USA: Oil companies launch deep-water spill containment system in hopes of obtaining new drilling permits

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Article
22 February 2011

BP reneges on deal to rebuild oyster beds, repair wetlands, Louisiana officials say [USA]

Author: Mark Schleifstein, Times-Picayune [USA]

BP has reneged on promises made in November to negotiate early payments to Louisiana to help rebuild oyster beds, repair damaged wetlands and build a fish hatchery to allow the state to respond immediately to the collapse of commercial fisheries in the wake of the BP Gulf oil spill, state officials said Monday... Department of Wildlife & Fisheries director Robert Barham...said [BP] has clearly moved from a public relations strategy to one focusing on litigation over whether damage to the state's oyster beds was BP's fault...A spokesman for BP's new Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, now leading the oil spill response effort in Louisiana, could not be reached for comment Monday night.

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Article
17 February 2011

BP Says Spill Settlement Terms Are Too Generous [USA]

Author: John Schwartz, New York Times

...[S]ince Kenneth R. Feinberg took over the $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, he has been attacked by many...who argue that the process is opaque, arbitrary and slow. Many...have also argued that Mr. Feinberg’s...estimates of future damage...are too optimistic, and thus his offer of compensation in a final settlement is too low. Now he is getting complaints from...BP...[which] is arguing that...Mr. Feinberg’s proposed settlements are too generous. The planned payments far exceed the extent of likely future damages..., the company insists in a strongly worded 24-page document...Final payments will begin after the two-week public comment period, which ended Wednesday...This very public disagreement between BP and the administrator of its fund would seem to undercut the other major attack on Mr. Feinberg..., [that he] is actually working in the oil company’s interests...[BP's] statement gives no indication that BP plans to intercede in the process it handed off to Mr. Feinberg...

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Article
17 February 2011

Oil spill response system launched [USA]

Author: Sheila McNulty, Financial Times

Oil companies on Thursday launched a spill containment system in the Gulf of Mexico in a bid to restart the issuance of permits stalled after BP’s fatal Macondo well disaster. ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips unveiled the interim containment system, which they said was open to all operators in the gulf. A second response system, by Helix Energy Solutions Group, is to be ready at the end of March. The move comes in the wake of the first bankruptcy to emerge from the slowdown in drilling imposed by regulators in the Gulf of Mexico...Randy Stilley, Seahawk’s chief executive...[said]: “The decision by regulators to arbitrarily construct unnecessary barriers to obtaining permits...has had an adverse impact...on the sector as a whole.’’...[The] Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement said it was investigating an incident on Apache Corporation’s natural gas production platform off Lake Charles, Louisiana, on February 16 in which a worker died...

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Article
15 February 2011

Suit says BP official resigned over safety issues [USA]

Author: Associated Press

A former official with BP's drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico resigned just months before last year's oil spill because of disagreements with the oil giant over its commitment to safety, according to a class-action federal lawsuit...Documents filed [in the case]...claim Kevin Lacy, BP's former senior vice president for drilling operations for the Gulf of Mexico,...resign[ed] in December 2009 because he believed the company was not adequately committed to improving safety protocols in offshore drilling operations...The claims come in...[a] lawsuit...that alleges BP inflated its stock price by hiding information and making false and misleading statements about its safety practices before the Gulf of Mexico oil spill...BP spokesman Daren Beaudo declined to comment on the lawsuit...The amended complaint claims that a company reorganization that began in 2007...resulted in numerous layoffs and cuts to safety budgets... [also refers to Transocean, Halliburton]

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Article
11 February 2011

Seafood leaders lobby in D.C. [USA]

Author: Nikki Busey, Daily Comet [Louisiana, USA]

Louisiana lawmakers are demanding that BP immediately pay $15 million to help restore Louisiana oyster habitats damaged during the Gulf oil spill. Getting that request filled is one of many goals of a team of oyster industry leaders, including Houma’s Mike Voisin, owner of Motivatit Seafoods, who headed to Washington, D.C., this week to lobby for help for the coast and the seafood industry after the BP spill. “It is critical that BP help restore and rebuild these oyster habitats that were damaged from the oil spill. Oysters are more than just a delicacy — they’re part of Louisiana’s vibrant culture and a way of life,” Voisin said. “BP should make this small down payment.” As much as half of Louisiana’s oyster crop was wiped out this summer not by oil but by freshwater diversions opened by the state in an effort to flush oil out of wetlands...Oysters typically spawn twice a year, in May or June and late August or September. The spill ruined the last spring and fall reproductive seasons.

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