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Gulf Watchers Diary Schedule
Monday - evening drive time
Wednesday - morning
Friday - morning
Friday Block Party - evening
Sunday - morning

Part one of the digest of diaries is here and part two is here.

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Woods Hole continued their Dive and Discover’s Expedition 13 through yesterday which was Alvin's last dive. Daily Updates with slide sare available for the mission.

A damning study on Louisiana refineries' atrocious safety records was released by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, refinery neighbors, United Steelworkers and the Environmental Working Group The report examines 2,607 accident reports (averaging ten per week) refineries submitted to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality from 2005-2009. This type of abysmal record on dry land isn't a persuasive argument for allowing the oil industry to engage in the far risker endeavor of deepwater drilling.

Storm preparedness is a continued problem for refineries, despite the fact that rain and tropical storms are part of life in Louisiana. Twenty-seven percent of all accident emissions to the air and 64 percent of emissions to the ground and water occurred during bad weather.

Refineries often claim these accidents are “acts of God,” ignoring the preventable measures and hurricane preparedness protocols that could save money and prevent damage. In 2008, ExxonMobil Baton Rouge failed to shutdown before Hurricane Gustav. As a result, more than 500,000 pounds of pollutants were released via flares that burned for 12 days, putting workers and the community in harm’s way.

Maintenance issues account for a significant portion of refinery accidents and emissions as well. For six years, ExxonMobil’s Chalmette Refining ignored nine Occupational Health and Safety Administration recommendations on piping. In October, a contract worker died while trying to repair a leaking pipe.  

The refinery’s data shows 38 percent of accident emissions are sent to the flare. The EPA stated in 2000 that “frequent, routine flaring may cause excessive, uncontrolled sulfur dioxide releases,” burdening our public health system. Sulfur dioxide is the most released chemical during accidents at Louisiana refineries, totaling more than 8 million pounds from 2005-2009.

“Flaring and malfunctions at refineries is said to cause respiratory aliments, burning throats, watery eyes, migraines and nausea. Residents report the flaring is most frequent after midnight and believe there is an alternative to this practice,” said Suzanne Kneale, a St. Bernard Parish resident and member of Concerned Citizens Around Murphy.

By utilizing flare gas recovery systems and improving storm preparedness and preventative maintenance programs, refineries can save money in the long run and reduce the burden on public health from pollution. The study recommends hiring more trained workers to implement these recommendations.

From the study, Common Ground II: Why Cooperation to Reduce Accidents at Louisiana Refineries is Needed Now (PDF):

Findings

  1. Refinery accident data is underestimated; the number of accidents is likely far higher than detailed in this report.
  1. Accident reduction is an opportunity for job creation and economic growth. Hiring more workers and adding maintenance programs will make a refinery safer. Emissions control technologies can save corporations money and product in the long term.
  1. Refineries do not have sufficient storm and hurricane preparedness plans. Twenty- seven percent of all emissions to the air and 64% of emissions to the ground and water between 2005 - 2009 occurred during bad weather like storms or hurricanes. Many of these accidents could have been prevented if storm preparedness plans were followed, facilities invested in back up power systems and wastewater treat- ment capacities were increased to handle Louisiana rains.
  1. Refineries are not being thorough in their investigations of the accident causes; from 2005 - 2009, 20% of all accidents had no information about the cause.
  1. Management trends — including laying off workers and deferring maintenance — may result in short-term profits for the parent corporation but are generally making refineries more dangerous.
  1. ExxonMobil’s two refineries (Baton Rouge Refinery and Chalmette Refining) have the most frequent accidents and the largest emissions from accidents.
  1. The refining industry is not capitalizing on this opportunity to collaborate to solve the accident problem.

Twelve of the state’s 17 refineries — including worst offenders ExxonMobil, Calumet Lubricants and CITGO — have refused repeated invitations to collaborate in good faith. ConocoPhillips, Valero Refining, Marathon Petroleum and Pelican Refining have responded positively. The Louisiana Mid-Continental Oil and Gas Association, while somewhat responsive, is ultimately ineffective since it cannot speak for the corporations involved.

The United Steelworkers and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade released a report on Louisiana refinery accidents that paints a grim safety and environmental picture. The sparse press coverage, despite all the hard work being done for the lazy press, does tend to lend credence to assertions that the fifth estate are willing captives of the rich and powerful. This story seems to excuse Citgo's poor record as being due to Hurricane Rita as if adequate planning for hurricanes should be of no concern for Louisiana refineries.

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade, an environmental and justice organization, has released a new report detailing accidents at the state's ten largest refineries and chemical plants, including Citgo Petroleum in Lake Charles and ConocoPhillips in West Lake.

The report titled, "Common Ground: Why Cooperation to Reduce Accidents at Louisiana Refineries is Needed Now," is the first comprehensive report that examines accident data provided to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality by the refineries themselves, according to the group.
...
The report looked at data submitted to the LDEQ in 2005 to 2008.

According to the report, Citgo Petroleum in Lake Charles reported 339 total accidents, which caused almost three million pounds of pollution to be released into the air, water and soil. More than half of this however, is a result from damage caused by Hurricane Rita in 2005.

The report says ConocoPhillips in West Lake, reported 186 accidents (another section in the report had this number at 208), causing more than 3.3 million pounds of pollution to be released into the air, water and soil. The report says 24 percent of these accidents were preventable.

Technician missed warning signs of impending blowout while on break. The unanswered question is why blowout prevention was allowed to be so critically dependent on a technician not taking a break. - h/t Yasuragi

A Halliburton Co. technician missed key signals that BP Plc´s doomed Macondo well was on the verge of blowing out because he was taking a smoking break, a federal investigative panel heard. Joseph E. Keith, a senior unit manager for Halliburton´s Sperry subsidiary, told the U.S. Coast Guard-Interior Department panel in Houston today that he left his post aboard the Deepwater Horizon for about 10 minutes on the night of the April disaster to drink coffee and smoke half a cigarette. While he was away from his monitors, pressure data indicated the well was filling up with explosive natural gas and crude, according to charts entered into evidence today by the panel in Houston. Keith said that had he seen the pressure data, he would have "called the rig floor" to warn fellow workers they were in danger.

A tech did not shut down drilling despite being uncomfortable with mud operation. An unasked question would be why Mr. Keith did not at least feel comfortable discussing his concerns with his superiors. - h/t Yasuragi

A technician responsible for monitoring gas levels told federal investigators Tuesday he never considered using his authority to stop work on the doomed Gulf of Mexico oil rig even though mud–moving activities in the hours before the blast made him uncomfortable.

Joseph Keith, who works for a unit of Halliburton, told the joint U.S. Coast Guard–Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement panel that the BP wellsite leader and mud engineers onboard would have been in a better position to assess whether work should have stopped.
"I just didn't think about it at the time," Keith said when asked why he didn't pull the plug on the job if he felt uncomfortable.
...
Intense questioning by lawyers for BP and a Transocean worker who was on the rig that night sought to shift the attention away from their actions and onto the actions of workers for the Halliburton unit, Sperry Drilling.

John Gisclair, a Sperry support services coordinator, was grilled by the lawyers Tuesday.
Gisclair wouldn't acknowledge whether hydrocarbons entered the well undetected by the Halliburton unit, but did say, "Quite obviously, hydrocarbons entered the annulus of the well."

Asked whether Sperry workers failed to detect hydrocarbons before they entered the riser, Gisclair said, "I can't answer for everything Mr. Keith did or did not see."

He was then asked whether there was any evidence the workers did detect hydrocarbons before they entered the riser. "I'm aware of no such evidence," Gisclair responded.

The Natural Resources Defense Council recently released a survey (PDF) showing Gulf residents eat seafood far in excess the consumption allowances used for FDA testing. The NRDC partnered with locals early on in this crises in order to more directly address the concerns of and needs of Gulf residents. They have been relentlessly critical about seafood safety standards.

Methods
We conducted a survey of 547 Gulf Coast residents in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The survey was administered via an online survey instrument and paper copies were administered by community representatives in English and Vietnamese. Gulf Coast residents were defined as those living in counties which border the Gulf of Mexico or an associated water body. To ensure adequate representation of high-end seafood consumers, we partnered with local community organizations to administer the survey to rural coastal communities in Louisiana, and Vietnamese Americans in Louisiana and Mississippi. The survey was advertised through partnerships with local organizations and publication in local newsletters and media. Participation in the survey was voluntary, not contingent on consuming any Gulf seafood, and open to all residents of Gulf Coast counties.

The survey collected information on consumption frequency and meal size for fish, shrimp, crab, and oysters. In addition, we collected demographic information including sex, ethnicity, state and county of residence, the presence of children in the house, weight, and pregnancy status. Survey responses were collected from August 2010 through October 2010 and non-Gulf Coast residents were removed from the data file. Surveys were included in the analysis if responses were present for the majority of questions. We aggregated responses according to various demographic groupings and summarized the results using counts, percentages, mean, median, and 90th percentile.
...
Conclusions
Our survey found elevated rates of seafood consumption among the Gulf Coast residents we surveyed. Rates of shrimp consumption significantly exceeded the estimate used by the FDA to calculate a safe level of exposure to oil spill-related contaminants—ranging from 3.6 to 12.1 times higher. Some subpopulations, particularly Vietnamese-Americans, reported significantly higher seafood consumption rates than other survey respondents and the FDA estimates. In addition, many of our survey respondents are also more vulnerable to contaminants in seafood than FDA accounted for due to smaller body weight. When coupled with increased consumption rates, this can result in a significantly increased dose of contaminants. Our survey also found that many Gulf Coast households include children (44%) who the US EPA recommends should be considered vulnerable to contaminants like the oil-spill related contaminant PAHs and for whom separate risk levels should be set.

An August 17 blog by NRDA's chief scientist, Gina Solomon, lays out NRDA's broad seafood safety concerns. Her Dec. 8 blog about NRDC's just released survey outlines more concerns. - h/t Yasuragi

When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calculated safe levels for cancer-causing chemicals from oil (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons or PAHs) in Gulf seafood, the agency made some assumptions about how much seafood people eat, and used those assumptions as the foundation for their calculations. For example, FDA assumed that people eat fish about twice a week, and shrimp only once. A serving of shrimp was assumed to consist of about four jumbo shrimp. I have blogged before about the laughter and disbelief from our Gulf coast partners when they heard these estimates. “Four shrimp don’t even make a Po’boy sandwich” hooted one of our Gulf coast friends.

The FDA pulled their numbers from a national survey, not from a Gulf Coast survey, or from any other survey of frequent seafood consumers. But a safety calculation is only as good as the numbers it’s based on. If the foundation is flawed, the house can crumble.

The results of our survey confirm what local Gulf Coast residents have been telling us –FDA’s seafood consumption numbers are way too low...

Based on these findings, we are asking FDA to expedite a reassessment of the safety levels for Gulf seafood to ensure that local dietary patterns and other vulnerabilities are incorporated, and to assure Gulf coast residents that their health is protected in decisions about seafood safety.

Other agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have developed guidelines that specify the need to account for local seafood consumption rates and the increased risks to vulnerable populations such as children.  The FDA, in contrast, has none and has ignored the guidelines established by other agencies.  In fact, the underestimates we found in our survey are a symptom of a larger problem.  FDA has been ignoring scientific findings about hazards of chemicals in foods, conducting inadequate monitoring of contaminant levels, and failing to adequately protect vulnerable populations for everything from the plastic allowed in baby bottles to pesticides on produce and mercury in fish.

FDA seafood testing is far short of the mark of what is needed for the Gulf coast residents. The Natural Resources Defense Council, Louisiana Bucket Brigade and Nancy "Mac" McKenzie from NOLA Emergency Response have gotten the attention of NOLA's Times Picayune. The Louisiana Bucket Brigrade is passing out seafood testing kits to local Gulf residents so they can do their own testing.

A call for changes in the Food and Drug Administration's seafood-testing procedure in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was not news to activists and independent scientists, many of whom have been lobbying national authorities for months over the protocols.

"I've been requesting over and over that we redo the calculations and adapt to the dietary habits of the people on the coast," said chemist Wilma Subra, president of Subra Co., a New Iberia lab and environmental consulting firm. The company has been testing all types of seafood as well as the sediment in the aftermath of the spill.
...
The Natural Resources Defense Council released a nonscientific survey last week showing that Gulf residents eat far more seafood than the amounts used by the FDA, Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to determine the level of concern over potentially cancer-causing contaminants in seafood as a result of the BP oil spill.
...
The levels are being measured against a national average of consumption; in terms of shrimp, that translates into one meal a week as small as 3 ounces, or about four jumbo shrimp. The National Resources Defense Council survey showed that many Gulf residents consume three to 12 times that amount.

The Louisiana Department of Health, which is responsible for testing, follows FDA protocols.
...
After trying for months to get an answer from the Unified Command, FDA, EPA and NOAA about which parts of the shrimp are being tested, activist Nancy "Mac" McKenzie bought 2 pounds of shrimp off a dock in Venice on Oct. 22. She then sent the digestive tracks, along with a stock she made from the heads and shells, to a lab in Alabama.
...
The lab results showed there was "organic matter as hydrocarbons" or, as written on the chemical analysis report, "oil and grease" in the digestive tracks in the amount of 193 parts per million.
...
The Bucket Brigade is also trying to support the communities most affected by passing out kits that will let residents do their own testing of seafood. Brabeck recently did so in Grand Isle.
"They are feeling disenfranchised and for good reason,'' he said. "They want to test their own seafood, and by passing out the kits, they have a voice now. They don't have to rely on information from BP or the federal government.''

Animal rehab centers are still caring for spill victims. As usual, BP is being a deadbeat in paying its bills. I wonder if they are going to cough up interest on the $400,000 they owe to the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Program.

Since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, rescue officials say 2,079 birds, 456 sea turtles, some terrapins and two dolphins have been plucked from the oil.

Another 2,263 birds, 18 turtles and four dolphins were found dead with oil on them. All are being dissected to tell whether it was the crude from the BP well that killed them.

Caring for the animals can be time-consuming and costly, an ongoing legacy of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and identifying whether BP is at fault is a complex matter for those working at the centers.
...
With winter approaching, none of the animals will be released until the weather warms up.

Michele Kelley, director of the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Program, which works with Audubon, said the cost of rehabbing turtles and dolphins at the Aquatics Center so far has reached about $500,000. BP has said it will cover the entire cost but so far has reimbursed only about $100,000, Calhoun said.
...
About 16 sea turtles are at the Institute of Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Miss., and four are at facilities in Panama City and Orlando, Fla., said Michael Ziccardi, a veterinarian and oiled wildlife expert at the University of California-Davis, and head of the BP spill's sea turtle and marine mammal response.

About five birds are still in rehab: two brown pelicans, a reddish egret, and the laughing gull and tern.

The pelicans, sent to a Florida rehabilitation center in large flight cages, are well enough to be released, according to Rhonda Murgatroyd, hired by BP PLC to supervise all animal rescues. She said a reddish egret is being cared for at the Louisiana Purchase Zoo in Monroe and the two young birds are at Wings of Hope in Livingston.

Fungus outbreak in Alabama marshes may be associated with stress from continual exposure to oil.

A widespread fungal outbreak is affecting one of Alabama's key marsh grass species, potentially rendering much of this year's seed crop sterile, according to scientists.

While the fungus is always present in coastal marshes, scientists speculated that repeated exposure to oil sheens from the Gulf of Mexico spill floating on Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay this spring and summer might have played a role in the outbreak by reducing the natural resistance of the marsh plants to the disease. It is also possible that other factors, such as an ongoing drought, played a more important role than oil, they said.
...
"The marshes and barrier islands were the areas that took the brunt of the oil and sheens," said Judy Haner, marine conservation director with the Alabama office of The Nature Conservancy. "This infection raises the possibility that our marsh system is more vulnerable because it has been stressed. This wasn't like a hurricane, over and done. This area was subjected to months of repeated exposure."
...
Stan Senner, who served as Alaska's science coordinator following the Exxon Valdez spill and is now the director of conservation science for the Ocean Conservancy, likened the situation in the Gulf to a human immune system affected by stress.

"It is certainly reasonable that exposure to oil may have weakened these plants and made them vulnerable to this fungus or other diseases," Senner said. "People talk about the collapse of the herring population years after Exxon Valdez. Well, one of the agents of that collapse was a fungus that struck the fish. Exposure to oil (for fish born the year of the spill) made them more vulnerable to the fungus."

Senner said the potential link between the fungus and the spill suggests that similar, seemingly unrelated problems may crop up for years to come.

"This story will play out over several years," he said. "Anyone who thinks we have dodged all the bullets in terms of impacts from the spill is being way too premature."

The DOJ is expected to file Gulf oil spill civil case today.

The U.S. Justice Department is expected to announce as early as Wednesday its first significant legal action stemming from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a federal government source familiar with the matter said.

The source said the action involved the filing of civil lawsuits, rather than criminal charges, stemming from the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history and that it was expected to be announced at a news conference as early as Wednesday.
...
The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday the Justice Department is expected to join the hundreds of civil lawsuits that have been filed as a result of the spill and will allege violations of environmental protection regulations, which could trigger penalties under such laws as the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act.

"We're not confirming it," a Justice Department spokesman said of the newspaper report.

But the source, who declined to give further details, confirmed the government's civil filing in federal court was expected on Wednesday.

Feinberg promises to post claims methodology within ten days. I think Mr. Feinberg would have served himself and the victims much, much better had this been done a long time ago but better late than never. The same applies to putting people on the ground to assist with applications.

Feinberg said there had been "constructive criticism" about opaque decision-making and poor communications during the emergency payments process and promised to make several changes. (We reported on the lack of transparency several times, for example on claimants' struggles to get basic information about the status of their claims.)

Feinberg said that he would post a description of his methodology for evaluating claims online and in every claims office in the Gulf, and said he would release the methodology within the next 10 days. "We will have full transparency," he said.

In addition, Feinberg said he would make good on a previous pledge--which he made to ProPublica two months ago--to place staffers on the ground to answer claimants' questions and assist them with their applications. He said these staffers would be local residents and would be stationed by early next week in all claims offices with a substantial volume of incoming claims.

However, Feinberg did not offer to allow claimants to speak with the accountants and adjusters who are evaluating their claims. As we reported in October, Feinberg's system placed final decisions in the hands of about 25 reviewers in Washington, D.C., who could not be contacted directly either by claimants or by front-line staffers who interact with claimants.

Of the other changes, the most significant is a new "quick-pay" option that will be available to claimants who were approved for emergency payments. These applicants can opt for a one-time payment of $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for businesses, which they can receive without providing any additional documentation, if they agree to forgo the right to sue for damages. Feinberg pledged that quick-pay checks will be sent out within 14 days after receiving a valid request.

The quick-pay option has earned criticism from some politicians and claimants as an attempt to buy off people in need. "It could be construed as a pittance for folks who out of desperation have to get some cash now," Tony Kennon, the mayor of the hard-hit coastal city of Orange Beach, Ala., told the AP.
...
Finally, Feinberg promised that his operation would provide a free lawyer to any claimant who requested one. The free legal services, however, would be limited to helping applicants negotiate the claims process, and claimants who chose to file lawsuits would have to find a new lawyer to represent them.

Feinberg's Alabama payments seem inexplicably arbitrary. Even though Feinberg has payed out nearly a half billion in 25,000 claims in Alabama there seems to be little rhyme nor reason in who is getting paid how much money.

The man behind much of that paperwork is Bert Sanders, a partner in a Gulf Shores accounting firm that is handling scores of business claims. Lately Sanders' inveterate politeness has been swamped by frustration. His firm prepares all claims the same way — with required profit-and-loss statements and sales tax records and tax returns - only to see some clients get fully paid, many get a partial payment and many others get denied despite thorough documentation and undeniable proof of loss.

None of it makes sense to him, and he says no one has been able to explain the inconsistent payments. Checks and denials arrive in the mail without elaboration.

...
"Our businesses did nothing wrong and, at times, they have been made to feel like criminals for asking for money," Sanders said. "It's absolutely insulting to us what we have been paid. It's not a complicated situation. It's never been complicated. It's simple math."

BP's early arrival with checkbook in hand gave the business owners hope. But the checks mostly went to individual workers or to those who had boats to enroll in the Vessels of Opportunity program, which paid boat owners $800 a day to roam the nearby waters looking for oil. Business owners were stunned to see employees who lost tips or hours get checks of $25,000 and more while they had to wait, and they were outright angered when neighbors with a couple of skiffs "earned" many thousands more while they worried if their businesses would survive.

...
Many owners were left in the cold. The Overstreets' family landscaping and lawn maintenance business was one of many denied emergency compensation. Even though their loss was easy to prove thanks to a fistful of canceled contracts - even the state of Alabama canceled a contract to take care of the nearby state park, pleading poverty because no one was renting park cottages - their $128,000 claim was denied.
...
Feinberg acknowledged the need to speed up the process in Alabama. He has promised to put more of his people in the field there and to add funds to satisfy legitimate claims. He said there is no strict policy on what type of claim is being honored, only that his accountants evaluate how the loss was connected to the spill. He did note that lawyers, doctors, dentists and veterinarians are out of luck.
...
What Sanders and others particularly want to know is what percentage of overall Alabama business claims have been compensated and how fully. Judging from the spotty results of his clients, Sanders said he suspects the individual claims were paid quickly so that the overall statistics would look better and that significant business claims were pushed aside because they are more complicated. If the loss figure is clearly documented, he said, there should not be any haggling or delay.
...
Though Feinberg has stated that many of the denied or unpaid claims included little in the way of documentation, that is not the case with Sanders' clients or most of the small businesses in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach that made their claims through established accounting firms - and typically with foot-high stacks of documents. Certainly that is not true of Chris Nelson's Bon Secour Fisheries, one of the largest seafood providers in the area. The hit his company took was immediate and substantial, with total sales down at one point by 70 percent.
...
"We've gotten a little over 10 percent of what we are asking for," Nelson said, declining to state the exact amount of his claim. "We don't know why. It seems like an awfully straightforward thing to calculate."

Mississippi Casino Workers' BP Oil Claims Get Second Look. A previous story indicated that while casino business was up the workers tips were down.

The agency in charge of paying Gulf of Mexico oil spill claims is requesting information from casinos that could lead to payments to hundreds of gambling employees previously denied damage claims, the head of an industry trade group says.

Beverly Martin, executive director of the Coast Casino Operators Association, told The Sun Herald that she talked with Bill Mulvey, an attorney appointed by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility as liaison to the casinos.

"He told me he realized the frustration level the casino employees are at and (the agency) welcomes the opportunity to make things right,'' Martin said.

Florida craft retailer denied BP claim will go homeless to try to keep her business. It makes no sense why neighboring businesses received their claims and this claim was denied. BP victims deserve specific explanations as to why their claims are being denied or reduced. - h/t Yasuragi

A denied BP claim is causing a Naples business owner to start the new year homeless.

Candi Cook says her retail business, Candi’s Creative Crafts, in Tin City on Fifth Avenue South has lost $25,000 as a result of the BP oil spill.
...
Cook, a 36-year-old single mother who has been struggling financially, says the only option to save her business is giving up her home. She’s planning to live in her truck or with friends because she can’t afford to pay for her bills and business expenses.

She’s also planning to send her 16-year-old son to live with his grandmother in North Florida.

“I am at my wits end,” Cook said.

She is in debt with vendors and two months behind on rent.

Cook, who has owned her business since 2008, doesn’t understand why the Gulf Coast Claims Facility approved three other businesses’ claims located in the same facility as her store yet denied her claim.

Florida retailers hit up BP for a $16 to $25 million dollar sales tax holiday. It would be more impressive if the Florida Retail Federation would help retailers with their BP claims before putting out their hands for such broad-based largesse.

The Florida Retail Federation is working with BP executives to forge a series of weekend tax holidays in 2011 to help rebuild businesses in Northwest Florida affected by the spill.

Federation CEO Rick McAllister said if BP agrees to the plan, the tax holidays would go into effect monthly through the spring and summer tourist seasons in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Bay counties.
...
If implemented, the tax holiday plan is expected to cost BP between $16 million and $25 million.

BP oil spill tops Twitter's 2010 list. The traditional news media seemed to be oblivious of this with their shallow, lackadaisical coverage.

Top 10 Twitter Trends of 2010
1. Gulf Oil Spill

  1. FIFA World Cup
  1. Inception
  1. Haiti Earthquake
  1. Vuvuzela
  1. Apple iPad
  1. Google Android
  1. Justin Bieber
  1. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows
  1. Pulpo Paul

BP tops Fineman 2010 PR blunders list.

1.  BP Execs Pass the Buck
All eyes were on British Petroleum this year for its role in the protracted oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. Although credited by some public relations professionals for speaking out early and often, CEO Tony Hayward hurt BP's corporate image by downplaying the damage and issuing thoughtless sound bites, including "it wasn't our accident" and "I just want my life back" …after 11 workers lost their lives in the explosion of oil rig Deepwater Horizon.  But according to The Wall Street Journal, replacement CEO Bob Dudley continued courting backlash by accusing media and competing oil companies of "a rush to judgment" in condemning BP's crisis response and refusing to testify before a congressional committee. U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey, head of that committee, fired back, saying that "BP is continuing to point the finger at everyone but themselves. Since this disaster began, BP has stood for 'Blame Passed.'"

BP rejects Pakistani government's bid for assets. It's hard to figure out exactly what financial reality might actually be. Last week the Pakistani court took a dim view of Pakistan buying BP assets at an exorbitant price.

The bid from Pakistan Petroleum Ltd. (PPL) and Oil & Gas Development Co. (OGDC) for BP's (NYSE:BP) Pakistan assets was informally rejected by the oil giant.

BP had announced in July that it was going to put its Pakistani assets up for sale to raise capital to build up its liability fund related to the Gulf oil spill.

There were apparently other bids on the table, and they were obviously more attractive than the one offered by the two largest exploration companies based in Pakistan.

BP Sells Pakistan Assets to China UEG for $775 Million

BP Plc sold fields in Pakistan to Hong Kong-based investment group United Energy Group Ltd. as part of its plan to pay for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

UEG will pay $775 million in cash, including a $100 million deposit, and the deal is expected to close in the first half of 2011, BP said today in a statement in London. The net production of the assets is about 35,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day.

The sale brings BP closer to its goal of disposing of as much as $30 billion of assets worldwide after the worst U.S. oil spill forced the company to set aside $40 billion for cleanup and litigation. The company has divested about $21 billion of fields so far.

Court dismisses Alaska's tax claim against BP

An Alaska judge has dismissed the state's claim that BP owes several hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues the state claims it lost when the Prudhoe Bay oil field was partially shut down in 2006 because of a BP oil spill.

The state's claims that it deserved compensation for lost taxes are not supported or defined in law as recoverable economic damages, State Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski said in an order issued Friday but only widely noticed on Tuesday.
...
Still to be resolved are the state's claims for lost oil royalties, spill fines and other damages. A 2012 trial date has been set for the case.

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:

12-13-10 15:13:15Gulf Watchers Monday - Feinberg Bribing Spill Victims? - BP Catastrophe AUV #441shanesnana
12-12-10 09:58:41Gulf Watchers Sunday - BP's Destruction of Gulf Coast Continues - BP Catastrophe AUV #440Yasuragi
12-10-10 19:25:42Gulf Watchers Block Party: Johnny Clegg: The White ZuluYasuragi
12-10-10 08:25:58Gulf Watchers Friday - Double Inspections, For Now - BP Catastrophe AUV #439Lorinda Pike
12-06-10 16:52:00Gulf Watchers Wednesday - BP Contractor Thumbs Nose at Commission - BP Catastrophe AUV #438peraspera
12-06-10 16:52:00Gulf Watchers Monday - Government Estimate of Oil Flow Way Off, says BP - BP Catastrophe AUV #437shanesnana
12-05-10 08:36:57Gulf Watchers Sunday - WikiLeaks to Target BP - BP Catastrophe AUV #436Yasuragi
12-03-10 18:29:02Gulf Watchers Block Party---Duende; Say what????Phil S 33
12-03-10 08:04:57Gulf Watchers Friday - Drop Back and Punt - BP Catastrophe AUV #435Lorinda Pike

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 peraspera on Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 03:00 AM PST.

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