You are in the current Gulf Watchers BP Catastrophe - AUV #469. ROV #468 is here.
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Gulf Watchers Diary Schedule
Monday - evening drive time
Wednesday - morning
Friday - morning
Friday Block Party - evening
Sunday - morning
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|Justice Department bears down on BP's Gulf Coast Claims Facility and administrator Feinberg
In a "bluntly worded" letter to Ken Feinberg, Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli made clear that it's not Feinberg's job to be tightfisted with BP's GCCF money. His job, in fact, is to distribute it fairly among the Gulf residents hurt by the spill.
Perrelli is the third-ranking official in the Justice Department and the man overseeing the Department's case against BP.
Perrelli's letter stated that "The impact of the spill on the lives of the people of the Gulf cannot be overstated," saying that Feinberg's meting out of the fund was far too miserly; that not only were those directly harmed by the spill entitled, but also those communities where "pervasive" effects of the Macondo disaster had an impact "on the overall economy."
Feinberg has only paid out about $3.5 billion of the fund's $20 billion. Perrelli urged Feinberg to unclench his fists and stop worrying about BP's money.
Any money not paid out in claims by the Facility goes back into BP's coffers. Doesn't help the look of things, either, that BP dipped into the fund themselves to pay $10 million to some unidentified buddies of theirs. (For details, see Wednesday's AUV.)
While Feinberg told the AP, in a phone interview, that he'd consider Justice's advice, he didn't indicate any upcoming changes in the process by which funds are distributed.
Feinberg's dubious commitment to those whose lives and livelihoods have been decimated by the BP torrent of oil is well documented here. Of the roughly 485,000 claims filed, half have been denied, either for insufficient documentation or for (without explanation) being deemed "ineligible."
Perrelli told Feinberg the issue was "a matter of urgency."
|BP royalty payments in Gulf spill face scrutiny
BP's fines to the Department of the Interior and payments to a non-profit environmental organization were based on the amount of oil recovered and the price of oil at the time. BP had committed to pay any money it made from sale of the recovered oil to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The figures BP used to determine those earnings are now being called into question.
Of course, whatever amount the DoI and BP are quibbling over, it's small fry compared to clean-up and recovery costs to be paid by BP. Still, typically, Daren Beaudo, spokesman for BP, denies any inaccuracy in the royalties and donations.
|What about those oil spill estimates?
Few concerned have been satisfied by the 5,000-barrel-a-day figure, feeling it was a gross underestimation of the amount of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days.
Now, scientist Ian MacDonald of Florida State University has come up with some insights into how that number was reached, and how very wrong it is. Back in May, he wrote a Times editorial with colleagues that posited the inaccuracy of the flow measurements. Now he's documented those findings in a paper.
As we here well know, after thousands of bleary-eyed hours of watching, BP had cameras trained on the volcano of oil pouring out of the broken (and later cut) riser. When Congressman Markey demanded that BP make those feeds public, many who watched questioned the 5,000-barrel-a-day estimate.
|But wait: there's more
|Maybe if Dudley ignores it, it'll go away
Bob Dudley is working his overpaid ass off these days hyping the idea that BP, under his recently attained stewardship, is all about safety. Nothing but safety.
Oh, and profits.
He's not quite the salesman he was cracked up to be when hired to fill Tony Hayward's top-siders.
That "single problem" Dudley referred to was quite the issue. "Every day we operate safely we earn more trust, but a single problem could jeopardize the recovery," Dudley e-mailed his staff back in October. So far, few seem to be focused on the trust BP has earned, while many are alarmed at continuing safety issues.
|BP looks to offload its albatross
Along with its Carson City, CA refinery, BP plans to dump its Texas City, TX refinery, where fifteen workers died and another 140 were injured in an explosion. BP says they're offloading the refineries to raise money to pay for the Gulf spill. Assuming those sales go through, it leaves their Whiting, Indiana refinery as their largest such facility. Of course, despite spending $3.8 billion on upgrades and expansion, they've yet to turn the ignition key. Seems there are delays due to... safety concerns. It's déjà vu all over again.
And just this past Thursday:
That's not the end of the neighborhood's worries.
|Safety Troubles for BP in the North Sea
Lest we think BP only trashes countries not of its origin, the mother country is none too pleased with their safety practices, either.
|BP investors turn on Dudley, others
A group of BP investors have filed a derivative claim against BP, accusing their high-level officers of being more concerned with cutting budgets than improving safety, and ignoring "red flags" leading up to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon.
Typically, BP spokesman Daren Beaudo was unavailable for comment.
The article excerpted here is outstanding, and well worth reading in full.
Last week Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange bumped out the two plaintiff's law firms who brought what was at the time the only suit against BP, replacing them with himself. The firms were hired by the man who previously held Strange's seat, Troy King. As a candidate, Strange had publicly stated that he doubted the efficacy of a suit against BP, and that he felt King had rushed into it. Now he says he believes it's the right thing to do, based on the Justice Department's intent to bring civil charges against the company.
The problem is that Strange has deep and lasting ties to Transocean, named alongside BP in the suit now being adjudicated by US District Judge Carl Barbier.
Strange was a lobbyist for the oil industry, representing Transocian in 1998.
|Blob of Glup found off Florida Panhandle
Scientists haven't yet been able to determine whether it's a result of the Macondo well blowout, but have so far been unable to detect any oil in it.
The mass was found while Hollander and other scientists were checking the sea floor for oil left by the Deepwater Horizon spill and received a tip about something strange off Perdido Pass. The group is planning to revisit the mass again in a few weeks to check its progress. On their first trip, they didn't have the equipment necessary to reach the bottom of the glup, where sediments might have offered more information about its formation.
The floor of the Gulf is being examined like never before, as scientists track what happened to oil from BP's high-pressure multi-billion dollar prospect that became the worst ecological disaster in US history.
|TNK-BP, Roseneft, and the Kremlin
It's all very cozy and warm between BP and Rosneft. Out in the cold, however, are BP's partners in their other Russian holdings, TNK-BP. Four billionaires (Alfa-Access-Renova or AAR) are co-owners in TNK-BP, which is responsible for a staggering full third of all BP's annual output.
While maintaining BP is not guilty of any wrongdoing (or outright betrayal), Bob Dudley has made comments to the effect that resolution may lie in that salve for all ruffled oligarch feathers: cold hard cash. He brushed off AAR's legal actions against BP as merely a "time out," and stated that everything was hunky-dory between BP and their absurdly wealthy partners.
That's what Smooth Bob says, anyway. Others have let it be known that it's nowhere near that friendly behind closed doors, but that both sides will work it out and TNK-BP will weather this storm.
Rosneft has denied holding talks with AAR, in spite of the fact that it's been reported to the Russian media by several sources.
This isn't the first time Smooth Bob has ticked off his Russian associates. While in charge of TNK-BP in 2008, he was chased out of Russia and into hiding.
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:
|2-02-11 06:00:00||Gulf Watchers - EPA Caving to BP on Spill Size - BP Catastrophe AUV #467||peraspera|
|1-31-11 17:03:26||Gulf Watchers - Crisis in Egypt to spur Return to Drilling? - BP Catastrophe AUV #466||shanesnana|
|1-30-11 24:44:01||Gulf Watchers - Where BP Goes, Disaster Follows - BP Catastrophe AUV #465||Yasuragi|
|1-28-11 18:24:32||Gulf Watchers Block Party - What's So Funny?||ursoklevar|
Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.
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