Thursday, June 24, 2010

BP Gulf Oil Spill - Insiders Video

Kindra Arnesen was granted security clearence from BP to attend meetings and this is her report of what she witnessed...

Video Link

Fisherman's wife breaks the silence
By Elizabeth Cohen, CNN
June 3, 2010 7:49 a.m. EDT

Venice, Louisiana (CNN) -- Kindra Arnesen's husband often calls while he's out on a shrimping trip, so she wasn't surprised to hear her cell phone ring the night of April 29 while he was on an overnight fishing expedition.

However, this time, her husband, David, wasn't calling to tell her about the day's catch or to wish their children Aleena and David Jr. a good night. He was calling to tell her he was sick, and the strange thing about it, so were men on the seven other shrimping boats working near his.

"I received several calls from him saying, 'This one's hanging over the boat throwing up. This one says he's dizzy, and he's feeling faint. Everybody's loading up their stuff, tying up their rigs and going back to the docks,'" Arnesen remembers.

Arnesen believes it was vapors from the oil and the dispersants from the BP Gulf oil disaster that made her husband and the other shrimpers sick. She says they were downwind of it, and the smell was "so strong they could almost taste it."

en David Arnesen reported that the other men were so sick they were cutting their shrimping trips short and heading home, his wife knew something strange was happening. Shrimpers work through illness, she says, because a trip cut short can cost a shrimper thousands of dollars.

She says the men had all the same symptoms at the same time -- vomiting, dizziness, headaches, shortness of breath. Could it be a coincidence?

"I don't believe in coincidence. It would be one thing if one of them got sick. It would maybe be OK if two got sick," she says. "When everyone's getting sick all at the same time, that's not coincidence"

The night her husband became ill, Arnesen says, she tried to get him to come home like the other shrimpers, but he refused. He stayed out fishing from 6 p.m. until 9 a.m. the next morning, and came home so sick he collapsed into his recliner without eating dinner or saying hello to her or the children.

"It's a nasty cough. I literally woke him up over and over again," she says. "It didn't sound like he was getting enough air.

At first, David refused to see a doctor, but after three weeks of coughing and feeling weak, he agreed to go. His wife says he was diagnosed with respiratory problems and prescribed medicines, including an antibiotic and cough medicines.

She says while he's feeling better, he still doesn't have the energy he used to have.

"Here we are over a month later and he's still not completely well," she says.

"Am I scared? Yes," she said. "Anything that ever starts, starts with one. And if I have to be the one then I have to be the one," she says.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill "Could Go on for Years and Years" ...

The Obama Administration and senior BP officials are frantically working not to stop the world’s worst oil disaster, but to hide the true extent of the actual ecological catastrophe. Senior researchers tell us that the BP drilling hit one of the oil migration channels and that the leakage could continue for years unless decisive steps are undertaken, something that seems far from the present strategy.

In a recent discussion, Vladimir Kutcherov, Professor at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and the Russian State University of Oil and Gas, predicted that the present oil spill flooding the Gulf Coast shores of the United States “could go on for years and years … many years.” [1]

According to Kutcherov, a leading specialist in the theory of abiogenic deep origin of petroleum, “What BP drilled into was what we call a ‘migration channel,’ a deep fault on which hydrocarbons generated in the depth of our planet migrate to the crust and are accumulated in rocks, something like Ghawar in Saudi Arabia.”[2] Ghawar, the world’s most prolific oilfield has been producing millions of barrels daily for almost 70 years with no end in sight. According to the abiotic science, Ghawar like all elephant and giant oil and gas deposits all over the world, is located on a migration channel similar to that in the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico.

As I wrote at the time of the January 2010 Haiti earthquake disaster,[3] Haiti had been identified as having potentially huge hydrocasrbon reserves, as has neighboring Cuba. Kutcherov estimates that the entire Gulf of Mexico is one of the planet’s most abundant accessible locations to extract oil and gas, at least before the Deepwater Horizon event this April.

“In my view the heads of BP reacted with panic at the scale of the oil spewing out of the well,” Kutcherov adds. “What is inexplicable at this point is why they are trying one thing, failing, then trying a second, failing, then a third. Given the scale of the disaster they should try every conceivable option, even if it is ten, all at once in hope one works. Otherwise, this oil source could spew oil for years given the volumes coming to the surface already.” [4]

He stresses, “It is difficult to estimate how big this leakage is. There is no objective information available.” But taking into consideration information about the last BP ‘giant’ discovery in the Gulf of Mexico, the Tiber field, some six miles deep, Kutcherov agrees with Ira Leifer a researcher in the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara who says the oil may be gushing out at a rate of more than 100,000 barrels a day.[5]

What the enormoity of the oil spill does is to also further discredit clearly the oil companies’ myth of “peak oil” which claims that the world is at or near the “peak” of economical oil extraction. That myth, which has been propagated in recent years by circles close to former oilman and Bush Vice President, Dick Cheney, has been effectively used by the giant oil majors to justify far higher oil prices than would be politically possible otherwise, by claiming a non-existent petroleum scarcity crisis.

Obama & BP Try to Hide

According to a report from Washington investigative journalist Wayne Madsen, “the Obama White House and British Petroleum are covering up the magnitude of the volcanic-level oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and working together to limit BP’s liability for damage caused by what can be called a ‘mega-disaster.’” [6] Madsen cites sources within the US Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection for his assertion.

Obama and his senior White House staff, as well as Interior Secretary Salazar, are working with BP’s chief executive officer Tony Hayward on legislation that would raise the cap on liability for damage claims from those affected by the oil disaster from $75 million to $10 billion. According to informed estimates cited by Madsen, however, the disaster has a real potential cost of at least $1,000 billion ($1 trillion). That estimate would support the pessimistic assessment of Kutcherov that the spill, if not rapidly controlled, “will destroy the entire coastline of the United States.”

According to the Washington report of Madsen, BP statements that one of the leaks has been contained, are “pure public relations disinformation designed to avoid panic and demands for greater action by the Obama administration., according to FEMA and Corps of Engineers sources.” [7]

The White House has been resisting releasing any “damaging information” about the oil disaster. Coast Guard and Corps of Engineers experts estimate that if the ocean oil geyser is not stopped within 90 days, there will be irreversible damage to the marine eco-systems of the Gulf of Mexico, north Atlantic Ocean, and beyond. At best, some Corps of Engineers experts say it could take two years to cement the chasm on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. [8]

Only after the magnitude of the disaster became evident did Obama order Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano to declare the oil disaster a “national security issue.” Although the Coast Guard and FEMA are part of her department, Napolitano’s actual reasoning for invoking national security, according to Madsen, was merely to block media coverage of the immensity of the disaster that is unfolding for the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean and their coastlines.

The Obama administration also conspired with BP to hide the extent of the oil leak, according to the cited federal and state sources. After the oil rig exploded and sank, the government stated that 42,000 gallons per day were gushing from the seabed chasm. Five days later, the federal government upped the leakage to 210,000 gallons a day. However, submersibles monitoring the escaping oil from the Gulf seabed are viewing television pictures of what they describe as a “volcanic-like” eruption of oil.

When the Army Corps of Engineers first attempted to obtain NASA imagery of the Gulf oil slick, which is larger than is being reported by the media, it was reportedly denied the access. By chance, National Geographic managed to obtain satellite imagery shots of the extent of the disaster and posted them on their web site. Other satellite imagery reportedly being withheld by the Obama administration, shows that what lies under the gaping chasm spewing oil at an ever-alarming rate is a cavern estimated to be the size of Mount Everest. This information has been given an almost national security-level classification to keep it from the public, according to Madsen’s sources.

The Corps of Engineers and FEMA are reported to be highly critical of the lack of support for quick action after the oil disaster by the Obama White House and the US Coast Guard. Only now has the Coast Guard understood the magnitude of the disaster, dispatching nearly 70 vessels to the affected area. Under the loose regulatory measures implemented by the Bush-Cheney Administration, the US Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service became a simple “rubber stamp,” approving whatever the oil companies wanted in terms of safety precautions that could have averted such a disaster. Madsen describes a state of “criminal collusion” between Cheney’s former firm, Halliburton, and the Interior Department’s MMS, and that the potential for similar disasters exists with the other 30,000 off-shore rigs that use the same shut-off valves. [9]

Silence from Eco groups?... Follow the money

Without doubt at this point we are in the midst of what could be the greatest ecological catastrophe in history. The oil platform explosion took place almost within the current loop where the Gulf Stream originates. This has huge ecological and climatological consequences.

A cursory look at a map of the Gulf Stream shows that the oil is not just going to cover the beaches in the Gulf, it will spread to the Atlantic coasts up through North Carolina then on to the North Sea and Iceland. And beyond the damage to the beaches, sea life and water supplies, the Gulf stream has a very distinct chemistry, composition (marine organisms), density, temperature. What happens if the oil and the dispersants and all the toxic compounds they create actually change the nature of the Gulf Stream? No one can rule out potential changes including changes in the path of the Gulf Stream, and even small changes could have huge impacts. Europe, including England, is not an icy wasteland due to the warming from the Gulf Stream.

Yet there is a deafening silence from the very environmental organizations which ought to be at the barricades demanding that BP, the US Government and others act decisively.

That deafening silence of leading green or ecology organizations such as Greenpeace, Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club and others may well be tied to a money trail that leads right back to the oil industry, notably to BP. Leading environmental organizations have gotten significant financial payoffs in recent years from BP in order that the oil company could remake itself with an “environment-friendly face,” as in “beyond petroleum” the company’s new branding.

The Nature Conservancy, described as “the world’s most powerful environmental group,”[10] has awarded BP a seat on its International Leadership Council after the oil company gave the organization more than $10 million in recent years. [11]

Until recently, the Conservancy and other environmental groups worked with BP in a coalition that lobbied Congress on climate-change issues. An employee of BP Exploration serves as an unpaid Conservancy trustee in Alaska. In addition, according to a recent report published by the Washington Post, Conservation International, another environmental group, has accepted $2 million in donations from BP and worked with the company on a number of projects, including one examining oil-extraction methods. From 2000 to 2006, John Browne, then BP's chief executive, sat on the CI board.

Further, The Environmental Defense Fund, another influential ecologist organization, joined with BP, Shell and other major corporations to form a Partnership for Climate Action, to promote ‘market-based mechanisms’ (sic) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmental non-profit groups that have accepted donations from or joined in projects with BP include Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club and Audubon. That could explain why the political outcry to date for decisive action in the Gulf has been so muted. [12]

Of course those organizations are not going to be the ones to solve this catastrophe. The central point at this point is who is prepared to put the urgently demanded federal and international scientific resources into solving this crisis. Further actions of the likes of that from the Obama White House to date or from BP can only lead to the conclusion that some very powerful people want this debacle to continue. The next weeks will be critical to that assessment.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Halliburton May Be Culprit In BP Oil Rig Explosion

Giant oil-services provider Halliburton may be a primary suspect in the investigation into the oil rig explosion that has devastated the Gulf Coast, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Though the investigation into the explosion that sank the Deepwater Horizon site is still in its early stages, drilling experts agree that blame probably lies with flaws in the "cementing" process -- that is, plugging holes in the pipeline seal by pumping cement into it from the rig. Halliburton was in charge of cementing for Deepwater Horizon.

"The initial likely cause of gas coming to the surface had something to do with the cement," said Robert MacKenzie, managing director of energy and natural resources at FBR Capital Markets and a former cementing engineer in the oil industry.

The problem could have been a faulty cement plug at the bottom of the well, he said. Another possibility would be that cement between the pipe and well walls didn't harden properly and allowed gas to pass through it.

The possibility of Halliburton's culpability was first reported Monday by HuffPost's Marcus Baram.

According to a lawsuit filed in federal court by Natalie Roshto, whose husband Shane, a deck floor hand, was thrown overboard by the force of the explosion and whose body has not yet been located, Halliburton is culpable for its actions prior to the incident.

The suit claims that the company "prior to the explosion, was engaged in cementing operations of the well and well cap and, upon information and belief, improperly and negligently performed these duties, which was a cause of the explosion."

And Congressman Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a tough letter on Friday to Halliburton, asking for an explanation of its work on the rig, according to a spokesperson for the committee.

Last year, Halliburton was also implicated for its cementing work prior to a massive blowout off the coast of Australia, where a rig caught on fire and spewed hundreds of thousands of gallons into the sea for ten weeks.

In that incident, workers apparently failed to properly pump cement into the well, according to Elmer Danenberger, former head of regulatory affairs for the U.S. Minerals Management Service, who testified to an Australian commission probing that accident.

"The problem with the cementing job was one of the root causes in the Australian blowout," Danenberger told Huffington Post, adding that the rig crew didn't pick up on indications of an influx of fluids coming back in after they cemented the casing. "The crew didn't pick up on them and didn't take action."

Halliburton declined to return a detailed request for comment from Huffington Post.

The company did issue a press release responding to reports about its work on the rig:

As one of several service providers on the rig, Halliburton can confirm the following:

-- Halliburton performed a variety of services on the rig, including cementing, and had four employees stationed on the rig at the time of the accident. Halliburton's employees returned to shore safely, due, in part, to the brave rescue efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard and other organizations.

-- Halliburton had completed the cementing of the final production casing string in accordance with the well design approximately 20 hours prior to the incident. The cement slurry design was consistent with that utilized in other similar applications.

-- In accordance with accepted industry practice approved by our customers, tests demonstrating the integrity of the production casing string were completed.

-- At the time of the incident, well operations had not yet reached the point requiring the placement of the final cement plug which would enable the planned temporary abandonment of the well, consistent with normal oilfield practice.

-- We are assisting with planning and engineering support for a wide range of options designed to secure the well, including a potential relief well.

Halliburton continues to assist in efforts to identify the factors that may have lead up to the disaster, but it is premature and irresponsible to speculate on any specific causal issues.

Halliburton originated oilfield cementing and leads the world in effective, efficient delivery of zonal isolation and engineering for the life of the well, conducting thousands of successful well cementing jobs each year. The company views safety as critical to its success and is committed to continuously improve performance.

Letter tto Halliburton from Waxman

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gulf of Mexico oil spill called worst in U.S. history

There's no end in sight for the situation in the Gulf of Mexico. Anderson Cooper reports live tonight from the region as BP attempts to stop the leak. Watch "AC360°" tonight at 10 ET on CNN for the latest on stopping the leak.

Venice, Louisiana (CNN) -- The Gulf of Mexico undersea gusher has already spilled more oil than the Exxon Valdez disaster -- possibly more than twice as much, making it the largest oil spill in U.S. history -- government scientists said Thursday.

Scientists observed 130,000 to 270,000 barrels of oil on the water's surface on May 17, and think a similar amount had already been burned, skimmed, dispersed or evaporated.

That would mean 260,000 to 520,000 barrels had been leaked as of 10 days ago. The Exxon Valdez leaked about 250,000 barrels into Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989.

The estimate came as an underwater tussle between oil and mud unfolded in BP's latest attempt to cap the runaway leak. But whether mud is able to defeat oil won't be known until later Thursday.

Federal authorities remained cautiously optimistic about the maneuver known as a top kill, which BP started Wednesday afternoon.

"The top kill procedure is going as planned, and it is moving along as everyone had hoped," said U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who is leading the government's response to the oil spill.

A BP official said it was too early to draw any conclusions about the success of the effort.

"We appreciate the optimism, but the top kill operation is continuing through the day today -- that hasn't changed," the official said. "We don't anticipate being able to say anything definitive on that until later today."

Meanwhile, government scientists said Thursday that the undersea gusher was spewing oil at a rate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day, more than twice the 5,000-barrel estimate given by BP.

The government had two different teams of scientists estimate the rate of flow using two different methods, U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt said.

Also Thursday, sources said that Minerals Management Service Director Elizabeth Birnbaum has been fired.

A senior Obama administration official said an official announcement will be made during the president's news conference scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

The decision to fire Birnbaum comes after a recently released report highlighting what many observers have characterized as widespread corruption at the Minerals Management Service, which is part of the Interior Department.

A dramatic video feed from the ocean floor showed enormous brown plumes billowing at the well. BP Managing Director Bob Dudley described it as a "titanic arm wrestling match" between the gushing oil and the thousands of pounds of drilling mud -- a thick, viscous fluid -- being pumped in to stop the flow.

So far, "that operation is proceeding like we would expect it," Dudley said.

If the mud succeeds in pushing back the oil, BP plans to seal the well with cement.

That response is sure to generate more questions for President Obama, who has come under fire for not doing enough.

Obama fought back the criticism Thursday by announcing that he is delaying oil exploration off the coast of Alaska, canceling the sale of a lease to drill off Virginia and extending the moratorium on permits to drill any new deepwater wells for six months, a White House official said.

He has also launched a presidential commission's safety review of offshore drilling in response to the incident.

He was expected to discuss other recommendations that came from a 30-day review he ordered shortly after the April 20 explosion aboard the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon that triggered the leak and left 11 men missing and presumed dead.

"If it's successful, and there are no guarantees, it should greatly reduce or eliminate the flow of oil now streaming into the Gulf from the sea floor," Obama said after discussing the top kill procedure with Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who was in Houston, Texas, at the command center. "And if it's not, there are other approaches that may be viable."

But he didn't elaborate on what he meant by "other approaches."

No fewer than four congressional hearings were scheduled Thursday regarding the spill. The committees were set to hear from oil rig workers and their families. Lamar McKay, chairman and president of BP America, and Steven Newman, president and CEO of Transocean, owner of the oil rig that exploded and sank, were also expected to testify.

Democratic Rep. Jim Moran, head of a key House appropriations subcommittee, told Interior Secretary Ken Salazar he "will be responsible" for ensuring there isn't a repeat of the oil spill "catastrophe" in the Gulf of Mexico.

Salazar said he remains "very confident and resolute that we will solve the problem."

Early Thursday morning, the Unified Command in Louisiana said it recalled all 125 commercial vessels in Breton Sound, Louisiana, after four crew members in three vessels involved in the oil recovery operations reported feeling sick.

Medics were going boat to boat to evaluate crew members as a precaution, Lt. Cmdr. Rob Wyman said.

The four crew members, who prompted the recall, reported feeling nauseated and dizzy, and complained of headaches and chest pains, the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center said.

The other crew members on those boats declined treatment at the dock.

"No other personnel are reporting symptoms, but we are taking this action as an extreme safeguard," Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Robinson Cox said.

All four crew members were taken to West Jefferson Medical Center outside New Orleans. Hospital spokeswoman Taslin Alfonzo said that in addition to the four, the medical center also received three other men who were working on the spill cleanup.

The vessels were involved in cleaning up oil that has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico since the oil rig sank about 40 miles south of Louisiana.

If BP's top kill procedure fails, an attempt would be made to contain more of the flow than is currently being siphoned through a riser insertion tool, according to Doug Suttles, the company's chief operating officer.

That would likely be followed by an attempt to place another blowout preventer on top of the existing one, which failed, he said.

"Everyone has experienced a great deal of frustration that we're 30-some odd days into this oil spill and we haven't yet contained the flow," Suttles said. But, he added, "We're doing everything we can to bring it to closure."