Some oil spill events from Thursday, July 8, 2010
A summary of events Thursday, July 8, Day 79 of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that began with the April 20 explosion and fire on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP PLC, which is in charge of cleanup and containment. The blast killed 11 workers. Since then, oil has been pouring into the Gulf from a blown-out undersea well.
RELIEF IS WELL
A relief well being drilled deep into the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico to shut down the gushing well could be completed ahead of a long-set deadline of mid-August only if conditions are ideal. National Incident Commander Thad Allen said the relief well is expected to intercept and penetrate the Deepwater Horizon well pipe about 18,000 feet below sea level within seven to 10 days. But they won’t know how long it will take to stop the oil until they get there. If everything goes perfectly and weather doesn’t intervene, it could begin working by late July.
Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle said Thursday she was wrong in calling BP oil’s $20 billion victims’ compensation program “a slush fund,” backtracking just hours after her widely criticized remark. She told a Las Vegas radio station that President Barack Obama strong-armed BP executives to set up the fund. “My position is that the creation of this fund to compensate victims was an important first step — BP caused this disaster and they should pay for it,” she said a day later.
FLORIDA DRILLING BAN?
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has called a special session of the state Legislature to get a constitutional ban on offshore oil drilling in Florida waters on the November ballot. The session will be held July 20 to July 23. Crist said he has the support of Panhandle legislators, where some beaches have been oiled by the massive Gulf of Mexico spill. But legislative leaders in areas so far unaffected have been uncooperative. The amendment would require 60 percent approval from voters in November.
ANOTHER WHALE OF A TEST
The giant Taiwanese oil skimmer known as ‘A Whale’ is getting another chance to prove its value in the Gulf of Mexico. But the leader of the federal response, Thad Allen, doubts the effectiveness of the “A Whale.” Allen said Thursday it seems more useful in a huge pool of oil than in thousands of smaller slicks. Bob Grantham, spokesman for TMT Shipping, says the U.S. Coast Guard has approved another week of testing.
An outspoken Louisiana official wants the Coast Guard to lift restrictions on news organizations covering the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said he’s drafting a letter to the Coast Guard, BP and President Obama opposing a recent rule keeping the public and media about 65 feet from containment boom and vessels participating in the cleanup. He says the only way to maintain public confidence in the cleanup is to make it as transparent as possible.
The exasperation with BP felt by residents of the Gulf states is spreading to shareholders — and some are taking the oil giant to court. BP shares have lost about $85 billion in value. The toll for institutional investors who hold 79 percent of the company — including public and private pension plans — is around $67 billion. At least five individual investor suits have been filed, along with BP employees.
Kevin Costner’s company has sent an oil-skimming vessel to help clean some of the crude that has fouled the Gulf of Mexico. The actor told workers and visitors “the machine I once dreamed of is here to help you.” The Ella G, now one of the Vessels of Opportunity, was retrofitted to receive oil and water from the skimmer, separate the oil and place it in storage tanks, and return the cleaned water to the Gulf. It had once been an offshore supply barge.
THE TOTAL …
The well has spewed between 86 and 169 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, according to federal estimates. That’s enough oil to fill about 3.4 million standard bathtubs.