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Topics: The BP Gulf Oil Spill: A Risk Management Debacle, Gulf currents aided breakdown of oil after BP spill, study says, Revisiting the Deepwater Horizon Plumes, New NOAA study mirrors spill rate from BP well, Gulf of Mexico oil spill environmental data drives damage assessment, Claimants challenge holdback in BP oil spill case, In BP case, legal ties are topsy turvy: James Gill, Editorial: Wait for the facts, Amid BCS mania, BP pushes a PR blitz to paint a rosy picture in aftermath of Gulf oil spill, Has BP made it right? Company still has work remaining to right wrongs of oil spill, BP has donated $4 million to Fletcher Technical Community College for a new wing dedicated to training students for oilfield jobs, New Orleans shareholders suing BP fight English jurisdiction, TNK-BP Minority Investors Seek Presidential Protection in Letter, Electrician leads minority shareholder action against BP in Siberia

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This report was done by Licata, a company that advises insurance companies on risk management. It is much more blunt and damning than any of the government reports they used to form their conclusions. I found it an interesting perspective since insurance companies basically manage risk for profit.

The public would be well-served by seeing more of this type of risk management analysis for the Deepwater Horizon/Macondo blowout. Companies who practice poor risk management see their insurance costs go up. In the case of oil companies this means that consumers pay for those costs at the pump. Cutting safety costs to make the next quarter look good is poor risk management that has ugly long-term consequences as we have seen in the Deepwater Horizon/Macondo catastrophe.

Just like the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation ordered report from the National Academy of Engineers (NAE) this report is particularly heartbreaking because there were so many missed opportunities to prevent the horrible tragedy caused by the Macondo blowout.

While this report puts the blame squarely on BP as the ultimate responsible party the NAE report points out that deepwater drilling requires a multitude of companies with specific expertise to get the job done. Transocean and Halliburton are huge deepwater players and their safety culture was every bit as wanting as BP's.

I've heard experts comment that deepwater drilling is as technically challenging as space exploration. Unfortunately, the companies engaged in this high-risk endeavor seem to have little inclination to adopt risk mitigation policies commensurate with the danger posed.

It is also worth pointing out that there has never been a scintilla of evidence that BP's constant yammering to the press that it has "learned its lesson" is anything more than them blathering outright lies. BP said the same thing after their Texas City refinery blew up killing 15 workers and the same thing when their Alaska pipeline started gushing due to poor maintenance.

It is well worth clicking through to read the entire report. It succinctly summarizes the series of events that led to the Deepwater Horizon/Macondo tragedy with intertwined explanations of the dangers of normal human attitudes towards risks will inevitably lead to major catastrophes absent solid risk management company policies.  

Risk Management News and Reports - LicataRisk Advisors

January, 9, 2011

THE BP GULF OIL SPILL: A RISK MANAGEMENT DEBACLE

The BP Gulf oil spill is the worst risk management story, and the best risk management story. It is the best risk management case study: it illustrates vividly how a working risk management program could have (would have) prevented the debacle — not in a “hindsight” manner, but rather in a factual and clearly observable way.

BP appears to have violated all of the following:

   •   Government regulations

   •   Safety and loss control standards for the oil exploration industry

   •   BP’s own safety and loss control standards

   •   Core risk management principles

The event also showed how BP personnel fell into the traps set by the psychology of risk. Human instincts are flawed when it comes to risk management. For example we focus on the frequent loss, but ignore the vastly more important severe loss. Our minds pay attention to the apparent risks while ignoring the severe remote ones. Ironically BP was, about the time of the blowout, receiving a safety award for the project. They were able to concentrate on the likely events and prevent them (the easy part of loss control), while ignoring the less likely catastrophe.

Even with this mindset, BP was given the gift of warning after warning that a disaster was brewing. Since there was apparently no risk management culture at the company, all were ignored.

In most companies risk management falls under the domain of the CFO. CFOs take note: this event should have been prevented; and it would have been prevented-- not with heroic risk management efforts, but with a reasonably competent risk management effort. This story shows how risk management can, and does, work.

BP’s own report, released shortly after the incident, stated the following:

“The team did not identify any single action or inaction that caused this accident. Rather, a complex and interlinked series of … failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces came together….”

We don’t know if BP thought this statement was some form of exoneration, as if a whole series of things went wrong, therefore it was an unexpected and overwhelming deluge over which they couldn’t possibly have gained control. In fact, from a risk management standpoint, it was a damning statement. Complex systems fail in complex ways. Usually, as in this BP case, many things need to go wrong for such a disaster to occur; thus, the company has many opportunities to break the chain of failure. It takes a culture that gives little respect to the concept of risk management for so many disastrous mistakes to be possible.
...
Again on March 8, 2010, a kick was encountered, this one more severe than the one the prior October. BP staff were concerned. One BP manager emailed to headquarters that the well site leaders “are not well control experts … especially at 1200 feet off the bottom with many unknowns.” BP did not investigate the causes, a violation of its own policy.

Per the BOEM report:

“By terminating the well where it did, BP set the total depth of the well in a sand-shale interface. BP internal guidelines…specify that drilling should not be stopped in [this kind of area because it] increases the likelihood of cement channeling or contamination.”

On the same day a BP drilling engineer emailed to supervisors that “[Macondo is] a nightmare well that has everyone all over the place.”

At this point in the timeline notice what has already happened:

There is no indication of a risk management culture at all aboard the Deepwater Horizon.
...
From the standpoint of risk management, BP so far is missing in action. Already, by April 10, BP has had sufficient warning of problems brewing, yet has taken no action whatsoever. Management commitment and involvement is nowhere to be seen, communication has gone up the ladder, but nothing has come back down, and no one has stepped forward to say “slow down.”

The focus is clearly on saving money, speed and production. The rig day rate (charge to BP for use of the rig per day) was $533,495. Those onboard the rig were risking their own lives. They were apparently not aware of the growing risks right in front of their faces. Shortcuts were being constantly taken. If anyone was fully aware of the situation, he was not confident or comfortable enough to come forward. There was clearly either lack of training or fear of reprisal, likely both. Lack of accountability is evident in this email to supervisors by a BP Wells Team Leader on April 17:

“What is my authority? With the separation of engineering and operations I do not know what I can and cannot do. The operation is not going to succeed if we continue in this manner.”

This separation is the antithesis of the “integration” principle of good risk management. Can “engineering” advocate caution, pushing the science to the forefront, only to be overruled by “operations” whose goal is getting the job done, and fast? Not with true integration.

Suggestions of extra precautions were apparently overruled with a clear expression of the priorities. On April 20, a BP Wells Team Leader sent the following to an apparently, in his mind, overly cautious fellow employee:

“We will never know if your million dollar flush run was needed. How does this get us to sector leadership?"

Per the BOEM report: “A negative pressure test is critical because it tests the integrity of …the well.”

Caution, this may be shocking to you (though not as shocking as before you started reading): Per the BOEM report: “Neither BP nor Transocean had pre-existing negative test standards and procedures.” In discussing how to do this crucial test, one of the key BP players in the test said to upper management (requesting guidance): “I have gotten different opinions from everyone on the team.”

As with many disasters in history, many people on board had serious reservations, but everybody was waiting for someone else to act. The psychology of risk, in a couple of its many manifestations was in play here:

On 4/20/10 at 5:00 pm the first negative pressure test failed. The BOEM report gives this interpretation: “The increase in drill pipe pressure is evidence of an unsuccessful negative test and show the well was possibly flowing.” – emphasis added.

On 4/20/10 at 6:45 pm, the second negative pressure test also failed. Per dialogue captured in the reports, the crew was interpreting the pressure as a to- be- expected “bladder effect.” A rig worker called the BP Houston office to discuss and the reply from Houston was “a successful negative test could not result in pressure on the drill pipe.” In other words what you are experiencing cannot be reconciled with a successful test.

At this critical point, regardless of how many opportunities have been missed till now, BP had the opportunity once again to prevent disaster. It is astounding how everyone up and down the chain at the company was able to ignore such bountiful evidence of impending disaster, particularly at this juncture. It is another lesson in the psychology of risk that group think can take over when there is no culture, no training, no management commitment and no accountability to say otherwise.



While this new information should be considered important, Ian MacDonald's skepticism about drawing broad conclusions about magical bacteria from small sample sets should be taken seriously. This is something that the press indulges in on a regular basis. However, scientists aren't immune from the exaggeratitis disease.

Shamefully, the government simply did not provide any money for scientists to get out to do any timely work to provide large, truly meaningful sampling. The National Science Foundation robbed Peter to pay Paul to fund a small handful of scientists right after the spill but that was the extent of government help. This parsimony condemns us to continuing willful ignorance when we have the next deepwater blowout.

Gulf currents aided breakdown of oil after BP spill, study says

January 09, 2012

The geography and water circulation patterns of the northern Gulf of Mexico promoted the breakdown of oil and gas spewing from a busted wellhead during the BP oil disaster, according to a new study.

Using computer models and Navy data on gulf currents, the authors concluded that rather than moving away from the deep-sea wellhead in a linear fashion, oil-laced water often looped back, returning hydrocarbon-munching bacterial blooms to the rising oil plume for repeated feasts.

"That northern portion of the gulf is almost enclosed on three sides," said lead author David Valentine, a UC Santa Barbara professor of microbial geochemistry. "So it's subject to a lot of more subtle forces that will slosh the water around like a washing machine in a circle."

The recirculation meant the natural gas and oil escaping from nearly a mile below the ocean surface was consumed more quickly than would have otherwise been the case.

The looping currents "came back over the wellhead and got a second and perhaps a third introduction of oil and gas. And when that happened there was a [bacterial] community that had grown up in the intervening time" and was ready to consume more hydrocarbons.

The paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is part of the growing body of work analyzing the fate and effects of the country's largest offshore oil spill.

Valentine, who worked with UCSB mechanical engineering professor Igor Mezic and others on the study, said the modeling could be a template for research during other deep-sea drilling projects.

But Ian MacDonald, a Florida State University oceanography professor who has also published research on the spill, said he was "a little skeptical of the huge bacterial response."

"The problem that I have generally with this water column work is that the data that were collected of bacteria in the water column were pretty few.... The challenge that we scientists are going to have forever is explaining a phenomenon that we didn't really measure very well."




When reputable scientists' findings appear to differ those differences can usually be reconciled by further investigation as is the case with the underwater oil plumes that BP's deepwater gusher produced. While I have enormous respect for Woods Hole's Dr. Camilli it is important to note that he is an engineer so he isn't the best qualified to comment on the biological aspects of the study.

While adding to the knowledge of water movement in the Gulf is a significant contribution there is a whole lot left be understood about the biological processes that break down oil. When the next big deepwater spill occurs I expect this study to be widely cited by big oil as justification for inaction other than the heavy use of dispersants.

Revisiting the Deepwater Horizon Plumes

January 9, 2012, 3:05 PM

Maybe the plumes were really clouds.

I am talking about the famous plumes from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the event that roiled the Gulf Coast and scrambled energy politics in mid-2010. Many readers will remember reports, first carried in this newspaper, that a considerable volume of hydrocarbons released in the spill did not reach the surface of the gulf. Instead they dissolved into deep water, forming what appeared at the time to be enormous plumes of dissolved oil and gas.

That first report met with initial denials from the oil company BP, confusion from the government and a rush by scientists to prove or disprove the plumes’ existence. Their existence was finally confirmed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration after reports from several scientific teams and a raft of subsequent evidence bolstered the finding.

Still, some things about the plumes have never been particularly clear. For instance, several research groups found evidence of a plume spreading southwest from the Macondo well, where the blowout occurred. But other researchers found plumes drifting northeast at a different point. And chemical findings were equally puzzling: at times, for example, the hydrocarbons near the well seemed fresh, as if they had just come out of the reservoir beneath the sea floor, but at other times they appeared to be far along in decomposing, as though they had been in the water for weeks or even months.

Now an intriguing new paper appears to make sense of all this.

The paper, released on Monday afternoon by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will come as a relief to many scientists who worked on the spill. It suggests that most of their measurements were valid and consistent with one another, even though that did not seem to be the case at the time. What was almost certainly wrong was the image many of us had in our heads then, of hydrocarbon plumes stretching away from the wellhead like undersea rivers.

The new work was led by David L. Valentine and Igor Mezic of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Valentine was one of the researchers who worked in the gulf during the spill. Troubled by apparent inconsistencies among the findings of various scientific teams, he enlisted Dr. Mezic, a leading expert in fluid dynamics, who in turn helped bring in a group of Croatian researchers who were prominent in that field.

A primary finding is that, instead of forming undersea rivers or plumes, the dissolved oil and gas more likely formed big, billowing clouds that drifted around the northern gulf, appearing and reappearing in different places at different times — thus confounding scientific attempts to develop a clear picture. “You could almost think of it as layered clouds, but with more of a sort of swirling motion and back and forth than you would get from a sky cloud,” Dr. Valentine said. His group has produced a video that gives a sense of how the flow worked.

The paper suggests that scientific groups that thought they were tracking a persistent plume southeast of the wellhead were actually seeing recurrent appearances of oil and gas in these drifting clouds. The hydrocarbons in a particular spot were sometimes fresh, but sometimes they were making a second or third appearance at that location and had had weeks to break down — explaining the apparently conflicting chemical measurements.
...
In their paper, the researchers acknowledge that their model is not flawless. It cannot reproduce some of the finer features of the spill, for instance, and the reconstruction does not perfectly match the available data in every case. Moreover, I have to caution readers that most scientists have not had a chance to study the new paper in detail, so it remains to be seen whether the work will stand critical scrutiny.

Samantha B. Joye — the University of Georgia researcher who first disclosed the existence of the plumes and subsequently tilted lances with Dr. Valentine over some findings — said she could not comment on the modeling part of his study since that was beyond her expertise. But she added that the research “does reconcile things a bit.” Richard Camilli, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who ran another research cruise in the gulf, told me by e-mail that he considered the new paper “very impressive — a big step forward in understanding the spill’s subsurface transport and biodegradation dynamics.”
...




Even though this work was published in a reputable journal some skepticism is always in order unless and until work is confirmed by independent sources. The government shutting in the Macondo preventing the physical measurement of flow rate means that BP will be able to have a field day in court disputing government flow rate estimates. They are already disputing them with the EPA in an attempt to negotiate lower fines.

New NOAA study mirrors spill rate from BP well

January 10, 2012 11:45 AM
...
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says a new study found that an average of 11,130 tons of gas and oil compounds per day were released from the BP PLC well that fouled the Gulf. The official leak rate officials used during the spill was about 11,350 tons of gas and oil per day.

The agency says the new study combined chemical measurements in the deep ocean, in the oil slick and in the air.

Thomas Ryerson, a NOAA research chemist and lead author of the study, said the new study did not rely on data used in the original estimates, which were based on looking at video of the leaking well, the diameter of the pipe and other calculations of the flowing fluids.

The new study was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.




Our lawmakers have done absolutely nothing to address the issue of including criminal polluters as full partners in the National Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process. As a practical matter the criminals retain veto power. It's also difficult to understand why the NRDA trustees approved using scarce resources to build boat ramps when there is so much environmental damage that remains unaddressed. The Times Picayune headline writer apparently spent no time pondering that thought.

The $20 billion estimate on what will likely be spent seems very low to me for the damage BP's black monster did to the environment. I doubt that amount of money would come close to being able to cover the costs of taking the first few steps in putting the oil-fouled marshlands right.

There were, for all intents and purposes, no shrimp to be caught in coastal waters this year with dead silence from the scientific community about why, let alone any insight as to the likelihood of recovery of the shrimp populations even being in the offing. Oil buried under surface clean beaches with broken bits of offshore oil mats washing ashore will likely be problems for years to come.

Gulf of Mexico oil spill environmental data drives damage assessment | NOLA.com

Published: Thursday, January 12, 2012, 10:45 PM     Updated: Friday, January 13, 2012, 12:13 PM

BP's chief environmental scientist assigned to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Thursday said the company, working with state and federal trustees, remains on a fast pace aimed at restoring resources damaged during the 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Briefing reporters by phone in advance of a month-long series of hearings on proposed "early restoration projects" along the Gulf Coast, Robin Bullock said the formal Natural Resource Damage Assessment process required under federal law has developed "the largest set of environmental data at one point in time associated with an oil spill incident within the Gulf of Mexico."

Hundreds of scientists -- from universities, federal agencies and hired by BP -- have gathered data on the status of Gulf resources before the spill, and the potential for resource damage from the estimated 5 million barrels of oil that gushed from BP's Macondo well.
...
The hearings will focus on the first eight projects proposed in December by states' trustees and BP, which total $57 million for the Gulf Coast and includes $28 million for Louisiana projects. BP has pledged to spend $1 billion on "early restoration" projects, but the company and other parties responsible for the spill may eventually have to spend as much as $20 billion on natural resource projects.

The projects were approved by a committee of trustees representing the five Gulf Coast states, the federal departments of Interior and Commerce and BP. Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the trustees and the parties responsible for the spill are required to cooperatively complete the damage assessment process.

The $4.4 million proposed for building boat ramps and $600,000 for coastal dunes in Florida is aimed at compensating for such lost recreational opportunities.
...
Louisiana's projects fall into the resource restoration category, as do the $11 million for oyster cultch and $2.6 million for an artificial reef in Mississippi and the $9.4 million for marsh creation and $1.1 million for coastal dune improvements in Alabama.

Bullock and Graves could not say when additional projects will be announced, but the agreement signed by trustees and BP set a goal of beginning construction of projects by the end of 2012, Graves said.

"The intent of Louisiana is to stick to that time frame," Graves said.

Public comments are being accepted on the first list of projects through Feb. 14, including on the web at http://losco-dwh.com/... . Recommendations for future projects also will be accepted.

In Louisiana, state officials will hold three public meetings to discuss the projects, each beginning at 5:30 p.m., with a public hearing at 6:30 p.m.:

Jan. 31, Terrebonne Council Chambers, 8026 Main St., second floor, Houma.

Feb. 1, St. Bernard Parish Council Chambers, 8201 West Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette.
Feb.. 2, Belle Chasse Auditorium, 8398 Louisiana 23, Belle Chasse.




Plaintiff's lawyers seem to be putting their pocketbooks above those of the victims they supposedly represent. While it is difficult to have any sympathy for setting aside funds for lawyers rather than victims the results of the lawyers who are working through the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) haven't done a very good job for their clients if one is to judge by the outrageously arbitrary and chintzy payouts.

To further complicate matters the Department of Justice stuck its nose in the middle of this unseemly mess rather than crawling all over the GCCF when it is painfully obvious that the GCCF is doing a lot more re-victimizing than making victims whole. A pox on all of their houses.

Claimants challenge holdback in BP oil spill case

Reuters
4:34 p.m. CST, January 13, 2012

NEW YORK (Reuters) - In a flurry of court filings this week, lawyers for claimants before the $20 billion BP oil spill fund asked a federal judge to reconsider his December order requiring that six percent of future settlements be placed in a reserve account.

District Court judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans established the account on December 28 to potentially reward lawyers leading the BP multi-district litigation spawned by the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in 2010. Barbier said he had not decided to award the fees, but he wanted to have the option if he decided they were deserved. On January 4, Barbier amended his order to clarify the order would only affect claimants who hadn't received a determination letter from the BP fund as of December 31.

That clarification has not appeased lawyers for clients seeking compensation from the fund, known as the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which is being administered by Kenneth Feinberg. At least seven motions were filed Wednesday and Thursday asking Barbier to reconsider his order.

Lawyers who are appointed to lead complex litigation often ask courts to impose a common-benefit fee on resulting settlements and judgments to compensate them for their work developing witnesses and evidence.

But Gulf Coast Claims Facility claimants argued that Barbier cannot force them to contribute to the reserve account because he does not have the jurisdiction. They also said that the Plaintiffs Steering Committee, a group of more than a dozen lawyers Barbier chose two years ago to lead the multi-district litigation, had not made a sufficient showing that their work had benefited Gulf Coast Claims Facility claimants.
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Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice, which is a party to the oil spill litigation, objected to Barbier's order as well. In a filing made Thursday, the lawyers argued that holdbacks from Gulf Coast Claims Facility payments would conflict with the purpose of the Oil Pollution Act, which was supposed to give parties harmed by an oil spill an alternative to costly and lengthy litigation.




The Times-Picayune editorial page has finally taken note of the fact that the feuding between Louisiana's governor and Attorney General might not be in the state's best interests. One is left to wonder that if Jindal had the brains to take care of Caldwell's campaign contributors as well as his own if we would be seeing any conflict at all. Corruption has never seemed to have any adverse consequences to a politician's future prospects in Louisiana.

In BP case, legal ties are topsy turvy: James Gill

Sunday, January 15, 2012, 7:45 AM

Louisiana has fielded a double team in the litigation over the BP oil spill, but nobody appears to have told Gov. Bobby Jindal and Attorney General Buddy Caldwell that they are supposed to be on the same side. Jindal generally loses no opportunity to ingratiate himself with the right wing, where the orthodox view is that greedy trial lawyers are a canker on the republic. In this case, however, according to Caldwell, Jindal has exceeded his legal authority in advancing their interests at the expense of Louisiana taxpayers.

One of the law firms that stand to rake in plenty of moolah as a result is Baron & Budd of Dallas, a generous contributor to Jindal's election campaign. Jindal has hired Burton LeBlanc, a Baron & Budd shareholder, as his special counsel in the BP case. Another Baron & Budd shareholder, Scott Summy, has a seat on the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee that federal Judge Carl Barbier appointed to manage the case and divvy up the damages.

Barbier, as a former trial lawyer himself and a Clinton appointee, is the kind of judge conservatives might be expected to regard as practically a subversive. But when Barbier ordered a portion of all awards held back to pay off the lawyers, over Caldwell's vehement objections, Jindal's lawyers up and declared the deal jake with them.

Since Louisiana will be entitled to billions in compensation, the lawyers will be pocketing vast sums from the taxpayers whose interests Jindal is supposed to protect. Under Barbier's order, private plaintiffs must reserve 6 percent of their awards for the lawyers, public bodies 4 percent.

Jindal's team not only approved the bonanza, but pledged that the state would not appeal any awards that Barbier might approve for the plaintiffs' committee. Jindal signed an agreement to that effect, and invited Caldwell to do so, but he refused.

Caldwell, who had been under the impression that he was the state's top legal officer, protested that Jindal had no authority to intervene. Throwing in the towel before the opening bell was not Caldwell's idea of a prudent strategy, either.
...
The plaintiffs' committee's goal, naturally, is to grab as much loot as possible, but it is hard to see why huge chunks of our money should be set aside for lawyers who do not represent Louisiana or even get along with the man who was elected to do so. Louisiana stands to lose plenty from the deal; that 4 percent escrowed for the lawyers' benefit is urgently needed to repair the colossal environmental damage caused by the spill.

So our allegedly rock-ribbed governor takes up for the trial attorneys, while the attorney general is against them. The oil spill seems to have turned the entire state topsy turvy.




Florida had some the least physical damage from BP's black monster is it is refreshing to see the Pensacola News Journal's editorial page remembering their Gulf brethren in Louisiana. They also wisely point a fact that seems to be lost by many, that we may see more very bad news to come.
Editorial: Wait for the facts | Pensacola News Journal | pnj.com
1:00 PM, Jan. 11, 2012

Opinion

But BP's "blue sky" advertising campaign about how wonderful everything is along the Gulf Coast's marshes, bays and in the Gulf of Mexico has one flaw: The company should have waited until they actually know.

The fact is there remain serious questions about the impact of the oil spill on the Gulf Coast environment ... just as a lot of oil remains in marshes, wetlands and below the surface across the coast. As shrimpers in Louisiana point out, some areas remain closed to shrimping, and there's concern about harvests in some areas.

And no one knows if there are any nasty surprises to come in the future from the oil's impact on marine life.

The full impact of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska was not felt immediately, and came home with a thud when the herring fishery collapsed four years after the spill; it still has not recovered. We're not aware of anyone who can tell you that they yet know the full impact of the BP spill on the Gulf of Mexico.

White beaches and clear water are better than the alternative. But they are not proof that all is well.





Gulf backlash from BP's slimy, highly deceptive PR campaign.
Amid BCS mania, BP pushes a PR blitz to paint a rosy picture in aftermath of Gulf oil spill
Published: January 8

NEW ORLEANS — Nearly 20 months after its massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill — and just as the nation focuses on New Orleans, host of the BCS title game — BP is pushing a slick nationwide public relations campaign to persuade Americans that the Gulf region has recovered.

BP PLC’s rosy picture of the Gulf, complete with sparkling beaches, booming businesses, smiling fishermen and waters bursting with seafood, seems a bit too rosy to many people who live there. Even if the British oil giant’s campaign helps promote the Gulf as a place where Americans should have no fear to visit and spend their money, some dismiss it as “BP propaganda.”

The company is paying chefs Emeril Lagasse and John Besh to promote Gulf seafood, it’s hired two seafood trucks to hand out fish tacos and seafood-filled jambalaya to the hundreds of thousands of tourists and fans pouring into the city for the football games and it’s spreading its messages at galas, pre-game parties and vacation giveaways.

But the ad campaign rings hollow to many folks here.

“They talk about areas being all open. There are areas that are still closed,” said A.C. Cooper, a shrimp fisherman in Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana. He listed some bays and fishing spots that he says the state still has closed due to oil contamination. “It’s bogus, it’s not the truth.”

He added that last fall’s shrimp harvest was dismal. “The numbers on our shrimp are way down,” he said. “They (BP) make it sound like they’re doing a lot, but they’re not doing much to help the fishermen out ... I got good fishermen struggling to pay their bills right now.”

The head of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, a commercial shrimpers group, called it “BP propaganda.”

“When you have a lot of money, you can pretty much get any point across,” Clint Guidry complained. “It’s kind of like indoctrination.”

And businesses on the tourism-dependent Mississippi Gulf Coast say people aren’t flocking in.

For example, Bridgette Varone, head of the Gulf Coast chapter of the Mississippi Hospitality & Restaurant Association, said restaurants reported similar revenues in both 2010 and 2011 for the month of June, one of the busiest months.




More Gulf pushback against the BP media blitz. It's infuriating that the reality of the current situation as experienced by Gulf residents will never get similar attention.
Has BP made it right? Company still has work remaining to right wrongs of oil spill
The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Jan 14, 2012

Even while oil was spilling into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, British Petroleum, which was ultimately responsible for the rig that exploded, bought TV ads that claimed it would “make it right” for the people and the environment of the Gulf Coast.

BP now is running ads saying, in effect, that it has.

But don’t believe the latest ads. BP has done a great deal, but it has not made it right — not yet.

However, to the west, between Mobile Bay and Texas, BP still has a way to go.

Oil remains in the marshes, some areas are still closed to fishermen and shrimpers, and despite claims that tourism is better than ever, people are not coming back to the Mississippi coast the way they are returning to the Alabama and Florida beaches.

Shrimp harvests are still down, and studies are showing that the oil (and, in some cases, the dispersal agents used to break it up) may have caused long-term damage to fish and fauna.

George Crozier, former head of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, wishes that BP’s ads were “a little more apologetic and a little less triumphant.”

So do we.

BP has done a great deal to “make it right,” and that should be recognized. But there is more to do. Remember that when you see the ads.





Sadly, not a single peep amidst the BP gushing in this story about the risk of BP's largesse polluting the learning environment. BP has been very generous in spreading its ill-gotten gains in oil patch schools in an effort to turn our educational institutions into factories to produce BP lemmings.
BP donates $4 million to Fletcher
Published: Friday, January 13, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 13, 2012 at 11:04 p.m.
BP has donated $4 million to Fletcher Technical Community College for a new wing dedicated to training students for oilfield jobs.

The new Integrated Production Technologies center will be built alongside the school’s $19.1 million campus expansion on La. 311, which is under construction. It will include state-of-the art classrooms for college and high school students seeking oilfield jobs.

Fletcher Chancellor Travis Lavigne said the donation is the largest from a company he’s seen in his decades-long career at the school.

“To say that this is a big deal is an understatement,” Lavigne said. “This is going to let us provide new services to students in remarkable new ways.”

The new oilfield training center will include, at a minimum, a 4,000-square-foot learning laboratory, four classrooms, and six offices, Lavigne said.

The school has also submitted an application for a matching $4 million from the state’s “Centers of Excellence” program. If it gets that money, the school will add a second floor to make room for high-school students.

Terrebonne schools Superintendent Philip Martin said that will be a huge opportunity for local students who want to go into the oil industry.

“My vocabulary isn’t adequate to describe how much students are going to benefit from this,” Martin said.

Because the site is just down the road from BP’s training facility, students will be able to use the simulators and other equipment the company already has in place.

With the current generation of oilfield workers retiring soon, Dupree said the oil industry is about to undergo “the Big Crew Change,” even as safety standards and technology increase. At the same time, BP plans to expand its drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico — Dupree said he hopes to grow the company’s Gulf presence from five rigs to at least eight rigs by year’s end.

That means BP needs areas like Houma-Thibodaux to crank out experienced workers faster than ever.
...
The 89,000-square-foot campus expansion to which the BP-funded project will be attached will more than double the school’s classroom space, which administrators say is long overdue. The new campus is scheduled to open in August.





The logic of allowing a company to profit from stock sales in the U.S. yet allowing them the luxury of home turf courts when they screw their U.S. stockholders over totally escapes me.
New Orleans shareholders suing BP fight English jurisdiction
1/9/2012 9:47 PM 

NEW ORLEANS - New Orleans city pension trustees leading shareholder litigation against BP directors over the Deepwater Horizon explosion want to hold their American ground rather than submit to jurisdiction of the English High Court.

On Jan. 3, trustees filed notice that they would petition the federal court for the Fifth Circuit appellate judges in New Orleans to overturn an order sending their claims to Britain, headquarters of BP.

U. S. District Judge Keith Ellison of Houston ruled in BP's favor last year, dismissing claims of New Orleans and other shareholders under British law.

New Orleans filed the notice alone, after previously acting as leader among three pension funds and seven individuals pursuing a class action.

Robert Weintraub, Daniel Krasner, and Gregory Nespole -- all of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman and Herz in New York -- filed the notice.

Ellison dismissed it in September, finding the Companies Act expressly permits litigation of derivative claims before the English High Court.

"This court has already decided that England is the appropriate alternative forum and thus declines to superimpose U. S. procedural rules there," he wrote.

"It would be premature for this court to condition the terms of enforcement of a foreign law judgment in a case that has not even been filed," he wrote.




A brief bit about the ongoing saga of the battle between BP and its Russian business partners. The latest involves accusations of police harassment of people who have filed lawsuits against BP.
TNK-BP Minority Investors Seek Presidential Protection in Letter
Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Minority shareholders in OAO TNK-BP Holding, the traded unit of a Russian oil venture half-owned by BP Plc, asked President Dmitry Medvedev to protect their rights as they seek damages from the board representatives for the U.K. energy company.

The six minority shareholders say they were threatened with criminal prosecutions after filing a suit against the BP directors, according to an open letter published today in the Vedomosti newspaper, which was published as an advertisement. They also asked Medvedev to order a hearing of their complaint.

TNK-BP’s press service declined to immediately comment on the letter.




A tiny shareholder is attempting to carry on the legal battle against BP despite harassment from Russian law enforcement. I don't foresee the Russian court system doing any favors for anyone but the wealthy but one has to admire the Prokhorov's pluck.
Electrician leads minority shareholder action against BP in Siberia
Sunday 15 January 2012 09.50 EST

A lone electrician is pressing ahead with a multibillion-pound legal claim against BP with a hearing in Siberia.

Andrey Prokhorov, a tiny shareholder in BP's Russian joint venture TNK-BP, is fronting a minority shareholder action following the UK-listed firm's failed efforts to sign a separate Russian partnership with the state oil group Rosneft last year.

In two cases that currently total around R500bn (£10bn) Prokhorov is claiming that BP damaged TNK-BP – which is jointly owned by the British-based oil group and a collection of Russian billionaires – by preventing it from participating in the proposed Arctic alliance with Rosneft.

That deal collapsed last year, causing huge embarrassment to BP, when the Russian billionaires fought their own successful legal action against their British partners to block the deal.

Both of Prokhorov's two claims have already been rejected by the Russian courts, but in an appeal hearing in the appellate court in Omsk, Siberia, the minority shareholder will seek to invalidate a resolution by the TNK-BP board not to join a class action against the TNK-BP directors nominated by BP, who Prokhorov says must have known about BP's Rosneft intentions.

The electrical engineer is believed to own 0.0000106% of TNK-BP, which his lawyers Liniya Prava say he acquired when the forerunner to TNK-BP was privatised by the Russian government. In total, all minority shareholders own less than 1%.

Liniya Prava has claimed that its clients have come under pressure from local law enforcement bodies to drop their claims, although that has been denied by the agencies. Meanwhile, Rosneft has consistently said it would not have considered offering the partnership deal to TNK-BP, which it says lacked BP's expertise in offshore development.

However, the constant pressure of legal cases is having an effect. Last month, Gerhard Schroeder, the former German chancellor, and Jim Leng, the ex-Corus chairman, both resigned as independent directors of TNK-BP. They were understood to have grown tired of the stream of legal battles.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Hope everyone else is enjoying some spring weather (7+ / 0-)

    Here in Kansas 65 degree temps in mid-January are nearly unheard of. I'm trying not to let my worries about climate change interfere with my delight in the unexpected warmth and sunshine.

  •  I haven't found any shrimping news either. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peraspera, Lorinda Pike, KenBee, rubyr, DawnN
    •  No news isn't necessarily good news. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lorinda Pike, KenBee, rubyr, DawnN

      One of the news stories on the disastrous white shrimp season mentioned that official data would not be released for some months, sometime in the spring if I recollect correctly. One of the larger processors reported a more than 90% drop in the shrimp that came into their facility so I don't expect the official numbers to be good news.

      The news about the tiger shrimp is one more worry that the shrimpers surely don't need. :(

  •  Hey pera!!! I guess because it's a holiday, I (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lorinda Pike, DawnN, peraspera

    was thinking it is Sunday. I am sorry for the 100th time to
    be late. Thank you so much for the amazing amount of material in this diary. I don't know how you ones do it. Such a service you all are providing for people like me and for the whole Gulf Coast. As always, deepest respect.

    We were having weather in the 60s last week and it was a
    little creepy. Then a plunge to 15-22 degrees and now, I think, we are on the rise again. It's crazy. Enjoy the balmy days.

    Hello Gulf Watchers!!! Hope all are well and happy.

    love.  

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

    by rubyr on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 05:49:38 PM PST

    •  Never worry about being late here. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rubyr

      It's always nice to see come by no matter what the time.

      We've got winter temps coming in tomorrow but I'm not complaining. So far, winter has been unseasonably warm and today was just glorious. Hope the rest of winter doesn't try to make up for the warmth and lack of ice and snow storms later.

      •  I hope you don't get this pattern of schizo (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peraspera

        weather like we are having but it sounds like you are about to.

        Thanks for being understanding about the timing. I am late but I am loyal...just like my friend, DawnN.

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

        by rubyr on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 07:16:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  THIS -- (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lorinda Pike, DawnN, peraspera
    ...many things need to go wrong for such a disaster to occur; thus, the company has many opportunities to break the chain of failure. It takes a culture that gives little respect to the concept of risk management for so many disastrous mistakes to be possible...

    -- is the saddest thing of all. The heart breaks.

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

    by rubyr on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 06:05:57 PM PST

  •  True dis!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DawnN, peraspera
    Corruption has never seemed to have any adverse consequences to a politician's future prospects in Louisiana.

    In fact, it seems to help.

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

    by rubyr on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 06:33:06 PM PST

    •  I think they figure the devil (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rubyr

      you know is better than the one you don't. When I was spending a lot of time in Louisiana I was surprised that the corruption was so endemic that people talked about it fairly openly even when they were participants.

  •  Well, allthecursewordsIcanthinkof. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rubyr, peraspera

    It just doesn't get better - no one seems to want to do the right thing.

    A Risk Management Debacle. Well, yeah.

    pera, I wish you were running NOAA or whatever they call it now. With smiting power.

    “Wall Street owns the country. The parties lie to us, and the political speakers mislead us.” - Mary Elizabeth Lease, 1890. It's late. Occupy everywhere.

    by DawnN on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 06:42:25 PM PST

    •  Oh yeah, if pera was running it, some righteous (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peraspera, DawnN

      stuff would finally get done. Brilliant idea!

      Hope you are having fun with the grand babies.

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

      by rubyr on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 06:44:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I doubt that anyone will ever again be (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rubyr, DawnN

      allowed to run NOAA properly. There is too much money at stake that drives the politics of the agency.  Lubchenco would give any Bush appointee a good run for their money for being an industry lackey.

  •  Now they are saying that the cruise ship (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peraspera

    in Italy could leak huge amounts of fuel into the water, which
    is near a dolphin sanctuary.

    I hope that they can prevent that from happening.

    http://www.toledoblade.com/...  

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

    by rubyr on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 08:13:04 PM PST

  •  Where is Phil? Where in the world? n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peraspera

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

    by rubyr on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 08:14:21 PM PST

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