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Laurie Wiegler
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New Orleans Environmental News Examiner

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http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/deep-sea-damage-tocoral-reefs-found-gulf

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Deep-sea damage to coral reefs found in Gulf
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November 7th, 2010 10:31 pm CT

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On Nov. 4, NOAA returned from an expedition in the Gulf of Mexico that determined corals have been affected by oil that gushed from the Macondo well. On its web site, NOAA sites the mission of federal and academic scientists as having observed "damage to deep-sea corals" on the research cruise. Charles Fisher, Ph.D., professor of biology at Penn State and chief scientist on the expedition, described some of the soft coral observed in an area measuring 15 to 40 meters "as covered by what appeared to be a brown substance. Ninety percent of 40 large corals were heavily affected and showed dead and dying parts and discoloration," according to a NOAA statement. Another site 400 meters away had a colony of stony coral similarly affected and partially covered with a similar brown substance.
http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

The mission in the Gulf comes to a head after numerous weeks that found the scientists exploring deep-sea coral habitats in the Gulf. Nov. 4 marked the conclusion of this year¶s cruise, the fourth of a multiyear collaboration sponsored by NOAA¶s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE). Operating from the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown and using a variety of tools including the National Deep Submergence Facility¶s Jason II remotely-operated vehicle (ROV), researchers foraged 1,400 meters deep (4,600 feet) and about seven miles southwest of the Macondo wellhead when they observed "dead and dying corals with sloughing tissue and discoloration," according to the NOAA statement. The New York Times reported the story in its Sunday edition, drawing increasing focus on the extant issue that has brewed in scientists' minds for over 200 days: just how have marine life been impacted in the deep-sea waters of the Gulf? With more analyses of the coral samples, definitive conclusions should soon be drawn.

-http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/blowout-preventer-replacementelucidated-today-by-admiral-allen

Laurie Wiegler
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New Orleans Environmental News Examiner

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Blowout preventer replacement elucidated today by Admiral Allen
http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

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August 27th, 2010 5:09 pm CT

Today, retired US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen spoke about the cessation of the 'fishing expedition' as mentioned in a letter he wrote to Bob Dudley, CEO of BP today. Allen said that he had a considerable amount of information to pass on today regarding results in the last 24 hours. "As you know we've been conducting what we've been calling fishing operations attempting to ascertain the condition of the capping stack blowout preventer and the pipe that is in the blowout preventer,' said Allen. "We knew we had several pieces of pipe there and as you know from previous briefings we had sent down fishing tools in an attempt to locate those pipes. Last night we attempted to retrieve the pipe that was the result of the clean cut. He said the pipes have settled against the side of the blowout preventer (BOP) and therefore, his team can't successfully put the overshot devices over them. "We've come to the conclusion that any more attempts at fishing are probably not going to result in success," said Allen. Thus, the science team and the BP engineers decided to recommend to the principals and the cabinet secretaries that "we go ahead with the removal of the blowout preventer and the replacement of the blowout preventer with the one that's on Development Driller 2. This is due to the one whose apparent fragility of the pipe that keeps breaking and falling off to the side and also the unknown condition of the BOP below that and I can talk about that in a little bit," said Allen. So the plans are right now to replace the BOP, with an approximate timeline that, starting today into Saturday and Sunday, his team would make preparations to remove the BOP and replace it. Those preparations will be done as follows:
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The Discoverer Enterprise will retrieve the current fishing assembly and then they will run a latch down that will be capable of removing the capping stack, that top device that was placed on the blowout preventer. At the same time the Q4000 together with a number of ROV's will start disconnecting lines from the Macondo BOP. That includes the choke and kill lines, the goosenecks and some of those connections that go to that C4 manifold that we have used for various operations in the past. And then the Q4000 will prepare in general the BOP for removal. We expect these actions will take place on Saturday and Sunday. In the meantime Development Driller 2 will unlatch, pick up the 2nd blowout preventer and move to the staging area. Starting Monday and through Tuesday the Discoverer Enterprise will latch on and remove the capping stack. And the capping stack will be temporarily stored nearby on the ocean floor. Once that has been completed the Q4000 will move in and connect to the BOP and will unlatch it, said Allen.

http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

There will then be "a series of two decision points will occur. We will attempt to pull it free and we are prepared to apply up to 80,000 of force in addition to the weight of the blowout preventer to lift it," he said, calling it "a gentle tug." One impediment to plans could be caused by weather and the other by an unsuccessful 'gentle tug.' To read more of the Admiral's comments and reporters questions today, please click here. -http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/halliburton-and-bp-knewmacondo-well-had-cement-problems

Halliburton and BP knew Macondo well had cement problems
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October 29th, 2010 12:00 pm CT

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In the ongoing investigation into why catastrophe struck Apr. 20, yesterday's news that BP and Halliburton were aware of flaws in the cement used to seal the Macondo well will no doubt fuel an already contentious legal battle in Washington. In a letter to the oil spill commission, investigator Fred Bartlit said that the cement mixture used on the well was subpar, failing three of four lab tests prior to the explosion. In the letter, Bartlitt and fellow investigators write that Transocean and BP chose not to conduct necessary tests to ensure the integrity of the cement prior to the Apr. 20 blowout. Specifically, the well had failed cement foam slurry tests in the preceding weeks, and further, a test performed the night of Apr. 19 had not yet been read. Bartlitt says: "Halliburton may not have had--and BP did not have--the results of that test before the evening of Apr. 19, meaning that the cement job may have been pumped without any lab results indicating that the foam cement slurry would be stable." A slurry, simply speaking, suspends solids in a liquid. Halliburton and BP both had results in March showing that a very similar foam slurry design to the one actually pumped at the Macondo well would be unstable, but neither chose to act on that data, Bartlitt said. In the effort to cap the Macondo well, retired US Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen and engineers worked tirelessly on a range of issues including a clogged annulus and weather-related challenges before replacing the blowout preventer. Allen retired from his work as National
http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

Incident Commander and now the ongoing restoration is overseen by Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft of the US Coast Guard. To follow the Oil Spill Commission proceedings, click here.

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BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Halliburton BP BP oil spill commission Report Share

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randy j comeaux 2 weeks ago

really good article , please keep up the great work

-http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/zukunft-and-noaa-provideoperational-update-cites-cap-placed-on-well-2-days-ago

Zukunft says plug-and-abandonment now complete, cites $27m daily "burn rate"
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November 10th, 2010 3:03 pm CT

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Earlier today, Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft provided an operational update on the restoration in the Gulf and the Deepwater Horizon response.
http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

He started the call by pointing out a "milestone" that many didn't realize occurred two days ago, that "the plug and abandonment of the Macondo 252 well was complete. And in fact when it was completed, the cap that went over it has 11 stars on it to memorialize the 11 lives lost during that tragic explosion on April 20." Also at the outset of the call, Lieutenant Commander Chris O'Neil, public information officer for the Unified Area Command, introduced "three subject matter experts from NOAA with us today in addition to Admiral Zukunft." The NOAA experts were Frank Csulak, Richard Crout and John Stein, who were there to "speak to a variety of technical issues associated with the response," said O'Neil. Zukunft then updated the press, statingthat there are just over 9,300 people responding to the oil spill, "everywhere from the Florida panhandle through [and] across Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana as well. We have ± still have about 587 miles of oiled shoreline. Of that ± last week I reported about 25 of those were heavily oiled. This week it's actually 26 [miles of heavily oiled shoreline]. It went up one mile in Florida. We had strong northerly winds and some beach erosion in some parts of Florida that did expose some tar mats and so we have clean-up crews out there working today to continue to work those sites," Zukunft said. He explained that some of the "persistent oil" is in a sand column on both recreational beaches and on national park shorelines. "We're working with ± in some cases, it's either removed manually or we're using heavy equipment. And each one of those miles has a shoreline treatment recommendation as we look at the best alternatives to remove oil," he said. Asked by a reporter about how much money will be saved due to the permanent cap placement, the admiral said proprietary questions are better answered by BP. That said, "we're currently experiencing about a $27m per day burn rate." ### For more on the call, please see the complete transcript and or listen to the audio transcript by clicking here

-http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/zukunft-says-on-197th-day-ofoil-spill-crisis-580-miles-still-oiled

http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

Zukunft says on 197th day of Gulf response, 580 shoreline miles still oiled
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November 7th, 2010 9:54 am CT

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Last Wednesday, Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft, federal on-scene coordinator for the Deepwater Horizon Response, told the media that the same amount of oiled shoreline exists now as did the previous week. "This is the 197th day of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response. Today we have just over 9,200 people out doing active response operations in Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. I reported last week that we had approximately 580 miles of shoreline that had been oiled and about 30 miles of that is heavy oil," he said. "Those numbers still remain the same. We have what¶s called shoreline treatment recommendations for every one of those miles. And until we reach a point where we sign off where there¶s no further treatment among those 580 miles, those numbers will remain somewhat consistent," Zukunft told the media from his New Orleans base. Over in Florida and especially in areas of Pensacola, he said, there are tar mats in the inner tidal zone. And occasionally, those tar mats break loose. "They come back ashore. We actually have scuba teams out there right now that are mapping where those tar mats are and trying to do recovery operations or at least stage crews in advance of where that oil may come ashore," Zukunft said. In Alabama, there are two main recreational beach areas, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. Currently, Zukunft's team has what are called "power screeners" doing sand cleaning operations of as much as 440 tons of sand per hour. When sand is clean it¶s then redistributed across the beach, Zukunft said. Further, the rear admiral has met with Mayor Kennon and Mayor Craft in those two communities "to work on an end point of getting those beaches clean before the end of the calendar year," although the "biggest looming factor" will be weather. "Because when that sand is wet, it¶s not possible to do this mechanical cleaning operation. But that continues and we¶re continuing to make progress there." In Louisiana, there is still some oil into marsh areas, he said, including oiling on Pelican Island, on Grand Isle and Fourchon Beach and also Grand Terre Island. "Some of that oil has actually worked its way a couple of feet into the sand column," Zukunft said. "We¶ve done auguring to test how deep that penetrates. And then working with the local stakeholders of how deep we actually do the cleaning in some of those areas. On those
http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

Barrier Islands, we don¶t want to go too deep to make that sand unstable. But again, that continues to be an active operation out there as well." Zukunft said that on Friday the 29th he hosted a meeting with the State of Louisiana and each of the coastal Parish presidents "just to gain alignment on where we are in this cleanup. More importantly to communicate the long-term restoration that follows this emergency response phase of this operation." "And finally, we continue to work on seafood safety. We¶ve worked with the state of Louisiana and with the responsible party for example to stand up a more aggressive marketing campaign on seafood safety but also we continue to do the seafood sampling," Zukunft said. *** For more of Zukunft's call with the media as well as to listen to an audio transcript, please click here.

http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-neworleans/bp-sued-by-environmental-groups-for-endangeredspecies-losses

BP sued by environmental groups for endangered species' losses
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October 22nd, 2010 11:22 am CT

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A federal suit was filed Wednesday in New Orleans by environmental groups who accuse BP PLC for the oil spill's toll on endangered species of wildlife in the Gulf's ecosystem. The suit was filed by Defenders of Wildlife, Gulf Restoration Network Inc. and Save the Manatee Club Inc. and accuses BP of violating the Endangered Species Act. The environmentalists are asking for a court order requiring the company to offset the spill's impact on wildlife and restore their habitats.

http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

The suit says the Gulf has nearly 30 endangered or threatened animal species, including whales, various types of sea turtles and birds. The Gulf Restoration Network has been minding the gulf for nearly two decades, and since the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spewed Apr 20 its members are working hard to tell the true stories. For example, please check out the network's blog page on the oil spill. Save the Manattee Club seeks to protect the gentle manatees in areas such as the Gulf of Mexico. Only an estimated 3,800 manatees are alive today, according to the club's web site. However, as with all numbers of reported marine life and wildlife alive in the Gulf, it's likely a specious figure since the spill. The lawsuit from these groups is not surprising given the endless litigation against BP and offshore drilling contractor Transocean, which owned the rig that exploded in the Gulf. ***

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BP Oil Spill lawsuits BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill environmental litigation marine wildlife Gulf Wildlife Report Share

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Jon Banner 2 weeks ago

This lawsuit will go no where. Under CERCLA, CWA, the EPA is responsible for determining damages to the environment. Trying to get damages for endangered species, also a loser. None were killed, and even if they were you would have to prove that the deaths were caused by BP. According to the wildlife dolphin specialist I talked to, that is also impossible. The gov has made NO changes, things remain the same
http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/us-voters-support-clean-energyupcoming-house-races

US voters support their House representatives who voted for climate change bill
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October 18th, 2010 6:40 pm CT

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The Natural Resources Defense Council said today voters around the country are more likely to support candidates who vote for an energy bill that cuts climate change pollution, based on new poll results from the NRDC Action Fund released today. Public Policy Polling (PPP) for the NRDC Action Fund from 23 key Congressional Districts show that voters favor a clean energy plan that creates jobs and limits climate change pollution by an average of 52 percent. Voters supported clean energy legislation in nearly all of the House races cited, with two races in a statistical tie. Moreover, they were more likely to support candidates who promoted such a bill. The spread was an impressive 20 points, NRDC said. Surveys conducted between October 8 and October 15 covered 23 U.S. House races with incumbents who voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES): Jerry McNerney (CA-11); Betsy Markey (CO-4); Alan Boyd (FL-2); Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24); Alan Grayson (FL-8); Leonard Boswell (IA-3); Debbie Halvorsen (IL-11); Phil Hare (IL-17); Frank Kratovil (MD-1); Mark Schauer (MI-7); Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1); Harry Teague (NM-2); Dina Titus (NV-3); John Hall (NY-19); Steve Driehaus (OH-1); Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15); John Boccieri (OH-16); Zach Space (OH-18); Paul Kanjorski (PA-11); Patrick Murphy (PA-8); John Spratt (SC-5); Tom Perriello (VA-5); and Steve Kagan (WI-8). The NRDC Action Fund selected the particular 23 districts because these incumbents were in close races and because the outcome of these contests could determine which party will control the House of Representatives. Congress is considering an energy bill that would further US investments in wind, geothermal, biofuels, hydrogen and solar power, and other alternative energy solutions. NRDC Action Fund did not poll districts where the representatives voted against the climate change legislation. The results of the 23 poll reports are available online at http://www.nrdcactionfund.org/polls/october2010/.
http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

*** The NRDC Action Fund promotes the passage of legislation that jump-starts the clean energy economy and reduces pollution. Public Policy Polling is a national survey research firm located in Raleigh, North Carolina. To visit the NRDC Action Fund web site, click here. ** Yesterday, the NRDC was incorrectly called the National (not Natural) Resources Defense Council, and NRDC (rather than NRDC Action Fund) was credited for the poll. The writer regrets the errors. ---

http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-neworleans/nearly-a-month-after-the-kill-search-for-oilcontinues

Nearly a month after the "kill," search for oil continues
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October 13th, 2010 5:21 pm CT

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The Unified Area Command for the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill released an update today, just a few hours after the afternoon briefing with Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft from New Orleans and a day after President Barack Obama reversed the ban on offshore oil drilling. Currently, approximately 16,292 personnel are responding to protect the shoreline, wildlife and cleanup coastlines, according to Unified Command. Other statistics are as follows:
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To date, more than 31,000 water and sediment samples have been taken from the Gulf, reaching from the Texas-Louisiana border to the Florida Keys, and extending nearly 300 miles offshore. Response teams have conducted more than 125 sampling missions, with more than 25 different deepwater capable vessels, including federal, state, private, and academic ships. More than 850 days at sea have been recorded.

http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

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In the past week, 67 water samples and 131 sediment samples were collected. Currently four vessels are conducting sampling operations. Water column detection sampling data currently detects hydrocarbons in the parts per billion to parts per trillion. NOAA, FDA and the Gulf states are working together to ensure the seafood being harvested and brought to market is safe for human consumption, according to Unified Command. To date, every seafood sample from reopened waters has passed sensory testing for oil. NOAA scientists completed sensory analysis on 2,733 samples & completed chemical analysis on 2,768 samples. To date, 90 percent of federal waters in the Gulf have been reopened to fishing. More than 1,056 tons of recyclable waste, including oily liquid & oily solid waste, has been processed. Approximately 98 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline are experiencing moderate to heavy oil impacts -- approximately 88 miles in Louisiana, 9 miles in Mississippi and 1 mile in Florida. Approximately 458 miles of shoreline are experiencing light to trace oil impacts-approximately 203 miles in Louisiana, 81 miles in Mississippi, 60 miles in Alabama, and 114 miles in Florida.

During today's briefing, Rear Admiral Zukunft once again made clear that the recovery efforts in the Gulf are ongoing. He stressed continuity, even though the emergency mode that existed between Apr 20 and the halting of flow on July 16 has transitioned into a still urgent, but less critical search for where the "last release of oil" occurred and where it's had an impact. "My only closing remark is we are approaching the 6-month phase of this, and it's been nearly three months since we've had any new oil introduced," said Zukunft. "But this is anything but typical. If you look at large oil spills, they are instantaneous. Whereas, we had 87 consecutive days of a major spill occurring day in, day out, and during that phase we were clearly in a crisis." He said that during this very "labor intensive" period, the teams are looking very deeply into the water column, but still at this point are seeing concentrations of oil in the parts-per-billion range. Last week, though, the federal government came under fire from the very commission it hired to analyze its response to the BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. One of the criticisms of the commission was that in an effort to clean up the Gulf, dispersant use authority was handed over to EPA chief Lisa Jackson amidst political, inter-agency conflicts.

For resources on the Gulf oil spill cleanup and recovery efforts, please see:
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To read more about the Unified Command response including links to other federal agencies, click here. For specific information about the federal-wide response, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/deepwater-bp-oil-spill.

http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

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To contact the Deepwater Horizon Joint Information Center, call (713) 323-1670.To submit alternative response technology, services, or products, call 281-366-5511. To report oiled wildlife, call (866) 557-1401. For information about environmental air and water sampling results, visit http://www.epa.gov/bpspill. For National Park Service updates about potential park closures, resources at risk, and NPS actions to protect vital park space and wildlife, visit http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/oil-spill-response.htm. For Fish and Wildlife Service updates about response along the Gulf Coast and the status of national wildlife refuges, visit http://www.fws.gov/home/dhoilspill/.For daily updates on fishing closures, visit http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov.

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BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Zukunft 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill sediment sampling Report Share

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Jim Lampe 4 weeks ago

A thorough report, nice job. --http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bp-takes-40bn-hit-from-oil-spillso-far

BP takes $40bn hit from oil spill -- so far
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November 2nd, 2010 12:08 pm CT

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http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

BP announced today that the total charge for the Macondo well blowout in the Gulf was $39.9 billion. A press release issued by the company's London office stated that the charge "for the incident to end of the third quarter represented its current best estimate of those costs that can be reliably measured at this time." The show goes on for BP, though, which has shown a strong operating performance across the group as reflected by turning a profit in the third quarter of 2010 -- despite an additional pre-tax charge of $7.7 billion for the Gulf disaster. This followed a charge of $32.2 billion in the second quarter and was due principally to higher spill response costs. said the company. The long delay in completing the relief well that finally sealed the Macondo well in September, added substantially to the company's costs, as did "additional costs for decontaminating and demobilizng vessels involved in the response, claims centre administration costs and additional legal costs." ³These results demonstrate that BP is well on track for recovery after the tragic accident on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and subsequent oil spill,´ commented group chief executive Bob Dudley." This news comes on the heels of an oil spill commission investigator's assertion that the company, along with Halliburton ,knew full well that there were cement problems on the evening preceding the Apr. 20 blowout. -http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/oil-spill-commission-citesdelay-calling-spill-of-national-significance-other-fumbles

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Delay in calling spill of 'national significance', other fumbles (part one of oil spill comm report)
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October 7th, 2010 1:03 pm CT

http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

Admiral Thad Allen participated in the recent BP Oil Spill Commission panel discussion in DC. Photo: Mark Wilson, Getty Images, Sept 27. In the report issued yesterday, the oil spill commission cites numerous problems on the part of the US government when handling the crisis that evolved from the April 20 blowout of the Macondo well, including unnecessary delays, inter-agency mismanagement and possible incorrect use of containment methods. For purposes of brevity, herewith are highlights from the first half of the report, with part two to follow tomorrow: * The response was supervised at a national level by a National Incident Commander. On April 29, 2010, the Coast Guard designated the disaster a "Spill of National Significance," and brought in retired Admiral Thad Allen of the US Coast Guard. * "Though some of the command structure was put in place very quickly, in other respects the mobilization of resources to combat the spill seemed to lag. For about nine days, Deepwater Horizon response efforts continued with the Federal On-Scene Coordinator at the top of the command structure. National Leaders such as Dep. Secretary of the Interior David Hayes were innvolved, but the response was still largely regional in nature--the President had not been to the region, Cabinet secretaries had not yet become involved, and the responders were from the local area," it says in the report. * Conversations regarding a spill of "national significance" actually first occurred, though, in the first week of the spill -- even though Allen was not brought in for 10 days. * Dispersant use in the Gulf was questioned by the media, and about that time EPA administrator Lisa Jackson took over the role of overseeing dispersant use, with the federal on-scene coordinator (Paul Zukunft) and Regional Response Teams losing control of this responsibility. The Regional Response Teams are composed of regional representatives from state and local government. The US Coast Guard leads the Regional Response Teams during responses to oil spills in the coastal waters. Tomorrow, part two--including BP's role and an analysis of booms and berms. ***
http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

To read the report, please click here. ---

http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-neworleans/berms-booms-and-bp-part-two-of-oil-spillcommission-report-link-inclu

Berms, booms and BP - part two of oil spill commission report (link inclu.)
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October 8th, 2010 11:37 am CT

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Anyone who sat in on the daily media briefings with Retired US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, then National Incident Commander, and others in the federal government would have realized that the response was a serious endeavor. And that was at least as true where the media was concerned, for no reporter's question went unanswered (provided it fell within a given time frame) and every care was given to explain the minutiae of the response. That said, the report released this week by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling raises questions as to how "in charge" the US Coast Guard and even federal officials were throughout the response. The report points out that BP, under the Oil Pollution Act, is the "responsible party" but the act does not address conduct of the cleanup, "though it does mandate stronger authority for the government in a catastrophic spill, where the Federal On-Scene Coordinator "directs" the response." Nevertheless, BP was ubiquitous in the Gulf - whether on boats with reporters, working alongside the US Coast Guard, or from their stations in Houston, watching ROV footage of the hemorrhaging oil. The report states: "...although the Oil Pollution Act requires that operators name a "qualified individual" who has full authority to implement removal actions," the Act is silent about circumstances where that individual's responsibility for cleanup conflicts with her duties to shareholders as a corporate officer."
http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

One possibility that has been suggested ..."is to provide for appointment of a "qualified individual" under the Oil Pollution Act that is an independent third party, rather than a corporate officer, with authority to deploy the responsible party's resources. Such an arrangement might be akin to the compensation scheme set up by BP in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill, with corporate funds disbursed by an independent administrator." All of that taken into account, BP was still calling most of the shots on the response. Namely:
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The Incident Command Post at Houston was set up in BP headquarters. BP controlled access to the wellhead from Houston as well as control of the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) operating 5,000 feet below the surface of the water at the riser pipe and wellhead, as well as control of all vessel traffic in the area above. BP used ROVs to coordinate nearly every element of the containment response, including gathering data, carrying out mechanical containment procedures, and applying subsea dispersants During the Deepwater Horizon response, BP had decision-makers in multiple locations within the command structure.

The interests of the responsible party and the public are generally aligned with respect to stopping an ongoing spill, the report points out. "Under the Clean Water Act, the responsible party can be liable for a civil penaltydetermined by the amount of oil that was spilled, so it shares the public's interest in cutting off the oiil flow as quickly as possible. On other issues, the incentives of the public and the responsible party may diverge. For instance, the responsible party may, at least in theory, have an interest in using dispersants even if they cause ecological harm." In addition to questions about BP's overarching involvement in the response -- which has had less carryover into the cleanup than the actual cessation of the leak -- the oil spill commission details conflicts between parish presidents and other Gulf politicians with the US government. Usually these arguments went something like: "don't take away our boom" or "we need more boom." As is often the case in life, many times the squeaky wheel did get the grease. Bringing in berms was less popular than booms, but when the issue was successfully argued in late spring, berms were brought in as a containment device to protect the fragile Louisiana wetlands. Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser had won his argument with the Army Corps of Engineers after his concerns made national headlines on May 21. Nungesser had said: "We could have built 10 miles of sand boom already if [the feds] had approved our permit when we originally requested it." Other concerns raised in the report include issues such as the Coast Guard's lack of experience working at depths of 5,000 feet, the US government's inexperience when it comes to
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highytechnical engineering matters as contrasted to BP's expertise and the always-quick response on the part of government to respond to falling poll numbers with bringing in more manpower. And at times, the political solution - especially when President Obama called for a "tripling" of resources - was not always met with eagerness on the part of those on the ground and in the water, who better knew the needs at the time.

*** To read the report, click here.
-http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/relief-well-completed-allenannounces-this-morning

Relief well completed, Allen announces this morning
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September 19th, 2010 11:32 am CT

A ship worked at the oil spill site back on Aug 3. On Sept 19, finally, the spill has been plugged. Photo: Chris Graythen, Getty Images The long-anticipated end to the story of capping the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill has come to a head. For, at 5:54 CDT the relief well was finished in the Gulf of Mexico. At that time, a cement pressure test was performed on the DDIII well and was used to determine its completion. In a statement released to the media at 10:26 CDT this morning, Admiral Thad Allen, the hardworking National Incident Commander overseeing the months-long project, stated: "After months of extensive operations planning and execution under the direction and authority of the U.S. government science and engineering teams, BP has successfully completed the
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relief well by intersecting and cementing the well nearly 18,000 feet below the surface. With this development, which has been confirmed by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, we can finally announce that the Macondo 252 well is effectively dead." By "effectively" he meant that additional regulatory steps will be taken, but Allen's team can now state definitively that there is no longer a risk of oil/hydrocarbons flowing into the Gulf. The well has been sealed with cement plugs, and pressure tests were peformed to assure the integrity of those plugs. From the beginning, Allen stated, this response has been driven by the best science and engineering teams available and they insisted BP develop "robust redundancy measures" to ensure the work was completed according to their standards. "And although the well is now dead, we remain committed to continue aggressive efforts to clean up any additional oil we may see going forward," Allen assured. Now, oversight of the well transitions out of Allen's hands with Joint Incident Command and to the purview of the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, which confirmed the results of the cement plug tests this morning. To read the admiral's statement as well as additional information concerning the oil response, click here later today and this week.
http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/academics-help-keep-feds-honestsubsea-oil-is-a-major-concern-the-gulf

Academics help keep feds honest: subsea oil is a major concern in the Gulf
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September 13th, 2010 6:59 am CT

NOAA meets with Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass) Aug 19 regarding subsea oil in the Gulf.
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Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images, Aug 19 Thank goodness for the University of Georgia Department of Marine Sciences and other academic groups studying the extent of the oil plume below the Gulf surface. For without them, BP and the US government might not have been held accountable for the truth. While NOAA and the Deepwater Horizon Response team led by retired US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen have made a point to let media outlets know they are seriously talking with academics about subsea oil, this was not always the case. Media calls are also occasions to tout positive news such as fishing area reopenings and the number of sea turtles saved that day. Meanwhile, far more sea turtles have and will continue to perish and the Gulf of Mexico remains a study in progress, by academia, NOAA and environmental activists and scientists with Oceana. No one is more on top of the story, though, than those scientists and students in the Marine Sciences department at UGA. ON ABC TV recently, scientist Samantha Joye with University of Georgia said oil has certainly not disappeared but is on the sea floor in a layer of muck. She and her team are studying the effects of subsea oil from a research vessel about two miles from the spill zone. Thirteen of thirteen samples from the bottom of the Gulf have tested positive for oil. Back on Aug. 16 the University of Georgia Office of Public Affairs released a statement detailing its oil findings to date: "A report released today by the Georgia Sea Grant and the University of Georgia concludes that up to 79 percent of the oil released into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon well has not been recovered and remains a threat to the ecosystem. The report, authored by five prominent marine scientists, strongly contradicts media reports that suggest that only 25 percent of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill remains. ³One major misconception is that oil that has dissolved into water is gone and, therefore, harmless,´ said Charles Hopkinson, director of Georgia Sea Grant and professor of marine sciences in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. ³The oil is still out there, and it will likely take years to completely degrade. We are still far from a complete understanding of what its impacts are.´ Co-authors on the paper include Jay Brandes, associate professor, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography; Samantha Joye, professor of marine sciences, UGA; Richard Lee, professor emeritus, Skidaway; and Ming-yi Sun, professor of marine sciences UGA..." Anyone truly concerned about the death of marine life below sea level, the destruction to the Gulf ecosystem and long-term health and environmental effects should study this and reports like it, as well as governmental reports by the US Department of the Interior and NOAA.

http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

In a Gulf Oil Blog published by UGA, Joye noted several samples of subsea sedimented oil as they cruised 16 nautical miles from the Macondo well site. Her detailed blog is linked here. The blog should be read in its entirety, but in a snippet from Sept 6 Joye states that "the point is that the entire sediment column is oil stained at a natural seep." ### Stay tuned to this space for there will be more reports in coming weeks.
-http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/another-step-closer-to-relief-admiralallen-greenlights-well-completion

Another step closer to relief: Admiral Allen greenlights well completion
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September 13th, 2010 4:19 pm CT

The Obamas promote Gulf tourism with daughter Sasha, here looking at dolphins on Aug 15 in Florida. Photo: Mark Wallheiser, Getty Images This afternoon, National Incident Commander, the retired US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen issued a formal statement on the status of the much-anticipated relief well: "After extensive consultation between BP engineers and the federal science team, as well as reviewing data collected from measurements I authorized Friday, the Development Driller III today began the final steps towards the completion of the relief well that will intercept the Macondo 252 welland perform the bottom kill procedure. This accelerated progress was possible after several discussions between BP and the federal scientists and engineers, leading to the installation of a lock-down device over the weekend, which resulted in the necessary conditions to commence the finalization of the relief well. I will continue to provide updates on the progress of the relief well, the final step that will ensure the well is fully and finally killed, as necessary."
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BP resumed drilling on the well this afternoon after a month-long delay, spurred on by tropical storm conditions and later the presence of sediment in the annulus. The latter resulted in a lengthy "fishing expedition" before the failed blowout preventer was replaced a little over a week ago. Today's news comes as the US federal government comes under increasing pressure to account for the amount of subsea oil currently being studied by academic groups such as at the University of Georgia. Admiral Allen has made it abundantly clear in recent media conferences that his team along with NOAA and the EPA is keyed into the academic studies, and every effort is being made to be in concert with scientists, academicians and parish presidents to determine "how clean is clean."
-http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/well-intercept-imminent-butdiscussion-about-gulf-seafood-safety-subsea-hydrocarbons-remains

Well intercept imminent but discussion about Gulf seafood safety, subsea hydrocarbons remains
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September 15th, 2010 1:56 pm CT

Back on Aug. 4 in Chalmette, LA, BP sends out a claims processing unit. Many more claims will come. Photo: Chris Graythen, Getty Images From Kenner, Louisiana today Admiral Thad Allen stood along with Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator as well as representatives of the seafood industry and numerous academic groups such as from Tulane and University of South Florida. So it was no surprise that before Allen talked about the interception of the Macondo well, he said that "seafood safety has loomed large... [but the Gulf seafood is the] most tested and safest
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seafood in the world, and the rest of the world needs to know that«You should have no qualms about [this] seafood." Allen's comments counter what some locals along the Gulf including up through Alabama have been concerned about, but again, the official word is the seafood is safe to eat. Lubchenco said that presently 16-1/2 percent of the Gulf remains closed to fishing. "So we are making good progress, sampling [the seafood] very carefully«making sure it¶s safe to reopen and seafood is free of contaminents." As for the final cap to this story, Allen said: ³We started the final drilling process to close in on Macondo well. We had several segments [to this process] starting with the static kill. We've done a number of tests, removed the blowout preventer ...And it has been shipped to «a facility in New Orleans," where it's under supervision from the Department of Justice and other officials, said Allen. ³Four days from now it could be all done,´ Allen said, adding that "We¶re within a 96-hr window of killing the well´ from the bottom. He said that Development Driller III will begin its last drilling leg into the annulus, into the drill pipe and a well intercept from the relief well into the Macondo well is expected over the next 24 hours. "We don't know whether hydrocarbons are in the annulus or not," he added. "[But] today will give us a lot of information." His engineers are checking pressure changes regarding the mud going in and out and monitoring the situation closely, of course. They continue to notify their "senior leadership" as they go forward, Allen said. Then he turned to the widely publicized subject this week of subsea hydrocarbons. The recent reports coming out of the University of Georgia, as documented here, have obviously only fueled the debate. Nonetheless, Allen is a staunch defender of the Deepwater Horizon Response effort: ³From the start we have known this has been the largest oil spill in US history and we know impacts have been far reaching«[We have] concerns about how much [oil is underneath the surface, and how many]«hydrocarbons [exist]." Ongoing efforts between the unified commands in New Orleans under Admiral Paul Zukunft, Allen, NOAA and others are still looking at "the art of the possible" in regard to subsea hydrocarbons, the admiral said.
-http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/a-day-after-capping-stack-taken-offallen-announces-successful-removal-of-bop http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

A day after capping stack taken off, Allen announces successful removal of BOP
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September 3rd, 2010 2:35 pm CT

Admiral Allen announced the removal of the BOP today; the capping stack was removed yesterday. Photo: Aug 20 by Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images This afternoon, Admiral Thad Allen, National Incident Commander for Deepwater Horizon Response, announced the successful removal of the beleaguered blowout preventer that failed on the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico: "Under the direction of the federal science team and U.S. government engineers, BP has lifted the damaged Blow Out Preventer (BOP) from its position atop the cemented Macondo 252 well. We will continue to closely monitor progress as the BOP, which along with the latching device weighs approximately one million pounds, is lifted to the surface in the next 24-36 hours. This procedure was undertaken in accordance with specific conditions I set forth last week in a directive authorizing the capping stack removal, which was completed yesterday, and BOP replacement. BP will continue to follow these required conditions during the lifting of the damaged BOP and as the device is replaced. I will continue to provide updates as necessary." On Aug. 27 Admiral Allen directed BP CEO Bob Dudley to stop the 'fishing expedition' on the well and proceed with removal of the BOP. Today's news comes on the heels of yesterday's announcement by Allen about the capping stack removal.

For further updates continue reading here and see the Deepwater Horizon Response web site
-http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bp-releases-193-page-report-on-whatwent-wrong

BP releases 193-page report on what went wrong
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September 8th, 2010 8:25 am CT

Pools of dispersed oil collected on a section of a beach in August at Grand Isle, La. Photo: Win McNamee, Getty Images It's not a quick read, but for those so inclined check out the 193-page report issued by BP today on the results of the Deepwater Horizon investigation. The failed Macondo well that spewed April 20 before it submerged April 22, was a result of a daisy chain of events and not wholly attributable to one factor, according to BP's investigation. From a lack of well integrity to hydrocarbons entering the well undetected -- and causing a loss of control of the well -- to hydrocarbons igniting the Deepwater Horizon and the failure of the blowout preventer to seal the well, answering why the catastrophe occurred is multi-faceted and complex -- that is, according to the BP official report. On their web site today, BP starts off by pointing out the events leading up to the crisis: "The chronology of events in the hours leading up to and including the Deepwater Horizon accident are presented here as a factual timeline to allow a straightforward description of events as they unfolded," BP says: The major activity sets covered start with events prior to Apr 19, 2010, BP says. These are: ‡ Final Casing Run ‡ Cement Job ‡ Positive-pressure and Negative-pressure Tests ‡ Well Monitoring and Simultaneous Operations ‡ Well Control Response ‡ Explosion and Fire ‡ BOP Emergency Operations Among the many concerns leading up to the explosion Apr 20 were reflected in internal e-mails regarding "mechanical integrity concerns regarding the bow spring centralizers."
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Further investigation showed that in the minutes leading up to the explosion, at 21:45 hours the "assistant driller called the senior toolpusher to report that 'the well is blowing" and that [the toolpusher] "is shutting it now." Then at 21:45 a "gas hissing noise" was heard and high-pressure gas was discharged from vents towards the deck. A minute or so later the first gas alarm sounded as gas issued rapidly, setting off other gas alarms. In mere seconds, a "roaring noise" was heard and a vibration felt. The drill pipe pressure started rapidly increasing from 1,200 psi to 5,730 psi. By 21:45 the main power generation engines had "started going into overspeed." Interestingly, the BP report comes on the heels of the news that the beleaguered BOP had successfully been replaced by Admiral Thad Allen's team Saturday. To read the full BP Deepwater Horizon report please click here.
-http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/crucial-oil-spill-evidence-raised-toservice-as-failed-bop-replaced-yesterday

Crucial oil spill evidence raised to surface as failed BOP replaced Saturday (slideshow/video link)
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September 5th, 2010 8:43 am CT

Damaged blowout preventer being extracted yesterday. Photo: PO1 Thomas Blue, US Coast Guard Saturday, the blowout preventer (BOP) that failed on the Macondo well on April 20 was lifted to the surface and replaced with a new one. The former BOP is considered key evidence in the investigation into exactly what went wrong and how, and will be used to hold appropriate parties accountable in the legal investigation. The Associated Press was the only news organization to ride out to sea and report and photograph this auspicious occasion as it happened.
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Then at 10:23 EST Saturday night, retired US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen issued a simple statement via the Deepwater Horizon Response communications team: "The damaged blowout preventer (BOP), along with the lower marine riser package (LMRP) cap, have been removed from the Gulf of Mexico and are currently on board the Q4000. The BOP is considered evidentiary material, and is now under the supervision of the Deepwater Horizon Criminal Investigation Team and FBI Evidence Recovery Team." Earlier in the day, AP writer Harry Weber reported on a delay hoisting the BOP because of the development hydrates -- ice-like crystals -- which had been found on the beleaguered BOP. This was not an unusual development considering that such crystals can form when gases such as methane mix with water in cold temperatures, under high pressure. Operations were allowed to finally continue, and a crane lifted the BOP, offering investigators their first chance to scrutinize it, according to the AP. It took nearly 30 hours to lift the 50-foot, 300-ton contraption from a mile beneath the sea. The five-story high device cut through the water's surface just before 7:00 p.m. CDT, looking remarkably intact. Allen, discussing to reporters how the new BOP was swapped as every care was taken to ensure the old one was monitored by authorities, said "We have continued to conduct surveillance with ROVs [remotely-operated vehicles] and sensors that are actually on the well head. Development Driller II has placed a new blowout preventer on the well head. They are flushing fluids through the blowout preventer and they are replacing the riser pipe..." Referencing the old BOP and the cement that previously was put through in the static kill, Admiral Allen announced that he was very pleased that the replacement BOP "does not constitute a threat to the Gulf of Mexico at this point but we need to finish the work related to the relief well and the plug and abandonment which will need to [be done to] move forward." FBI agents were among the 137 people aboard the Helix Q4000 vessel, taking photos and video of the device. They will escort it back to a NASA facility in Louisiana for analysis. *** To read the entire transcript of yesterday's media call from National Incident Commander Thad Allen, please click here. For an audio transcript of the call, click here. Click here for a link to US Coast Guard video.
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http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/bottom-kill-start-contingent-uponpulling-up-pipe-pieces-from-well

Bottom kill to start once pipe pieces plucked from well
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September 8th, 2010 6:27 pm CT

Shane Wells, a subsea engineer for BP, monitors removal of the BOP at Houston Command Ctr Sept 3. Photo: © BP p.l.c. Admiral Thad Allen, National Incident Commander, today said that there are delays in moving forward in performing a bottom kill on the well in the Gulf. Over the next few days they'll be studying how best to remove some pipe pieces inside the well, Allen said. Just on Saturday, the blowout preventer that failed April 20 was removed amidst great fanfare. The US Coast Guard released numerous photos to the press almost as soon as the event unraveled. "What we anticipate happening for the next few days is some diagnostics to be conducted on the well itself. As we prepare to do the final relief well and the final killing actions in the well, we have an opportunity at this point to learn more about the well," said Allen. He stated firmly though, that "this well is secured, and there's no threat of discharge." That said, reflecting back to the anticipation of a drill pipe "that would likely be suspended below the blowout preventer and might even be adhered to the...well casing, that did not happen," Allen said. "So there is some piece of pipe ± pieces of pipe that are down in the well right now. So we're in a little bit of a diagnostic phase right now, trying to understand more about what is the current status of the well before our final timeline is released on the intercept," Allen explained. That could possibly include a two-part intercept of the well to finally kill it, where they would submit from the top and the bottom through the casing in the well, Allen said. "And if that happens, the two steps would be to actually perforate the casing above the cement that
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was put in during the static kill and put cement there at the top and then come in from the bottom with the relief well." Asked by the Examiner as to the need for physical evidence in relation to the timing of the BP report issued today, Allen said that while instrumental the actual failed blowout preventer is not the be-all, end-all of the investigation. "Well, I wouldn't want to comment on the timing or what the intent was of the BP report. I would just say, the more we know about this event in general, the better off we are. It led to a larger body of evidence that ± or body of work that, mind you, won't be completed until we finish the joint investigation by the Department of Interior and Homeland Security and the other various investigations that are going on," Allen said. He added: "I think it is a piece of information that adds to our understanding of it, but it is not the end-all, be-all that's going to have to be done in this to address the issues associated with this, about why it happened and what needs to happen in the future." *** To listen to today's call with the media including Allen's comments about boom operations and his work with NOAA, the EPA and various academic institutions on the ongoing inspection for hydrocarbons in the Gulf, click here.
--http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-new-orleans/admiral-allen-issues-directive-to-bpon-upcoming-plug-and-abandonment-procedure

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