Deepwater Horizon Update June 29, 2010

Government Oversight Proves Catastrophic

On April 6, 2009, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) of the U.S. Department of the Interior gave BP a categorical exclusion from the National Environmental Policy Act.

In 1982 the U.S. Department of the Interior created MMS to oversee minerals leasing in the Outer Continental Shelf and to supervise all offshore operations. The MMS collects revenue from those it oversees; this close correlation to money (In 2008, MMS collected $23 billion in royalties) has led to several corruption scandals. In 1990, allegations of a sex scandal in the Denver and Dallas offices of the MMS led to some reassignments, and in 2008, an internal investigation found that MMS officials had traded sex and drugs with energy industry officials.

In April 2009, MMS was tasked with overseeing BP's operations in the Gulf of Mexico, in which they gave BP an exclusion from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision-making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions.

BP earned its 2009 exemption as a result of MMS’s belief that a large oil spill from Deepwater Horizon would not exceed 1,500 barrels and a deepwater spill that might occur offshore of the inner Continental Shelf would not reach the coast. A second assessment by MMS put the total spill at 4,600 barrels and predicted that a spill would dissipate after 10 days. Lease 206 for Deepwater Horizon, stated “no mitigation measures other than those required by regulation and BP policy will be employed to avoid, diminish or eliminate potential impacts on environmental resources”. MMS exempted BP from an environmental impact assessment, and many aspects of the exploration plan pertaining to a spill and its affects were not required.

*Check out sections 1.5, 7.1 & 10.2

Oil Spill Comparison
*BP numbers based on June 15 government estimates of 60,000 barrels leaking per day

Taking Extraordinary Measures to Rescue Turtles
The Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will work together to move some 700 sea turtles nests from the Florida Panhandle and up to 80 nests from the Alabama coast to the Atlantic coast of Florida. Moving the nests will be risky but it is considered the turtles best chance for survival.

Most are loggerhead nests, but they also include some Kemp's ridley, green and leatherback turtles. The eggs will be allowed to incubate at Gulf beaches until day 51, 52 or 53 of incubation. Collecting the eggs at a late point in the incubation cycle, which lasts on average 60 days, means that transporting them is less likely to harm them.

The eggs will be excavated by hand by a designated sea turtle permit holder or permitted contractor, put into styrofoam boxes and flown to Florida's Atlantic Coast. There, they will be held in a secure off-beach location for the remainder of incubation.

As they hatch, they will be collected each night and released on Atlantic Coast beaches and allowed to make their way to the ocean.

Nearshore Surface Oil Forecast for Wednesday 6/30/10

Hurricanes and the Oil Spill
What will the hurricane do to the oil slick in the Gulf?
• The high winds and seas will mix and “weather” the oil which can help accelerate the biodegradation process.
• Movement of oil would depend greatly on the track of the hurricane.]]>
top: 360px; width: 1px; height: 1px;">• Storms’ surges may carry oil into the coastline and inland as far as the surge reaches. Debris resulting from the hurricane may be contaminated by oil from the Deepwater Horizon incident, but also from other oil releases that may occur during the storm.

What will the hurricane do to the oil slick in the Gulf?

• The high winds and seas will mix and “weather” the oil which can help accelerate the biodegradation process.
• The high winds may distribute oil over a wider area, but it is difficult to model exactly where the oil may be transported.
• Movement of oil would depend greatly on the track of the hurricane.
• Storms’ surges may carry oil into the coastline and inland as far as the surge reaches. Debris resulting from the hurricane may be contaminated by oil from the Deepwater Horizon incident, but also from other oil releases that may occur during the storm.

Alex: The storm's projected path is far from the oil spill but south and southeast winds could push more oil on shore in Mississippi, Louisiana and further east to Texas

Gulf oil spill time-lapse video of NASA satellite images

Wildlife found dead from oil spill
These are the consolidated numbers of collected fish and wildlife that are dead, asreported to the Unified Area Command from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), incident area commands, rehabilitation centers and other authorized sources operating within the Deepwater Horizon/BP incident impact area. (June 28, 2010)

Administration Wide Response

Secretary Napolitano and Carol Browner Visit to New Orleans to Inspect the Response
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Policy Carol Browner traveled to New Orleans to receive updates from National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen and senior federal officials leading the frontline response to the BP oil spill.

In their meetings, Secretary Napolitano and Ms. Browner discussed ongoing efforts to prevent oil from reaching the shoreline along the Gulf Coast and to mitigate its impact where it does. They were also joined by Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate for a portion of the briefings to discuss preparations in the event a hurricane or tropical storm should strike the Gulf Coast.

Admiral Allen, Secretary Napolitano & Carol Browner Provide Daily Operational Update
Secretary Napolitano and Carol Browner joined Admiral Allen to provide a briefing to inform the American public and answer questions on the progress of the administration-wide response to the BP oil spill. Secretary Napolitano and Ms. Browner reiterated that the federal government’s aggressive response efforts and oversight of BP will continue until BP stops its leaking well, the damage is cleaned up, and Gulf Coast communities are made whole, and stressed that the federal government is working closely with state and local authorities to ensure that they have the resources they need to meet the evolving threat from this oil spill.

BP Continues to Optimize Oil Recovery Rates from its Leaking Well
Under the direction of the federal government, BP continues to capture some oil and burn gas at the surface using its containment dome technique—collecting oil aboard the Discoverer Enterprise, which is linked by a fixed riser pipe to the wellhead, and flaring off additional oil and gas on the Q4000, which is connected to the choke line. BP has finished installing the first free standing riser, which has greater survivability than a fixed riser and will be connected to a third vessel, the Helix Producer—a redundancy measure also taken under the direction of the federal government.

Progress Continues in Drilling Relief Wells; Ranging Process Continues
The Development Driller III continues to drill the first relief well to a depth of approximately 16,545 feet. The Development Driller II has drilled the second relief well—a redundancy measure taken at the direction of the administration—to a depth of more than 12,000 feet below the Gulf surface.

BP continues the “ranging” process—which involves periodically withdrawing the drill pipe and sending an electrical signal down to determine how close they are getting to the wellbore.

NOAA-Supported Scientists Predict Increase in Area Containing Depleted Oxygen Levels
While it is unclear what impact, if any, will be linked to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a team of NOAA-supported scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Louisiana State University, and the University of Michigan, predict that the northern Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone, an underwater area with little or no oxygen known commonly as the “dead zone,” could be larger than the recent average by 500-1,800 square miles.

This forecast is based on Mississippi River nutrient flows compiled annually by the U.S. Geological Survey. Dead zones off the coast of Louisiana and Texas are caused by nutrient runoff, principally from agricultural activity, which stimulates an overgrowth of algae that sinks, decomposes, and consumes most of the life-giving oxygen supply in the water. The federal government continues to engage the best scientific minds available to monitor the impacts of the BP oil spill on all aspects of the environment, including oxygen levels in the water column.

NOAA Expands Fishing Restriction in the Gulf; More than 66 Percent Remains Open
As part of continued efforts to ensure the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico and protect consumers, NOAA has expanded the closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico to include portions of the oil slick moving beyond the area’s current northern boundary, off the Florida panhandle’s federal-state waterline. This boundary was moved eastward to Cape San Blas. The closed area now represents 80,228 square miles—approximately 33.2 percent—of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. This closure does not apply to any state waters. This leaves more than 66 percent of Gulf federal waters available for fishing. Details can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/.

Approved SBA Economic Injury Assistance Loans Top $8 Million
SBA has approved 121 economic injury assistance loans to date, totaling more than $8 million for small businesses in the Gulf Coast impacted by the BP oil spill. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 493 existing SBA disaster loans in the region, totaling more than $2.25 million per month in payments. For information on assistance loans for affected businesses, visit the SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance, call (800) 659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Administration Continues to Oversee BP’s Claims Process
The administration will continue to hold the responsible parties accountable for repairing the damage, and repaying Americans who’ve suffered a financial loss as a result of the BP oil spill. To date, 82,351 claims have been opened, from which more than $128.4 million have been disbursed. No claims have been denied to date. There are 933 claims adjusters on the ground. To file a claim, visit www.bp.com/claims or call BP’s helpline at 1-800-440-0858. Those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP’s resolution can call the Coast Guard at (800) 280-7118. Additional information about the BP claims process and all available avenues of assistance can be found at www.disasterassistance.gov.