viscous oil developments."

In late 2005 Sommer joined TNK-BP as vice president of production technology. Today he is executive vice president of technology.

The company is cutting specific costs that would allow it to squeeze more cash out of a sale. The latest example occurred in early November, when BP handed approximately 30 former Arco Alaska employees, who work for BP in the greater Prudhoe Bay area, retirement packages that give them a limited number of days to accept or lose the retirement provisos that former Arco president Mike Bowlin negotiated for them before BP took over full operatorship of Prudhoe in 2000.

Prior to that time, Arco Alaska operated half the field and BP operated the other. In the assumption of sole operatorship, BP retained some of Arco Alaska's Prudhoe employees.

Arco's retirement package was considered the Cadillac of the industry and, as such, the terms were very costly for BP to fulfill. According to PN sources close to the divestiture of Arco Alaska to Phillips Petroleum in 2000, BP's top executive, John Browne, agreed to honor the Arco package for people who retired within 20 years. But BP had the option to renege on the agreement, providing, among other things, that BP gave written notice to all affected former Arco employees, offering them a last chance at the munificent retirement plan terms

So,a former BP engineer who was asset manager at Prudhoe Bay is now a vice president of a company that will possibly take over management of BP assets in Alaska? Could it get worse? Yeah, BP will make even more money on the deal because they cheated employees out of retirement packages they were promised!


PLEASE visit Pam LaPier's diary to find out how you can help the Gulf now and in the future. We don't have to be idle! And thanks to Crashing Vor and Pam LaPier for working on this!

Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:
11-24-10 06:01:01 Gulf Watchers Wednesday - Critical Commission Document Pulled - BP Catastrophe AUV #431 - peraspera
11-22-10 04:21:52 Gulf Watchers Monday - Change in Oil Spill Fund Rules: Will BP Benefit? - BP Catastrophe AUV #430 - shanesnana
11-21-10 09:35:21 Gulf Watchers Sunday - New Charges Against BP; Barton Eyes Energy Chair - BP Catastrophe AUV #429 - Yasuragi
Gulf Watchers Block Party - Traveling Boomers - ursoklevar
Gulf Watchers Friday - Criminal Negligence - BP Catastrophe AUV #428 - Lorinda Pike
Gulf Watchers Wednesday - BP Bribes Schools to Brainwash Kids & NOAA Helps - BP Catastrophe AUV #427 - peraspera
Gulf Watchers Monday - Afternoon Edition  - BP Catastrophe AUV #426 - shanesnana

The last Mothership has links to reference material.

Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.

Again, to keep bandwidth down, please do not post images or videos.

Originally posted to shanesnana on Mon Nov 29, 2010 at 01:56 PM PST.

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