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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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Companies say they are owed millions for BP work

It's hardly surprising that BP is adding their subcontractors to the long list of its victims. If BP's prime contractors aren't making timely payments to its subs it is BP's complete responsibility to see that immediate action is taking rather than blowing off the problem with lip service.

I hope some state's attorney generals will take a serious look at charging BP and its prime contractors with fraud.

Several companies that were hired to help BP respond to the massive oil spill claim the company or one of its contractors owes them millions of dollars for their work.

Ricky Myers, who owns Rhino Construction in Bay St. Louis, Miss., said Tuesday that BP contractor O'Brien's Response Management owes him $650,000 for his company's work cleaning up beaches and barrier islands after the spill.
...
"I figure it's BP trying to worm out of paying," said Matthew Creel, who owns a Carriere, Miss.-based excavation company.

BP spokeswoman Heidi Feick said the company is working with its major contractors "to provide support as necessary."
...
Creel said he is owed $60,000 — about 30 percent of the work his company performed.

"It's got me in a bad bind," he said.

Myers said much of the money owed is "retainage," or money that is withheld until the quality of a subcontractor's work can be verified. Myers said the retainage money was supposed to be paid within two weeks of the work's completion, but some companies have been waiting for months to get any of that money.
...
Mike Cook, executive vice president of EMR Inc. of Lawrence, Kansas, said his company is owed more than $2 million for environmental monitoring and other services it provided after the spill.

"I've never been in a situation where you have to wait a year to get your money," he said. "We keep being told progress is being made, but another 30 days go by and nothing happens."


UK wooed Gadhafi before Lockerbie bomber freed

There were a few stories about the British government's report clearing itself of meddling in Scottish affairs to seek the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdulbaset Ali al-Megrahi, but Michael Isikoff's comprehensive piece is by far the best.

The long and short of it is that BP and the British government did backflips for Ghadafi selling out the Lockerbie victims for lucrative Libyan contracts. Click through to read vomit-inducing quotes from Brown's letters to Ghadhafi.

Internal British government documents provide revealing new details about how that country’s last two prime ministers — Tony Blair and Gordon Brown — sought to curry favor with Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi in an effort to smooth the way for hundreds of millions of dollars in commercial contracts with oil giant BP and two big British defense firms.

Those efforts ultimately prompted Brown’s government to “do all it could” to try to win the release of Abdulbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the former Libyan intelligence agent convicted of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland on Dec. 21, 1988, killing 270 people, according to an official British report released Monday.
...
Those “consequences,” the documents show, were Libyan threats to cut off several lucrative British commercial contracts, including a $900 million oil exploration deal that BP had signed with Gadhafi’s government in 2007 as well as contracts by two big defense firms, General Dynamics UK and MBDA, to provide “tactical communications” and other equipment for  an air defense system for Libya.
...
Once they were unable to secure Megrahi’s  release as part of a prisoner transfer agreement (PTA) with Libya, British officials effectively coached the Libyans on how they could gain freedom for the terrorist by emphasizing to the Scots that he was dying of prostate cancer and had only three months to live.
...
The new disclosures in the report prompted angry reactions Monday from members of Congress who have repeatedly denounced British and Scottish officials for covering up the commercial interests that led to Megrahi’s release.
...
Still, the new material is likely to further enrage family members in the U.S. and other critics of the Megrahi decision, if only because it starkly shows how much business interests weighed on the minds of British officials as they dealt with the fate of a man who Cameron told the House of Commons had been convicted of the “the largest mass murder in British history.”
...
One apparent factor: lobbying by BP officials, including Mark Allen, a consultant to the oil giant who had previously served as one of  the Britain’s top Mideast experts in MI-6, the country’s intelligence service.

A Nov. 19, 2007, document records a meeting that day in which Allen and Michael Daly, chief of BP’s exploration division, met with Simon McDonald, Brown’s chief foreign policy adviser,  and asked “about progress in (Her Majesty’s Government) support of the BP contract.” Allen “emphasized the financial (material blacked out) and opportunity costs of delay,” while Daly “outlined political access (to Brown’s government) as a key issue for BP.”


Sierra Club wants to join U.S. suit in BP spill

The government is joining BP and Transocean in opposing having the Sierra Club join in its suit. Given some highly questionable conduct during the spill there is a strong case to be made that the public would be well-served by having some environmentalists at the lawsuit table.

The Sierra Club hits the nail on the head with its assertion that the government is implicated in some of the damage from the BP's black monster due to it's own questionable decision-making. I don't know if the Sierra Club's petition has a snowball's chance in Haders of succeeding but it would be wonderful to have some people wearing white hats looking over the government's shoulder.

The Sierra Club asked to join the U.S. lawsuit seeking billions of dollars in fines and restoration costs from BP over damages from the worst offshore oil spill in the nation's history.
...
The government opposes Sierra Club's intervention, as do BP and Transocean, according to the environmentalists' petition. Units of Anadarko and Mitsui Offshore Exploration, another BP well partner, declined to take a position on the Sierra Club's request until the companies had time to review it.

The environmental group said it wants "a seat at the table" to ensure that maximum penalties are assessed against BP and that all the money recovered goes "directly to Gulf Coast restoration," the organization said in its statement.

The Sierra Club "has an interest in ensuring that the responsible parties are held fully accountable for the damages to these natural resources and assessing maximum penalties that will deter future acts by these defendants and others," the organization said in the court filing.

The Sierra Club "can make arguments in support of the penalties that the Justice Department will not make because doing so would implicate the federal government in the disaster," according to its statement.

"The federal government is under scrutiny for approving BP's grossly inadequate oil spill response plan" and for allowing BP to "overuse damaging oil dispersants following the spill," the group said.


Gulf of Mexico oil spill signals need for more investment in green technology, activists say

It is a disappointment that there isn't any video online from this conference. I would have particularly liked to have heard more of what the Chemical Safety Board's chairman had to say. They are a very small group which has been relentless in dogging the BP forensic investigation.

The most common refrain coming from Louisiana's political representatives in Washington is that overreaction to the Deepwater Horizon disaster has stifled an otherwise worthy and indispensable industry in the Gulf.

But that was decidedly not the message delivered Tuesday at the opening day of a three-day Green Jobs conference sponsored by a "Blue Green Alliance" of labor unions and environmentalists -- led by the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club -- who see the disaster as a clarion call for greater investments in green technology.

"Why did we put all our eggs in the oil and gas industry basket? Why haven't we diversified our economy?" asked Jordan Macha, whose title -- Gulf Coast Beyond Oil Regional Representative for the Sierra Club -- encapsulates her uphill mission.
...
Other panelists included Michael Wright, director of Health, Safety and the Environment for the United Steelworkers, which represents some oil industry workers, especially at refineries. He seconded the idea that a unionized workforce can, as the Steelworkers do, press for safety improvements as part of their collective bargaining agreements.
...
Moure-Eraso [chairman and CEO of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board] said he could not comment on his board's ongoing probe of the accident, but he noted that the oil industry represents an outsized proportion of the disasters it has to investigate -- mostly at refineries -- even though oil companies are a small portion of the chemical industry that falls within his board's jurisdiction.

"This is an industry in which catastrophic failures seem to be concentrated," he said, suggesting that perhaps it has something to do with what he has found to be chairman and CEO of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board

Joseph "Chip" Hughes Jr., program director for the Worker Education and Training Program of the National Institute of Environmental Health, who was in the Gulf during the crisis, said "the saddest thing for me was the people -- fishermen, shrimpers, oystermen -- not only did they lose their way of life and their economic support and their emotional support, but the way they were drafted as cleanup workers."
"This was the most tragic part of all -- the worst double whammy you could imagine,"
he said.
...
Hughes said cleanup workers in the Gulf were often dispatched without adequate training or preparation, and that the 40 hours of training that NIEH can provide was clipped to four hours because of the emergency.
"It was déjà vu all over again," said Hughes, who said the same thing happened in the World Trade Center cleanup.

...
Beverly Wright, director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University, also said the eight Gulf Coast solid waste landfills where oil wastes from the disaster are being disposed -- five in Louisiana -- are all located near poor, minority communities.

The opening plenary session of the conference struck the theme that, as Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, put it, "the old idea that Americans must choose between good jobs and a healthy environment is dead."
...
Apropos the fight to come, when EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson came to the podium to speak she was presented with a pair of boxing gloves by Steelworkers President Leo Gerard. Tuesday was Jackson's birthday.


District Court Sets Ground Rules For BP’s Communications With Oil Spill Claimants

This was blogged by an attorney hustling business but it does a great job of laying out the key points of Judge Barbier's recent February 2 ruling concerning the Gulf Coast Claims Facility run by Kenneth Feinberg. The disastrous mess that the GCCF has become cries out for legislation to establish a truly independent process to compensate victims both fairly and quickly.

As described earlier, the motion asserted that the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), its administrator Ken Feinberg, and Feinberg’s law firm Feinberg Rozen LLP, were not independent decisionmakers as to claims filed by oil spill victims under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
...
The Plaintiffs’ motion challenged the notion that putative class members were being asked to, among other things:  execute a full release of all defendants, not just BP; release claims for punitive damages and other relief not recognized by the GCCF; and release the claims of spouses, minors, and their business interests.  This, despite the fact that BP and GCCF had, according to the motion, confusingly represented the GCCF as “independent” and urged putative class members not to retain counsel.
'
...
Judge Barbieri rejected BP’s argument that the GCCF, Mr. Feinberg, and Feinberg Rozen, LLP were fully “independent” of BP.  The Court found instead that BP had created a hybrid entity, rather than one that was fully independent of BP.   In particular, the Court said, while BP may have delegated to Mr. Feinberg and the GCCF independence in the evaluation and payment of individual claims, many other facts supported a finding that the GCCF and Mr. Feinberg were not completely “neutral” or independent of.

Such facts included that Mr. Feinberg was appointed by BP, without input from opposing claimants or the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, and without an order from the Court, so that he is not a true third-party neutral such as a mediator, arbitrator, or court- appointed special master; BP pays Mr. Feinberg and his law firm a flat fee each month, pursuant to a written contract which outlines his duties and responsibilities in great detail; BP decided the amount and manner in which it funded the GCCF; BP agreed to “indemnify, defend, and hold harmless” Feinberg Rozen, LLP as to any actions by any person relating to or arising from the operation of the GCCF; and BP retains the ability to audit Feinberg Rozen, LLP so long as the firm retains information about claimants.

The clear record in this case demonstrates that any claim of the GCCF’s neutrality and independence is misleading to putative class members and is a direct threat to this ongoing litigation, as claimants must sign a full release against all potential defendants before obtaining final payments.  – Judge Carl J. Barbier

Concluding that the Court had authority to supervise or control certain communications with potential class members, and that such supervision or control did not run afoul of pertinent First Amendment concerns, Judge Barbier ordered that BP, through its agents Ken Feinberg, Feinberg Rozen LLP, and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, and any of their representatives, in any of their communications with claimants, shall:

Refrain from contacting directly any claimant that they know or reasonably should know is represented by counsel, whether or not said claimant has filed a lawsuit or formal claim;

Refrain from referring to the GCCF, Ken Feinberg, or Feinberg Rozen, LLP (or their representatives), as “neutral” or completely “independent” from BP. It should be clearly disclosed in all communications, whether written or oral, that said parties are acting for and on behalf of BP in fulfilling its statutory obligations as the “responsible party” under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

Begin any communication with a putative class member with the statement that the individual has a right to consult with an attorney of his/her own choosing prior to accepting any settlement or signing a release of legal rights.

Refrain from giving or purporting to give legal advice to unrepresented claimants, including advising that claimants should not hire a lawyer.

Fully disclose to claimants their options under OPA if they do not accept a final payment, including filing a claim in the pending multidistrict litigation.

Advise claimants that the “pro bono” attorneys and “community representatives” retained to assist GCCF claimants are being compensated directly or indirectly by BP.

In addition, the Court ended its order by directing the parties to submit additional briefing as to whether and how BP, as the responsible party, is fully complying with the mandates of the Oil Pollution Act.


Editorial: Final claims proposal is disappointing

The Mississippi Press is underwhelmed with the GCCF's final payment methodology.

WE MIGHT be Bubbas down here in the Deep South, but we know when we've been had.

Under the plan, Mr. Feinberg said he'd give most individuals and businesses twice their 2010 losses as a final settlement. On the face of it, that sounds generous -- until you read the fine print. Whatever you've already received for last year's loss will be subtracted from what you get.

In other words, most people won't get twice their 2010 losses, as promised, after all.

...
The estimates used for calculating final settlements undershoot the actual economic impact of the oil spill. An economist at Auburn University in Montgomery, Ala., went so far as to call the criteria "simplistic."

Why? Losses are based on 2008 and 2009 -- years considered to be part of the nation's Great Recession. We would argue that last year would have been part of the recovery -- in other words, a much better year for earnings. Claimants probably lost a lot more money during the oil spill than they would have lost in '08 or '09. But the plan's criteria won't show it.

Adding insult to injury, Mr. Feinberg presents his final settlement plan as a quick fix to a group of claimants who are already financially broke and mentally exhausted. Suffering and desperate, they are more likely to take whatever they can get. They're being steered away from interim payments, which can continue, but seem suspiciously slow to arrive.
...
On this issue, fortunately, the public can talk back. The Claims Facility has posted its final claims settlement plan online at www.gulfcoastclaimsfacility.com (See: "Announcement Regarding Payment Options, Eligibility.")

Take a look at Mr. Feinberg's plan, and form your own opinion. Then send your comments to him via e-mail at: MethodologyComments@gccf-claims.com.


Free legal assistance offered to claimants of BP oil spill

Help from Legal Services in the Pensacola area is a big step forward from the GCCF offering BP lawyers to its victims.

Legal Services of North Florida is participating in a network of nonprofit civil legal service organizations to provide free legal assistance to unrepresented claimants of the BP oil spill.
...
Legal assistance is offered independent of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.

Legal Services of North Florida's Pensacola office, which serves Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, may be reached at 432-8222.


Public comment period on oil spill claims methodology ends Feb. 16

I would note that the word "subsistence" is not found in the methodology document nor do I see any provisions for compensating impoverished Gulf coast residents who depend on fishing for a most of their diet. Their lives do not include a paper trail so they are invisible to the GCCF and left to suffer.

A public comment period regarding the methodology for the payment of final and interim claims arising out of the BP oil spill will end Feb. 16, according to a Feb. 7 Gulf Coast Claims Facility news release.

Kenneth R. Feinberg, GCCF administrator, announced today that more than 330 public comments have been received since Feb. 2 and posted on the facility website, and he is encouraging interested parties to continue taking advantage of this public comment period which runs until Feb. 16, according to the release.

The public comments pertain to the Payment Options, Eligibility and Substantiation Criteria and Final Payment Methodology for the payment of final and interim GCCF claims arising out of the BP oil spill. 

Comments should be forwarded to MethodologyComments@gccf-claims.com.
...
GCCF final and interim payments will begin after the public comment period, the release stated.

All comments received by the GCCF during the two-week public comment period will be posted for public view at www.gulfcoastclaimsfacility.com.


BP Clean Up, Lay-offs and Tar Balls

Cleanup workers in Gulf Shores, Alabama have been laid off with no notice with tar balls still coming ashore. It seems highly doubtful to me that government officials agreed to halt cleanup with tar balls the size of golf balls still washing ashore as claimed by BP. h/t Yasuragi

Workers laid off from BP's beach clean up teams say the loss of their job is anything but fair. The lay-offs happened Friday morning as they showed up for work and as more tar balls washed on shore.
...
If BP is doing a reduction in force because they believe the beaches are clean they obviously haven't been to this section of West Beach where examples of oil are easy to find.

Along with the shells at the tide line, tar balls the size of golf balls. "Yet, I stand here looking at my beach, the one I bring my kids to, my grandkids to and I think it still needs work."
...
Just before six o'clock this evening WKRG received this response to our request for an interview or statement on
the issues in this story.

Gulf Shores, AL - During the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill response, Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique (SCAT) teams have been patrolling the shorelines and overseeing cleanup operations as part of Operation Deep Clean. After progressing through months of successful daily cleanups, shorelines are now being re-inspected to ensure compliance with Shoreline Treatment Recommendation (STR) standards agreed upon by federal, state and local entities. Where STR benchmarks are met, maintenance and monitoring (M&M) response actions will be recommended as part of the multi-phase recovery and restoration plans that are currently in development.


BP lays off more workers as oil cleanup work lessens

I've never had the dubious honor of vacationing on an oiled beach so I'm quite puzzled as to what happens after the workers only clean up the tar balls in the morning. Are beach visitors left to contend with newly arrived tar balls during the day or do they only wash up at night?

Do BP and Alabama officials think that if there isn't heavy equipment and cleanup workers on the beach that people won't realize that oil on the beaches is an ongoing problem? In either case I find myself totally dumbfounded as to why anyone would wish to visit a beach where tar balls are washing ashore daily.

There is also a mention of officials considering a dress code for cleanup workers. I wonder what the hot fashion ticket is for distracting beach visitors from tar balls?

Large tractor equipment, scrubbing tar from beneath the surface of the sand for the past five months, is expected to be pulled from the city beaches in Baldwin County later this week.

By the end of the month, most of the equipment should also be out of sight from unincorporated areas of Baldwin County along the Fort Morgan peninsula.

And as the oil-spill cleanup lessens, BP PLC is laying off more and more workers contracted through the Mobile-based, debris-removal company CrowderGulf.

Officials in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have said they want the presence of the heavy equipment eliminated from the beaches before spring tourists arrive. In a recent public statement, BP said it was “reducing visible manpower and equipment” along the coast “where necessary and appropriate.”
...
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management has been tasked with determining whether the project is successful.
“So far, we have been very pleased with the cleanup activities,” Acreman said. “Maintenance and monitoring is what we’re about to shift to.”

That stage would involve teams being dispatched to the beach early each morning to check for tarballs and have them off the beach before most tourists hit the sand.


Slope family awarded $4.9 million for BP's use of land: Arctic Alaska

The Bureau of Indian Affairs cut a sweetheart deal with BP and other oil companies to cheat an Inupiat Eskimo family out of fees for use of their North Slope land. It is beyond despicable that the BIA forced this family to go to court to get money that was fairly due them rather than settling and promising to sin no more.

BP is currently looking at appealing the judge's decision and for ways to access the oil in alternate ways— undoubtedly looking for a new victim to cheat.

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that an Inupiat Eskimo family from Barrow is owed $4.9 million for unauthorized use of their North Slope land for oil production by BP.
...
The BIA approved BP's expanded use of the allotment without the family's consent, in violation of the family's contract with BP, according to last November's ruling in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims case. The Oengas had filed the civil case in 2005.
...
In an eight-day trial last July, the BIA and BP defended themselves against the Oenga claims. BP, which pays annual rent for some access rights, argued that no additional money was owed to the family. The BIA argued that the family's claims for unpaid rent were exorbitant.
...
"In the last two years, BP has pumped $35 million worth of oil from Raven, a lot more than what we are owed," said Tony Delia, one of the Oenga family members who sued the BIA.

"BP even let Exxon and ARCO use Oengas' land for a fee," the family's attorney, Ray Givens said in a press statement Tuesday. "Even when the Oengas specifically asked the BIA to take action, it refused to tell BP to stop the unauthorized use and refused to collect additional rents from BP for the authorized use."

Givens said BP also hasn't paid proper rent for its use of the allotment to access the Niakuk field. But those legal claims were not included in this federal case. That dispute is being handled within BIA for now.
..
BP Alaska spokesman Steve Rinehart said the company is reviewing the opinion and considering its legal options, including an appeal of the ruling. The company is also looking at other ways to access nearby oil fields than using the Oenga's allotment.


Tourist councils to get $25 million from BP

BP has shelled out quite a bit of money in different areas for promoting tourism. It just occurred to me that I haven't seen any TV ads which makes me wonder if anyone anywhere is riding herd on how the funds are being spent.

Local tourism officials expect a cut of $25 million in tourism marketing funds from BP that will be distributed to seven Panhandle counties this month.

Visit Pensacola officials plan to use the money for advertisement to draw spring and summer tourists.

This will be the third installment of marketing funds received from BP. The local tourist development councils received the first round in May 2010 and second installment in the late summer.


Oyster Industry Convention

The oyster business has taken a heavy punch in the gut from BP's black monster and people remain extremely uncertain about the future. I wonder if they are desperate enough to lobby Congress for meaningful, scientifically valid seafood testing.

So, at this year's Oyster Industry Convention the overwhelming question is; when will the bleeding stop?

It was a colossal change in tenor at this year's Louisiana Oyster Industry Convention, coming on the back of the BP oil spill, drawing a greater crowd, all feeling greater urgency to get back to work.

www.gulfcoastclaimsfacility.com says Wilbert Collins of Collins Oyster Company.

In the 90 years his family has owned Collins Oyster Company, including the 61 years he's been on the job, Wilbert Collins says this is the first year he has not sold a single oyster.
...
"Will it take 6 years, or 10 years, we don't know. On the resource side, there's still a lot of questions. There's still a lot of research in place and hopefully we'll start seeing some young oysters coming up" says John Tesvich with the Louisiana Oyster Dealer and Growers Association.

That is why John Tesvich will join others in Washington this week, to talk about rehabilitating the Gulf Coast, and the image of Gulf Seafood with an emphasis on the oyster industry as well as coastal restoration.
...


Big reason for hope in Iraq: Oil, and lots of it

It's hard not to wonder that the corroding pipelines in Iraq combined with BP's notoriously slipshod maintenance might end up costing the Iraqi's a truly nasty spill or more. One would think that Iraqi officials should have been looking to partner with companies with superb maintenance track records. I would be very interested in knowing just how it was that BP ended up with the contract. h/t Yasuragi

On a bleak stretch of desert near the Iraq-Kuwait border - half a world away from the Gulf of Mexico and last year's nightmarish blowout - BP is riding high, rapidly developing one of the world's richest oil fields.

The British energy giant plans to drill 3,000 new wells here over the next 10 years and build a town from scratch to house 4,000 employees. BP and Iraqi officials hope the Rumaila field soon will become the second most productive in the world - after Saudi Arabia's Ghawar - propelling the country into competition with Saudi Arabia and its other powerful oil-producing neighbor, Iran.
...
Among the biggest concerns are the old, corroded pipelines that carry three-quarters of the crude that Iraq sells abroad. They were last inspected in 1991 and "are ready to burst or at least drastically leak," Lando said. Some of the aging pipelines are underwater, mainly those that connect the port to offshore terminals.

Iraqi officials acknowledge the danger of a spill but they argue that shutting down even temporarily would cost millions that the government needs for reconstruction.

Instead, Iraq has opted for a combination of quick fixes - injecting a chemical into the piped oil to reduce pressure on the pipelines, for example - and some big initiatives. In September, a Singaporean firm inked a deal to build a $733 million offshore oil terminal that's projected to double Basra's export capacity by early next year.

For all the activity, however, the oil sector has generated relatively few new jobs so far in a country where unemployment is estimated at 30 percent. Some say that Iraqi officials are focusing too heavily on oil when promoting agriculture and small-business development would do more to spur employment.
...
The payoff for the oil majors could be massive. BP, for example, pledged last year to set aside $20 billion in a fund to compensate victims of the Gulf of Mexico spill. The company expects that Rumaila, where it heads a consortium that includes PetroChina and a state-owned Iraqi firm, one day could produce 2.85 million barrels of oil per day.

If it does, and with oil at today's price of about $90 a barrel, the field would generate $20 billion in about 11 weeks.


Pakistani NA panel bars govt from renewing agreement with BP

BP seems to leave nothing but big messes in its wake, including legal ones. h/t Yasuragi

A National Assembly panel has barred the government from renewing a gas sale agreement between British Petroleum (BP) and Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC).

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources on Wednesday took this decision on the grounds that BP has sold its business in Pakistan to a Singapore-based firm – United Energy Group. The government should renegotiate the deal with the new owner, the committee said.
...
The gas sale agreement between BP Pakistan and SSGC expires today (Thursday) but is automatically renewable according to a clause in the initial contract.
...
There was a difference of opinion between the petroleum ministry and the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) whether the BP gas sale agreement remains intact even after the company sold its stakes.
“The gas sale agreement with British Petroleum is now infectious,” said PPRA Managing Director Hafeez-ur-Rehman.

However, Secretary Petroleum and Natural Resources Imtiaz Kazi said that the agreement is still intact even after the sale of BP Pakistan under the rules.

The Sindh High Court has restrained the government from implementing the standing committee’s direction of letting the deal lapse on February 3.


TNK-BP wants last say on Russian energy

It sounds like TNK is wanting perpetual kickbacks from the BP-Rosneft deal. The ongoing BP-Russian soap opera would be hilarious if the Arctic environment wasn't at stake.

Any work in Russia done by British energy company BP should go through Anglo-Russian venture TNK-BP, sources close to the matter said.

TNK-BP is at odds with British energy company BP and Russian oil company Rosneft over an asset swap that included exploration deals in the Russian arctic.
...
A London court, however, placed a temporary injunction on the deal following a lawsuit filed by Alfa Access-Renova, a consortium representing the billionaire owners of the Russian half of TNK-BP
...
AAR accused BP of going against the shareholder agreement when it signed the deal with Rosneft.

A ruling on the London case could come by the end of the month.


Auction of TNK-BP's gas field is delayed

I'm sure this plays into the larger, convoluted BP-Russian oil oligarch relationship picture but I wouldn't even hazard a WAG as to how.

This is a monster Russian oil field that has been fought over for a decade. The owner of the field went bankrupt last year. TNK-BP has not been meeting the production quotas required by its license. TNK-BP claims this is because of Gazprom's monopoly on Russian gas exports.

An auction due to end TNK-BP's ownership of one of Russia's biggest gas fields has been postponed for another two weeks.
...
At one point it was in the sights of Gazprom, the state-owned gas giant, who was meant to buy it for $1bn (£620m). However, the deal collapsed over disagreements on price. The Russian state considered Kovykta a "strategic asset".


BP PREFERS TO MANAGE CHINESE PRESSURE OVER SOUTH CHINA SEA IN COMMERCIAL CHANNELS

This is from the Wikileaks embassy documents. It appears that BP isn't the slightest bit put off by inserting itself in the middle of the South China Sea squabble between China and Vietnam.

1.(C) SUMMARY The Chinese government has threatened action against BP assets on the mainland if the company does not halt new projects in disputed South China Sea waters. BP would like to keep any reactions to Chinese pressure over the company's activities in the South China Sea within commercial channels for the time being, according to the UK Foreign Office (FCO). Premier Oil, another UK energy company operating in disputed S. China Sea waters, has no business activity in China, so does not feel pressure to accommodate Chinese demands to halt operations. END SUMMARY

2.(C) BP acquired several off-shore projects from ARCO which were already functioning in disputed South China Sea waters when BP took them over, FCO's Head of the Far Eastern Group Stephen Lillie told us on April 21. The Chinese government chose to turn a blind eye to those projects, however, and they function without interference or pressure. Subsequently, BP began to develop new projects in areas where both China and Vietnam hold claims. In the summer of 2007, China began to put pressure on British and other companies to either cease operations or work out a deal between the individual companies involved, Vietnam and China. To the FCO's knowledge, China has not raised concerns over the pre-existing projects, but has made it clear that if BP were to go forward with the new projects, it would harm other BP projects in China. FCO takes this threat seriously, and Lillie noted that BP is one of the largest foreign investors in China. Concurrently, the Vietnamese government, which gave BP permission to operate in areas it claims in the South China Sea, told BP that onshore projects in Vietnam would be in jeopardy if BP succumbed to Chinese pressure.

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:

2-07-11 17:21:17Gulf Watchers Monday - Thad Allen on Arctic Drilling - BP Catastrophe AUV #470.shanesnana
2-06-11 24:00:16Gulf Watchers Sunday - Justice and Interior Bear Down on BP - BP Catastrophe AUV #469Yasuragi
2-04-11 21:26:13Gulf Watchers Block Party - Street Paradekhowell
2-04-11 18:30:13Gulf Watchers Block Party - A Little Pride is Not Uncalled ForYasuragi
2-04-11 08:46:38Gulf Watchers Friday - The 55-Gallon Drum of Worms - BP Catastrophe AUV #468Lorinda 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 Feb 09, 2011 at 03:00 AM PST.

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