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Unbelievable! Republican Congressman Jeff Landry of Louisiana calls for an immediate return to offshore drilling because of the Egyptian crisis.

Amid the continuing unrest in Egypt and the speculation of a Suez Canal shutdown – causing the largest single day increase in the price of crude oil since 2009, Congressman Jeff Landry (Republican, LA-03) has called on the President to allow domestic oil and gas drillers to get back to work immediately in order to lower the price at the pump.

"How high will the Egyptian crisis push gas prices before the President abandons his merit-less permitorium and allows domestic drillers to go back to work? And how many Americans will have to lose their jobs before we find out?" posed Landry. "I don’t want to know. On Monday, I want to see Coastal Louisianans allowed back to work finding and recovering our domestic energy sources."

"With the President’s permitorium on domestic offshore drilling causing America to become even more dependent on foreign oil, I once again call on the President to enact a robust domestic energy policy right away," said Landry. "Every day we fail to utilize our own energy resources in the Gulf of Mexico and across America is a day our economy is held captive to clashes in Egypt, dictators in Venezuela, or terrorists in Western Africa."

"At any point in time, a conflict in the Middle East can erupt and hold our economy hostage because the President is fantasizing about an oil-free green energy policy," Landry continued. "Allowing production to occur in the Gulf of Mexico again will help alleviate the economic crisis of a Suez Canal shutdown and prevent Americans from waiting in long lines to pay 5 dollars a gallon for gas."

Politics at his worst. The amount of oil that passed through the Suez Canal in one day last year was roughly equivalent to the yearly output of the Gulf of Mexico Tankers being forced to carry oil around the tip of Africa would add considerable transit costs and raise the price of gasoline.



A Florida Republican tries to block drilling off Florida coast. Representative Vern Buchanan, representing western Florida, introduced a bill in Congress that would block Cuba from drilling off of its northern coast, 50 miles from Florida. The deepwater well is to be drilled by the Spanish company Respol, using a Chinese built rig.

The proposal would treat Cuba's drilling industry kind of like Iran's sanctioned energy sector. It would empower the U.S. interior secretary to deny an oil-and-gas lease, or exploration permit, to any company dealing with a country under U.S. sanction or embargo.

Though vague, the language is directed at Spanish oil-and-gas firm Repsol, which is heading up Cuba's new oil plans. The issue troubling Buchanan is that Cuba is looking to drill for oil even deeper than BP's Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded last April and sent millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf. Not only would Cuba's well be deeper -- at 5,600 feet compared to 5,000 feet -- but Buchanan said it would be at the edge of Cuba's territorial waters, 50 miles from the Florida coast.
***
For the new rig, the United States could not directly block Cuba from drilling in its own waters. But under Buchanan's bill the U.S. could threaten Repsol's projects elsewhere in U.S. territory. The company operates rigs near Texas and Louisiana. With his bill, Buchanan wants to compel Repsol to abandon the Cuba drilling to protect its other assets.

The company earlier backed off a natural gas project in Iran after facing pressure from the United States over Iran's nuclear program.

Respol Is currently under investigation by a Spanish court over a spill into the Mediterranean.

Both Cuban and Mexican drilling could endanger the Gulf. William Reilly, head of the President's Oil Spill Commission, would Obama to push for a treaty agreement between Cuba, Mexico and the United States.

Cuba has leased tracts 50 miles off the Florida coast and has plans for seven exploratory wells by 2014, the commission said in a Jan. 11 report. Petroleos Mexicanos, Latin America’s largest oil producer, intends to auction deep-water contracts as early as 2012.

"Mexico would very much like a treaty," Reilly said. "We recommend an agreement among the three countries on best practices."
***
Reilly said he has met with Mexico’s offshore-drilling regulator and that U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has discussed the issue with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Repsol YPF SA, Spain’s largest oil company, and OAO Gazprom Neft, the oil unit of Russia’s state-controlled gas producer,[both have Cuban leases] "have either drilled exploratory and production wells or are likely soon to do so," according to the commission’s report.  


Russians don't trust BP As Russia invites foreign oil companies to join with their state-controlled producers, gaining needed technology for difficult to produce areas, it is considering asking for money "up front" to cover the costs of capping a well in the event something goes wrong. (What? With BP at the helm?)

Russia may require oil producers tapping offshore deposits to set aside cash to cover damages from possible spills as OAO Rosneft and BP Plc seek to explore for Arctic resources.

"The figures will depend on the scale of activity at offshore fields," Denis Khramov, a Natural Resources Ministry official, told reporters today in St. Petersburg. "One amount if it’s just about drilling one well, and another amount if it’s about drilling 10 wells."

BP has set aside $40 billion to pay for damage after its Macondo well leaked crude into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days last year, the worst spill in U.S. history. State-run Rosneft plans to explore in the Kara Sea with BP and the Black Sea with Chevron Corp. as traditional onshore fields age. Russia, the world’s largest oil producer, aims to keep output at 10 million barrels a day for at least a decade.

"We don’t have the technologies to extract oil in these conditions, not even to mention to contain possible spills below the heavy ice cover," said Artem Konchin, an oil analyst at UniCredit SpA in Moscow. A fund would probably cover the potential costs of sealing wells if equipment fails, he said.

The ministry has submitted draft legislation to the government for review, Khramov said.

BP will not abandon North America, CEO Dudley is expected to reassure us when he announces 4th quarter earnings.

OIL giant BP is this week expected to stress the importance of its US business despite signing a deal with Russia's state-owned Rosneft which has been criticized by some American policy makers.

BP's American-born chief executive Bob Dudley will say the group is committed to the US following the storm of controversy after the Gulf disaster that claimed 11 lives and led to the ousting of his predecessor Tony Hayward.

One industry source said: "Expect Bob to emphasise the continuing importance of North America.
"The last thing he will want to suggest is that BP's future is with Rosneft in Russia."

At a presentation of fourth- quarter figures, Dudley is also expected to reaffirm the group's commitment to its "downstream" business, including refining, following years of tough trading in the division.

One analyst said: "Some in the industry question the sector's integrated oil model of upstream exploration and development, and downstream.

"Arguably downstream has only had three good years, from 2004 to 2006, in the past 20 years.

"But it is still more likely Dudley would not like to preside over such an obvious retreat in BP's strategic footprint."

Those 4th quarter figures will be unveiled tomorrow, the same day that TNK-BP investors begin legal action in a London court to stop the $16 billion dollar transfer of shares to the Russian company Rosneft.


Feinberg again makes promises, this time to the Indian tribes of the bayou. Some 20,000 Native American, descendants of the Houma, Chitimacha, Choctaw and Biloxi tribes, live in coastal Louisiana today. Many tribes moved to the swamps to avoid enslavement or banishment when Congress passed the 1830 Indian Removal Act.  Most remained isolated from whites until the 1950's and the children were banned from schools until the 1960's. Their way of life had already been threatened by social change and loss of coastal wetlands secondary to the Army Corps of Engineers construction of levees and canals dug by oil companies.

Now, Indians who've known nothing but fishing all their lives find their futures tied to the man handing out checks for damages, paid from a multibillion-dollar fund started after the April 20 Gulf spill.

Kenneth Feinberg, the fast-talking East Coast lawyer in charge of BP PLC's $20 billion compensation fund, met with them for the first time Friday night on the back bayous of south Louisiana at a gymnasium in Montegut, about an hour and a half from New Orleans. Dozens of fishermen showed up in shrimp boots and work clothes, speaking a mixture of French and English.

They want Feinberg to compensate them not just for lost wages, but a way of life that relied on the bounty of the marshes and now is in jeopardy.

"The people have been independent for so long, a lot of them will go trawling, they'll bring an ice chest (of seafood) to maman, grandpa, auntie, the uncles and all that," said Thomas Dardar, the principal chief of the United Houma Nation, the largest Indian tribe with about 17,000 members. "With the oil, how long will it last? Oil isn't like a hurricane," he said. "You can't just pick up after it's over. The Indians in Alaska after Exxon-Valdez tell us they've been dealing with the oil for 20 years."

***
Feinberg told those at his first meeting with Indian tribes Friday that he wanted to pay them claims for the value seafood and hunting plays in their everyday lives — so-called "subsistence claims."

"It's a claim that my lifestyle has been adversely impacted by my inability to any longer live off the resources that I hunt or catch," he said. "... What I could go hunt or fish I now have to go buy.

"Those claims should be paid.

Feinberg has made many promises, including the one for greater transparency. Wednesday is the day he has promised,this time for real, to disclose his methodology for compensation of claims.


Last Thursday Feinberg testified before a Senate subcommittee, assuring them that he is trying to do the right thing, that delays in making the methodology public was because he was "trying to get it right. He is talking about the method by which final payments will be determined, but what good will that be to those whose emergency claims were denied, or underpaid?

Facing critical questioning by a handful of senators on the Homeland Security Committee's Disaster Recovery Subcommittee, Feinberg acknowledged that his operation has had some difficulty ensuring payments are uniform, and promised that next Tuesday he would post on the GCCF website new methodologies for calculating interim and final payments.

But Feinberg has failed to deliver on that promise before.

Two weeks ago he told The Times-Picayune that the methodologies would be available by this week. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., also said Thursday that Feinberg promised last month to disclose the calculation methods, but has yet to keep his word.

Feinberg acknowledged that he is a month late, but said he's still trying to understand what kind of future losses the spill is going to inflict, a speculative and difficult endeavor.

"The reason, Sen. Shelby, that it took longer than I promised you, I've got to get this right," Feinberg said.
***
Ve Nguyen, a Plaquemines Parish fisher, also testified and complained about the problems Feinberg has had paying subsistence claims. The GCCF has received more than 16,000 claims of a loss of subsistence, a particularly important issue for Vietnamese fishers, some of whom consume and barter a portion of their commercial catch. Only 15 subsistence claims have been paid.

Nguyen, who delivered his remarks through an interpreter, asked Feinberg why GCCF's internal appeals process is available only to those who receive at least $250,000.

Feinberg said that any claimant has the right to appeal to the Coast Guard's National Pollution Funds Center, and he limited his own appeal panel's purview because of concerns about delaying the process.

Craig Bennett, head of the Coast Guard center, said his organization is authorized by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and stands ready to hear any appeals challenging the GCCF's determinations. The Coast Guard center has received just 507 appeals. All 200 that have been adjudicated were denied, Bennett said.


Subsistence claims would be the best way for fishermen to get compensation. These are the same type of claims that he told the Native Americans on Friday should be paid. But as the article has pointed out, only 15 of these claims have been paid since the beginning of the process, and 14 of those fell in the under$5000 category. Feinberg says that he set the appeal limit to claims over$250,000 to simplify things, others can appeal to the Coast Guard. All the appeals adjudicated by them have been denied!
Data on what the GCCF has actually paid out is available here.



I have tried to understand and make sense of Feinberg's process and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, I really have. In my cyberspace searches for information I came across a really interesting blog by one Drake Toulouse, a social worker, called Disenfranchised Citizen His latest commentary of Feinberg says it so much better than I could.

I’ve commented often that many officials should do something about Feinberg and his claims process, from the Justice Department to Congress to Barack Obama...but, I’ve been forgetting someone, or something. Call me crazy, but...wanna know who really has the power to see to it Feinberg makes fair and just payments to anyone directly and indirectly harmed by this spill, to make sure the payments are truly fair enough to keep people out of the courts?

Simple.

British Petroleum.

Yeah, I know...why would a company who has been conveniently using Feinberg as the fall guy to hide behind suddenly step up and do anything to improve the claims process?

Good question.

How about...because that is what they promised to do, made commercials to show they were doing, spoke about in press conferences, in interviews, to anyone who would listen...a promise to make things right.

British Petroleum could make sure everyone who needs it gets adequate health care. They could make sure subsistence claims are paid, that it is easy for people to understand forms. British Petroleum could make sure interim payments and final payments err on the side of being generous, that the process is completely transparent, that everyone has enough to eat, that nobody has to lose a business, a house, a family.

British Petroleum has the power to do all of this, and they said they would when they made their famous PR promise.

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:



1-30-11 24:44:01Gulf Watchers - Where BP Goes, Disaster Follows - BP Catastrophe AUV #465Yasuragi
1-28-11 18:24:32Gulf Watchers Block Party - What's So Funny?ursoklevar
1-28-11 08:42:13Gulf Watchers Friday - Quiet Desperation - BP Catastrophe AUV #464Lorinda Pike
1-26-11 06:00:00Gulf Watchers - BP Accused of Racketeering - BP Catastrophe AUV #463peraspera

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 Jan 31, 2011 at 02:03 PM PST.

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