Topics: Feinberg gets a raise. Gag order imposed on reporting dolphin deaths. The American Petroleum Institute claims the Obama administration is blocking oil and gas production, even as another drilling permit is issued. Norwegian producer gets sixth permit issued. More tests on the BOP may be performed. Chevron spokesman says permitting process is not really a "black hole". Number of drilling rigs in US increases. Rosneft tries to save BP Arctic drilling alliance. BP declares force majeure on Libyan refiner.
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While reports that damage claims from the BP disaster are being denied right and left, claims czar Kenneth Feinberg has apparently been doing such a bang-up job that he has gotten a raise. Monthly compensation for his law firm has been upped from $850 thousand a month to $1.25 million...retroactive to January.
Documents released Friday include a letter from former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to claims czar Kenneth Feinberg. Mukasey stated his belief that the extra money was warranted because Feinberg's duties had grown. Mukasey was asked by Feinberg to weigh in on how reasonable his compensation was.
Feinberg has been criticized for the pace of processing the roughly 500,000 claims that have been filed since he took over handling claims for individuals and businesses from the $20 billion fund in August. Fishers and others have complained that the money they have received is inadequate, and that in many cases their claims have been denied with little explanation.
Feinberg has said that he believes that the Gulf of Mexico will recover from the damage from the BP gusher by the end of next year, and the $20 billion from BP should more than cover the losses to claimants.
Many on the Coast disagree...
"He has performed poorly, and I'm being polite, and yet they are giving him a raise," said Orange Beach, Ala., Mayor Anthony Kennon, whose community was hard hit by the oil spill. "The real question is, how does BP view his performance? They are giving him a raise, so they must think it's good. That speaks for itself."
The U.S. government is keeping a tight lid on its probe into scores of unexplained dolphin deaths along the Gulf Coast, possibly connected to last year's BP oil spill, causing tension with some independent marine scientists.
Some researchers designated as official "partners" in the agency's Marine Mammal Stranding Network complained such constraints undermine the transparency of a process normally open to review by the scientific community.
Gag order, because it is evidence... Lab funded by the culprit. Scientists told to shut up. Dead dolphins... and more dead dolphins... Do you get the feeling we'll never know the truth about anything?
The American Petroleum Institute- you remember them; the lobbying group that now controls policing of safety issues on deepwater rigs in the Gulf - is complaining that the Obama administration is restricting domestic oil and gas exploration and production.
The document is the latest attack by API, which, when given the safety police role once held by the now-defunct Minerals Management Service (which was disbanded after accusations of being "badly mismanaged and at times corrupt") had said that the lobbying function of the trade group would not impact their ability to maintain human and environmental safety standards for drilling and production.
Well, apparently they lied...
API is arguing that the administration has "taken specific steps to stop or delay the development of domestic oil and gas natural resources", including:
* The Interior Department’s decision not to proceed with a Bush-era plan for leasing the outer continental shelf that would have opened broad swaths of coastal waters for oil and gas development. The Bush plan would have run from 2010 through 2015 and replaced an existing leasing blueprint that runs through the middle of 2012.
Michael Bromwich, the head of BOEMRE, says his agency is moving as “expeditiously” as it can to examine proposed drilling projects and ensure they satisfy new safety mandates. Bromwich also has stressed that until recently, the oil and gas industry was unable to prove it could swiftly tame a blowout in deep Gulf waters, which is a requirement for those projects to be permitted.
Well, duh... (API's little snarky graphic is here.)
While API is trying to convince us the President is trying to stifle our god-given right to cheap gas (safety be damned...) yet another drilling permit is granted.
Again, that is deeper by more than 2000 feet than Macando 252...
The company made news in 2007 by bidding $37.6 million for the tract — the highest bid in the western Gulf of Mexico lease sale.
Statoil was close to drilling the well last year — and had a key permit in hand and a rig under contract for the work — but those plans were halted by the oil spill and the administration’s subsequent ban on deep-water exploration.
Statoil is contracted with Helix Well Containment Group to use its (as yet untested in real-world situations) equipment and vessels to capture oil in case of a blowout at the site.
Another counterpoint to API's claims of "thwarting" oil and gas development is Gary Luquette, president of Chevron’s North American exploration and production business, who says the permitting process is not a black hole, where permits are sucked in and never seen again...
Some in the industry have charged that the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement staff sat on permit applications and didn’t communicate with companies about their status. It was like a black hole, some said.
And does this sound like "thwarting" to you?
Rigs drilling for oil rose by 12 this week to total 851 while those drilling for gas rose by five to total 880, according to a report today by Houston-based oilfield services company Baker Hughes.
A federal judge on Friday granted BP PLC's request to have more tests performed on the critical safety device that failed to stop oil from gushing out of its well during last year's Deepwater Horizon disaster.
On Wednesday, Det Norske Veritas concluded its official examination of the device by issuing a report that said it failed because of faulty design and a bent piece of pipe.
Shall we see if Det Norske Veritas (a firm with impeccable credentials, from what I can gather) is tasked with more analysis, or will an affiliate of, say, API be told to negate everything reported earlier about design flaws by cobbing up something that proves everything is just fine... Nothing to see here. Move along, and let us get back to destroying the planet...
It is not over in Russia as Rosneft tries to salvage a potentially lucrative Arctic drilling alliance with BP, after billionaire financiers blocked the deal.
BP and Rosneft scrambled Friday to salvage their landmark alliance after BP's Russian partners in its TNK-BP Ltd. joint venture blocked it. But it is unclear how a deal so mired in legal challenges and high-stakes Russian power struggles can now be rescued.
In opposing the BP-Rosneft tie-up, AAR argued that it violated their shareholder agreement with BP, which stipulates the U.K. company must pursue all business opportunities in Russia exclusively through TNK-BP. The deal was sent to independent arbitrators after AAR won a court injunction last month freezing it.
BP PLC said Thursday it has declared force majeure on supplies to Libya-owned refiner Tamoil Group and that the latter is challenging the move in a German court.
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:
|3-25-11 05:30 AM||Gulf Watchers Friday - Skewed Pipe Faulted in Spill - BP Catastrophe AUV #491
|3-23-11 06:00 AM||Gulf Watchers Wednesday - Recent Gulf Spill Culprit Found - BP Catastrophe AUV #490||peraspera|
|3-20-11 10:54 AM||Gulf Watchers Sunday - Another Leaking Deepwater Rig in the Gulf? - BP Catastrophe AUV #489||Lorinda Pike|
|3-18-11 04:59 PM||Gulf Watchers Block Party: Ballads||BlackSheep1|
|3-18-11 08:12 AM||Gulf Watchers Friday - We Are Royally Screwed - BP Catastrophe AUV #488||Lorinda Pike|
Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.
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