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The trial in connection with the BP spill will be in three stages, beginning in February, 2012. Shell Oil deals with a leak in the North Sea. Bomb removed from pipeline in Oklahoma. Falling oil prices limit new Canadian oil sands projects. API upset over fracking regulations. Shrimpers vs. turtles; turtles losing.

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Gulf Watchers Diary Schedule
Wednesday - afternoon
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Friday Block Party - evening

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

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And here...well, here would be where the link to Meteor Blades' Green Diary Rescue should be.

Thank you for your work, MB. You were a good friend to us Gulf Watchers. We'll miss you. Be safe.

Liability trial in the BP spill will take months.

U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier said Friday that the trial over liability in the Deepwater Horizon blowout and subsequent spill will be held in three stages next year, beginning on February 27, 2012.

Although Barbier has not stated how long the beginning phase should last, principals in the litigation estimate that the initial stage will take several months.

The initial "incident phase" of the trial will examine the role of the various defendants in the loss of well control, the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and the initiation of the flow of oil.

After a break, the court would begin a second phase of the trial focusing on efforts to control and shut down the well and how much oil was actually lost.

A third phase would deal with other liability issues, such as efforts to skim and burn the oil, the use of dispersants and boom.

Barbier's court will hear testimony related to 549 cases. 108,000 individuals have filed claims asserting that irregularities and alleged negligence and disregard for safety on the part of BP and its partners have caused them harm.

Approximately 176 depositions have been taken over the past six months, including deposing officials from BP.  Another 31 depositions aimed at establishing the facts in the case have been scheduled.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs and defense are also examining the controversial Vessels of Opportunity program, where fishermen who were put out of work by the spill, and other private boat owners were hired to assist in cleanup operations. Boat owners say in a lawsuit that they were underpaid and that their vessels weren't decontaminated as promised.

Barbier says he may appoint someone to handle the disputes stemming from the VOO program, which involved thousands of boats. Boat owners have filed lawsuits contending that they were underpaid and that their vessels were not decontaminated as promised.

"This could expand," Barbier said. "I'm not sure how many of these Vessels of Opportunity cases could be out there."

This could go on until the next spill...and the next...


Speaking of the next spill...

Shell fighting oil leak in North Sea.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC says it is trying to stop oil leaking from a flow line at one of its drilling platforms in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland.

Spokesman David Williams confirmed the leak was ongoing today and he referred further questions to a company statement. Shell said it cannot specify how much oil may have escaped, but it knows which line had the leak and the flow has been stemmed as the underwater well has been shut in and the line at the Gannet Alpha platform is being de-pressurized.

Oklahoma man arrested after attempting to blow up pipeline.

The Oklahoma City division of the FBI said on Friday that Daniel Wells Herriman, 40, of Konawa, Oklahoma, called Seminole County 911 emergency response on Wednesday and said he had made the device at his home.

He said he put it under the above-ground pipeline on Sunday in a remote area near Okemah, about 75 miles east of Oklahoma City, and set the timer.

Hours before Herriman made that call, employees of the company that runs the line, Houston-based Enerfin Resources, found the device and alerted authorities, the FBI said.

The device did not explode and the pipeline was undamaged.

FBI spokesman Clay Simmonds said Herriman had no connection to the company. Herriman was in federal custody in Muskogee, Oklahoma, on Friday and it was not clear if he had yet obtained an attorney.

Okay. Let's get rolling on Keystone XL, why don't we? Not only will we have to deal with regular leaks, we'll have to deal with nutjobs trying to blow the damn thing up...

Oil sands are dirty energy, and very expensive to produce, both in terms of not much bang for your bucks, and absolutely horrendous in terms of the environmental costs.

So, in the sort-of-good-news category...but not for long.

Falling oil price puts Canada's oil-sands growth under scrutiny.

The falling per-barrel price of crude is putting a damper on the push for production of Canadian oil sands. Some projects are expected to be put on hold until prices rise again. With the average price below $80 a barrel, the higher production price tag for oil sands crude is prohibitively expensive.

Experts disagree on where prices should be before production again becomes lucrative. Bob Dunbar, head of a Calgary, Alberta, consulting firm says prices should be firmly in the $90-$100 a barrel range before any new projects in the Alberta oil sands are considered.

Though he said it is "probably a little bit premature" to say the recent drop in crude will halt the industry's growth, Dunbar expects some projects to be halted eventually.

"It's not reasonable that all of those projects are going to proceed anyway," Dunbar said. "There's more than the industry can sustain--we just don't have enough engineering or skilled labor."

Other analysts put the long-term WTI oil price for new mining projects lower, between $60 and $80 a barrel.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Randy Ollenberger sees new mining projects profitable at WTI prices of $70 a barrel and up, while Jackie Forrest, director of global oil research for the consulting firm IHS CERA sees them profitable at between $60 and $70 a barrel. Already built mining projects can turn a profit as low as $30 a barrel WTI, they said.

"I don't think anyone will be canceling projects yet," Ollenberger said, pointing to the higher price for longer-term oil futures, and his firm's average price WTI forecast for next year of $95 a barrel.

Forrest said new projects are still profitable. "They are going to be making less money than they were prior to the drop in oil prices," she said, "but the reality is these projects still make economic sense."

Economic sense... you rat bastards. And you don't have any qualms at all about running the Keystone XL pipeline through the American heartland to transport your dirty, expensive, environmentally devastating crap to the Gulf, where it will be loaded on ships and sold elsewhere, where prices are higher.

You get to fill your pockets with environmental blood money. You win. The US and Canada lose.

These are the people who have been tasked with the regulation of "safety" in the US oil industry...and they don't like any regulation. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Nothing should stand in their way when it comes to making money... (And in case you've forgotten, API is the American Petroleum Institute. I wish I believed in hell, so I could hope for a very special place to put these folks for all eternity...

API disappointed by DOE fracking committee recommendations.

API President and CEO Jack Gerard has had his fee-fees hurt that the Department of Energy thinks that hydrofracking should be regulated for human and environmental safety.

"The committee's recommendations are deficient in large part because the committee failed to adequately acknowledge existing programs and rules. It called for new air emission standards when comprehensive EPA rules already are in place or are being revised. It recommended reduction in use of diesel engines, oblivious or dismissive of the practical and economic considerations that require their use. And it ignored consideration of the potential benefits and costs of new rules, an omission that could cause harm to consumers, jobs and the economy. The shortcomings may in part be due to the fact that none of its members are from the industry or have direct experience in natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations.

"The industry is committed to appropriate environmental protections and industry best practices, but is concerned that the subcommittee's recommendations could end up frustrating the many benefits that will come from further development of America's vast supply of natural gas, including the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs and increasing our nation's energy security. We urge the committee to revise its recommendations to better reflect the facts on hydraulic fracturing, the extensive regulations under which the industry operates, and the industry's new best practices."

In a letter to DOE secretary Stephen Chu, scientists express concerns that the "regulatory entities" have much too cozy ties to the oil and gas industry. Well, duh...


As scientists from 22 universities and institutions in 13 states, we are writing to express our concern over the lack of impartiality on the Natural Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board that is studying ways to make hydraulic fracturing safer. We urge you to modify the panel’s membership so that the panel can make recommendations on hydraulic fracturing that are unbiased and scientifically sound.

    In our work, we believe in reducing individual biases in evaluating the merits of scientific or technological ideas. The current panel does not meet this standard. Six of the seven members have current financial ties to the natural gas and oil industry. These include: chairman John Deutch, Stephen Holditch, Kathleen McGinty, Susan Tierney, Daniel Yergin and Mark Zoback. These conflicts of interest make it appear that the subcommittee is designed to serve industry at taxpayer expense rather than serving President Obama and the public with credible advice.

Take money out of the regulatory process? Eliminate conflict of interest? If wishes were horses...or unicorns...

This pisses me off. Really pisses me off. I understand that the shrimpers and fishermen have been devastated after the spill, but were the turtles...

Gulf sea turtles need no drastic protective measures, feds say.

The federal government has decided not to place emergency restrictions on Gulf of Mexico shrimpers to protect endangered and threatened sea turtles from shrimpers' nets.

In recent letters to environmental groups seeking tougher restrictions on shrimpers, the National Marine Fisheries Service said it would not close down shrimping or force thousands more shrimpers to use devices on their nets that allow turtles to swim out.

Federal regulators said such drastic measures were not needed because the number of dead sea turtles has declined and federal marine agents have stepped up pressure on shrimpers to use gear that protects sea turtles.


The environmental groups asked NMFS to make all shrimp vessels that use skimmer trawl nets to have gear called turtle excluder devices, or TEDs,and even close down the shrimp fishery until trawls were installed with the gear. Skimmer trawl nets are used by fishermen who ply the seas and bays close to shore in state waters. The turtle-saving gear is required on boats that work in federal waters farther offshore and on some types of shrimp boats in state waters.

Shrimpers say the requirements championed by environmentalists for skimmer trawls would affect 3,600 vessels. The industry says the gear would cost $375 for each device, costing about $4 million.


NMFS said June saw 76 dead turtles. The agency also said there was not enough evidence that the shrimp industry was the leading cause in the spike in deaths because the turtles were dying during periods when shrimpers were not working.

Still, tougher regulations for shrimpers may be on the horizon. NMFS is crafting a set of new regulations to better protect sea turtles

Meanwhile, federal marine investigators have not determined the cause for the spike in turtle deaths. The government says its veterinary pathologist found that the majority of the deaths were caused by drowning or poisoning.

Investigators have not found oil in the animals and say they probably are not dying because of a disease.

Elizabeth Griffin Wilson of Oceana said it was possible environmental groups would sue NMFS to force regulators to curb the shrimp industry. She said shrimpers were likely a leading cause for sea turtle deaths. She charged that fishermen routinely sew up TEDs on their nets or simply shrimp without them.

"We have seen evidence of drowning by forced submergence — like turtles being held under water — and found with sediment and little fish in their esophagi," she said. "Those two things point strongly to the shrimp industry."

Chris Pincetich of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project says the government has "wimped out" in trying to protect the turtles.

Shrimpers, however, are vehemently disputing that they are causing turtle deaths.

"These environmental groups are attempting to hold thousands of hardworking shrimpers accountable for the deaths of sea turtles that occurred when the fishery was not active," said John Williams, executive director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance, an industry group. He said environmentalists were wasting regulators' time and resources with their petitions for emergency measures.

Look, I know shrimpers need to make a living. But come on guys...let the turtles live too, dammit...

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:

8-12-11 06:33 PM Gulf Watchers Block Party - Mono no aware, and a tribute to Beaker Street Lorinda Pike
8-10-11 04:00 PM Gulf Watchers Wednesday - Boat owners charge BP with fraud - BP Catastrophe AUV #545 peraspera
8-07-11 12:18 PM Gulf Watchers Sunday - Wetlands, Dead Birds, and Protests, Oh My - BP Catastrophe #544 Lorinda Pike
The last Mothership has links to reference material.

Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Happy Sunday... (14+ / 0-)

    Tough to find stories out there, and then the ones I did find depressed me. Oh, well.

    If anyone has anything else, please post below.

    Du er ikke å ødelegge vårt demokrati og vårt arbeid for en bedre verden. (You're not destroying our democracy and our work for a better world.) --- Norway Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

    by Lorinda Pike on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 09:30:38 AM PDT

  •  Louisiana has a law on the books (7+ / 0-)

    forbidding their Fish and Game people from enforcing federal TED laws. I'm not sure how effective it would be to change the law if we can only depend on federal enforcement. It seems to me that it would be fair not to give  Louisiana a dime of federal environmental restoration money until that vile law is rescinded. Louisiana could use some of that federal money to offer low cost TED devices for low-income shrimp fishers.

    It's fairly good news that the liability trial will only take months rather than years. It's also interesting that Judge Barbier thinks that the number of Vessels of Opportunity lawsuits will greatly expand. Given BP's track record of financially screwing everyone they can it seems reasonable to assume that none of the VOA boat owners were paid what they were promised unless they had important political connections BP wanted to protect.

    Thanks for the diary even though news, particularly good news, continues to be so sparse.

    •  That's what depresses me... the federal (7+ / 0-)

      government is so infiltrated and compromised by the business end of things that I see little hope for any real regulation, in almost all areas, not just the turtles in the Gulf.

      Even down to the individual shrimpers -  I understand, I think, the position of the fisherman trying to get enough of a catch to sell to feed the family - just the time it takes to use the TEDs and then trawl correctly might (the way the fisherman sees it) end up allowing someone else to make a better, larger catch.

      That kind of desperation is hard to get around - for lots of folks the concern for their family so greatly outweighs the concern for the turtles, and for the environment in general. That dichotomy is what I think makes people in many situations disregard the long-term environmental impact of anything for the immediacy of actually feeding their family today.

      The concept of what that does to the future is downgraded and disregarded in the need for the now.

      Du er ikke å ødelegge vårt demokrati og vårt arbeid for en bedre verden. (You're not destroying our democracy and our work for a better world.) --- Norway Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

      by Lorinda Pike on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 10:12:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hey guys...:) (6+ / 0-)

    As usual, I come to mess up your gulf diary.

    But, this time for a good reason.

    "David Kroning" bites the dust today...and I just wanted to thank everyone here for being kind to me and supporting me through my hard times.

    I got a new zombie safehouse and I'm moving in tomorrow morning.  It's on the third floor with an easily blockadable stairway and only a few windows that are easily defendable.

    I even got someone to use the shotgun, so I'm all set.

    You guys really are good souls.  "David" will not forget you.

  •  A dire prediction... (7+ / 0-)

    The natural gas lobby is launching a massive ad campaign. It is being presented, ostensibly, to counter anti-fracking sentiment.

    The prediction part comes from my own feeble brain. Watching the first wave of advertisements leads me to believe there will be at least two more.

    In the current wave the lobby is touting the economy of natural gas vs. other fossil fuels.

    The second will (imo) emphasize the "abundance" of natural gas and how it could lessen our dependence on foreign oil (and probably trot out National Securitytm as a selling point).

    And that sets the stage for portraying themselves as victims in the third stage as they bring forth the specter of Evil Government Regulation that is costing our children their future and weakening our global influence.

    Because, of course, fracking is innovative, economically stimulating, and as safe for the environment as planting a tree.

    btw, those shrimpers are missing a trick... $4 million is a tuppence in federal budgets. They could easily get the government to agree to fund the cost of the TEDs -- at an even greater price than the (imo inflated) sum of $375 each.

    "If we want to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we need to reduce the number of our senators dependent on fossil fuel contributions." - Rodney Glassman

    by Darryl House on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 11:18:43 AM PDT

    •  And the sad part about that, DH (7+ / 0-)

      that I alluded to in the story, is that very little of the gas produced is going to stay in this country.

      95% will go to other countries where the prices are higher.

      It is ALL about the money. The bastards are more than willing to eviscerate the environment here to line their own pockets.

      We get nothing. No, scratch that. We get LESS THAN NOTHING.

      Du er ikke å ødelegge vårt demokrati og vårt arbeid for en bedre verden. (You're not destroying our democracy and our work for a better world.) --- Norway Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

      by Lorinda Pike on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 11:34:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good job, LP----They will win; yes, we lose. (7+ / 0-)

    I had a pertinent link, but can't find it--nor can I remember it, as my brain is too feeble.....

    I really brought a lot to this discussion, huh???

    •  {{{{{Phil}}}}} (5+ / 0-)

      Your brain is not feeble; not by a long shot.

      You want feeble? I spend half my life looking for my coffee cup... the one with the hot coffee in it that I'm currently drinking. That's feeble.

      Hi, buddy... happy Sunday afternoon.  :-)

      Du er ikke å ødelegge vårt demokrati og vårt arbeid for en bedre verden. (You're not destroying our democracy and our work for a better world.) --- Norway Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

      by Lorinda Pike on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 01:15:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  On second thought...maybe I should switch (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        permanently to yerba mate'... that way I'll almost always be holding it (the gourd with the tea) because I have one cat who is fascinated by the bombilla - the metal straw. She'll grab it with her teeth and drag it somewhere and hide it...Can't even leave the gourd on the countertop 'cause she'll steal the straw...I have no idea why...'s late, and I'm really rambling, aren't I....

        little voice says go to bed...

        'night, all...

        Du er ikke å ødelegge vårt demokrati og vårt arbeid for en bedre verden. (You're not destroying our democracy and our work for a better world.) --- Norway Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

        by Lorinda Pike on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 08:41:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  BTW----I WILL do a Block Party Friday..... (5+ / 0-)

    It will be classic.....

  •  My dear LP. (5+ / 0-)

    I am so sorry to be very, very, very late. I have been sick today. This has been a bad week for sinus problems.

    Thank you so much for the diary. Despite the dearth of info out there, you managed to find a ton of stuff.

    Hello to all Gulf Watchers (who are no longer here). Hope all are well and happy.

    Again, LP, thank you so much and I am sorry.  

    "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

    by rubyr on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 06:13:00 PM PDT

  •  North Sea oil spill update... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lorinda Pike, DawnN
    LONDON — Some 1,300 barrels worth of oil are believed to have leaked into the North Sea from a Royal Dutch Shell rig, Shell said Monday.


    Still trying to completely contain it....

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