|BP Oil Spill Update 5/28/2010, 1:00 PM
Last night on CNN,
Democratic partisan James Carville said that Grand
Juries need to be immediately impaneled to investigate criminal
violations by BP. This, Carville said, would provide stronger
"incentive" for BP Executives/board members to do absolutely as much
as they can to minimize the damage to the Gulf coast. (Prison vs.
Better Effort/More money spent to protect the coast?).
Company Says It Has Solution For Gulf Oil Spill, But Being Ignored
Why won’t BP and the U.S. Government consider this solution to the
Gulf oil spill disaster?
[This video originated from Tampa’s WTSP:
I’ve not been able to locate the Columbian company highlighted in this
[BP/The Govt. are apparently maintaining a lock on important
“proprietary data” about the geology of the drill/well seafloor
disaster area; this information is critically important for assessing
alternative solutions to stopping the oil volvano]
Rumor: Secretary of the Navy Wants to Sink a Battleship On Top of the Oil
The government must publicly release details of the geology under the
spill site. The American people - and people in Mexico, Cuba and other
countries which might be affected by the spill - have a right to know
what we're dealing with.
Until it does so, people will not have be understand what is going on.
And failing to release such information may prevent creative
scientists from around the world from coming up with a workable
And for crying out loud, have a submarine check out this rumor
( Prominent Oil Industry Insider: "There's Another Leak, Much Bigger,
5 to 6 Miles Away"
) to either debunk or confirm it.
10 Things You Need (But Don’t Want) To Know About the BP Oil Spill
May 27, 2010
It’s been 37 days since BP’s offshore oil rig, Deepwater Horizon,
exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, crude oil has been
hemorrhaging into ocean waters and wreaking unknown havoc on our
ecosystem — unknown because there is no accurate estimate of how many
barrels of oil are contaminating the Gulf.
Though BP officially admits to only a few thousand barrels spilled
each day, expert estimates peg the damage at 60,000 barrels or over
2.5 million gallons daily. (Perhaps we’d know more if BP hadn’t barred
independent engineers from inspecting the breach.) Measures to quell
the gusher have proved lackluster at best, and unlike the country’s
last big oil spill — Exxon-Valdez in 1989 — the oil is coming from the
ground, not a tanker, so we have no idea how much more oil could
continue to pollute the Gulf’s waters.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster reminds us what can happen — and will
continue to happen — when corporate malfeasance and neglect meet
governmental regulatory failure.
The corporate media is tracking the disaster with front-page articles
and nightly news headlines every day (if it bleeds, or spills, it
leads!), but the under-reported aspects to this nightmarish tale paint
the most chilling picture of the actors and actions behind the
catastrophe. In no particular order, here are 10 things about the BP
spill you may not know and may not want to know — but you should.
1. Oil rig owner has made $270 million off the oil leak
Transocean Ltd., the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig leased by BP,
has been flying under the radar in the mainstream blame game. The
world’s largest offshore drilling contractor, the company is
conveniently headquartered in corporate-friendly Switzerland, and it’s
no stranger to oil disasters. In 1979, an oil well it was drilling in
the very same Gulf of Mexico ignited, sending the drill platform into
the sea and causing one of the largest oil spills by the time it was
capped… nine months later.
This experience undoubtedly influenced Transocean’s decision to insure
the Deepwater Horizon rig for about twice what it was worth. In a
conference call to analysts earlier this month, Transocean reported
making a $270 million profit from insurance payouts after the
disaster. It’s not hard to bet on failure when you know it’s somewhat
2. BP has a terrible safety record
BP has a long record of oil-related disasters in the United States. In
2005, BP’s Texas City refinery exploded, killing 15 workers and
injuring another 170. The next year, one of its Alaska pipelines
leaked 200,000 gallons of crude oil. According to Public Citizen, BP
has paid $550 million in fines. BP seems to particularly enjoy
violating the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and has paid the two
largest fines in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s
history. (Is it any surprise that BP played a central, though greatly
under-reported, role in the failure to contain the Exxon-Valdez spill
With Deepwater Horizon, BP didn’t break its dismal trend. In addition
to choosing a cheaper — and less safe — casing to outfit the well that
eventually burst, the company chose not to equip Deepwater Horizon
with an acoustic trigger, a last-resort option that could have shut
down the well even if it was damaged badly, and which is required in
most developed countries that allow offshore drilling. In fact, BP
employs these devices in its rigs located near England, but because
the United States recommends rather than requires them, BP had no
incentive to buy one — even though they only cost $500,000.
SeizeBP.org estimates that BP makes $500,000 in under eight minutes.
3. Oil spills are just a cost of doing business for BP
According to the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies,
approximately $1.6 billion in annual economic activity and services
are at risk as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Compare
this number — which doesn’t include the immeasurable environmental
damages — to the current cap on BP’s liability for economic damages
like lost wages and tourist dollars, which is $75 million. And compare
that further to the first-quarter profits BP posted just one week
after the explosion: $6 billion.
BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, has solemnly promised that the
company will cover more than the required $75 million. On May 10, BP
announced it had already spent $350 million. How fantastically
generous of a company valued at $152.6 billion, and which makes $93
million each day.
The reality of the matter is that BP will not be deterred by the
liability cap and pity payments doled out to a handful of victims of
this disaster because they pale in comparison to its ghastly profits.
Indeed, oil spills are just a cost of doing business for BP.
This is especially evident in a recent Citigroup analyst report
prepared for BP investors: “Reaction to the Gulf of Mexico oil leak is
a buying opportunity.”
4. The Interior Department was at best, neglectful, and at worst, complicit
It’s no surprise BP is always looking out for its bottom line — but
it’s at least slightly more surprising that the Interior Department,
the executive department charged with regulating the oil industry, has
done such a shoddy job of preventing this from happening.
Ten years ago, there were already warnings that the backup systems on
oil rigs that failed on Deepwater Horizon would be a problem. The
Interior Department issued a “safety alert” but then left it up to oil
companies to decide what kind of backup system to use. And in 2007, a
government regulator from the same department downplayed the chances
and impact of a spill like the one that occurred last month:
“[B]lowouts are rare events and of short duration, potential impact to
marine water quality are not expected to be significant.”
The Interior Department’s Louisiana branch may have been particularly
confused because it appears it was closely fraternizing with the oil
industry. The Minerals Management Service, the agency within the
department that oversees offshore drilling, routinely accepted gifts
from oil companies and even considered itself a part of the oil
industry, rather than part of a governmental regulatory agency. Flying
on oil executives’ private planes was not rare for MMS inspectors in
Louisiana, a federal report released Tuesday says. “Skeet-shooting
contests, hunting and fishing trips, golf tournaments, crawfish boils,
and Christmas parties” were also common.
Is it any wonder that Deepwater Horizon was given a regulatory exclusion by
It gets worse. Since April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig
exploded, the Interior Department has approved 27 new permits for
offshore drilling sites. Here’s the kicker: Two of these permits are
But it gets better still: 26 of the 27 new drilling sites have been
granted regulatory exemptions, including those issued to BP.
5. Clean-up prospects are dismal
The media makes a lot of noise about all the different methods BP is
using to clean up the oil spill. Massive steel containment domes were
popular a few weeks ago. Now everyone is touting the “top kill”
method, which involves injecting heavy drilling fluids into the
But here’s the reality. Even if BP eventually finds a method that
works, experts say the best cleanup scenario is to recover 20 percent
of the spilled oil. And let’s be realistic: only 8 percent of the
crude oil deposited in the ocean and coastlines off Alaska was
recovered in the Exxon-Valdez cleanup.
Millions of gallons of oil will remain in the ocean, ravaging the
underwater ecosystem, and 100 miles of Louisiana coastline will never
be the same.
6. BP has no real cleanup plan
Perhaps because it knows the possibility of remedying the situation is
practically impossible, BP has made publicly available its laughable
“Oil Spill Response Plan” which is, in fact, no plan at all.
Most emblematic of this farcical plan, BP mentions protecting Arctic
wildlife like sea lions, otters and walruses (perhaps executives
simply lifted the language from Exxon’s plan for its oil spill off the
coast of Alaska?). The plan does not include any disease-preventing
measures, oceanic or meteorological data, and is comprised mostly of
phone numbers and blank forms. Most importantly, it includes no
directions for how to deal with a deep-water explosion such as the one
that took place last month.
The whole thing totals 600 pages — a waste of paper that only adds
insult to the environmental injury BP is inflicting upon the world
with Deepwater Horizon.
7. BP is sequestering survivors and taking away their right to sue
With each hour, the economic damage caused by Deepwater Horizon
continues to grow. And BP knows this.
So while it outwardly is putting on a nice face, even pledging $500
million to assess the impacts of the spill, it has all the while been
trying to ensure that it won’t be held liable for those same impacts.
Just after the Deepwater explosion, surviving employees were held in
solitary confinement, while BP flacks made them waive their rights to
sue. BP then did the same with fishermen it contracted to help clean
up the spill though the company now says that was nothing more than a
If there’s anything to learn from this disaster, it’s that companies
like BP don’t make mistakes at the expense of others. They are
8. BP bets on risk to employees to save money — and doesn’t care if
they get sick
When BP unleashed its “Beyond Petroleum” re-branding/greenwashing
campaign, the snazzy ads featured smiley oil rig workers. But the
truth of the matter is that BP consistently and knowingly puts its
employees at risk.
An internal BP document shows that just before the prior fatal
disaster — the 2005 Texas City explosion that killed 15 workers and
injured 170 — when BP had to choose between cost-savings and greater
safety, it went with its bottom line.
A BP Risk Management memo showed that although steel trailers would be
safer in the case of an explosion, the company went with less
expensive options that offered protection but were not “blast
resistant.” In the Texas City blast, all of the fatalities and most of
the injuries occurred in or around these trailers.
Although BP has responded to this memo by saying the company culture
has changed since Texas City, 11 people died on the Deepwater Horizon
when it blew up. Perhaps a similar memo went out regarding safety and
Reports this week stated that fishermen hired by BP for oil cleanup
weren’t provided protective equipment and have now fallen ill.
Hopefully they didn’t sign waivers.
9. Environmental damage could even include a climatological catastrophe
It’s hard to know where to start discussing the environmental damage
caused by Deepwater Horizon. Each day will give us a clearer picture
of the short-term ecological destruction, but environmental experts
believe the damage to the Gulf of Mexico will be long-term.
In the short-term, environmentalists are up in arms about the
dispersants being used to clean up the oil slick in the Gulf.
Apparently, the types BP is using aren’t all that effective in
dispersing oil, and are pretty high in toxicity to marine fauna such
as fish and shrimp. The fear is that what BP may be using to clean up
the mess could, in the long-term, make it worse.
On the longer-term side of things, there are signs that this largest
oil drilling catastrophe could also become the worst natural gas and
The explosion has released tremendous amounts of methane from deep in
the ocean, and research shows that methane, when mixed with air, is
the most powerful (read: terrible) greenhouse gas — 26 times worse
Our warming planet just got a lot hotter.
10. No one knows what to do and it will happen again
The very worst part about the Deepwater Horizon calamity is that
nobody knows what to do. We don’t know how bad it really is because we
can’t measure what’s going on. We don’t know how to stop it — and once
we do, we won’t know how to clean it up.
BP is at the helm of the recovery process, but given its corporate
track record, its efforts will only go so far — it has a board of
directors and shareholders to answer to, after all. The U.S.
government, the only other entity that could take over is currently
content to let BP hack away at the problem. Why? Because it probably
has no idea what to do either.
Here’s the reality of the matter — for as long as offshore drilling is
legal, oil spills will happen. Coastlines will be decimated, oceans
destroyed, economies ruined, lives lost. Oil companies have little to
no incentive to prevent such disasters from happening, and they use
their money to buy government regulators’ integrity.
Deepwater Horizon is not an anomaly — it’s the norm.