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Oil Spill: U.S. Sues BP and Others for Deepwater Horizon Disaster

The Department of Justice is suing BP and eight other companies over the catastrophic oil spill that devastated the Gulf of Mexico region last April.

The United States filed a civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in New Orleans Wednesday, alleging that federal safety violations contributed to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

“We will not hesitate to take whatever steps are necessary to hold accountable those who are responsible for this spill,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a press conference, according to the New York Times.

On April 20th, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank, killing the eleven workers onboard and leaving millions of gallons of crude oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from the well it was drilling. The leak was not sealed until July.

The 27-page complaint requests that the companies be held liable for removal costs and damages. While it does not mention a specific amount, the suit could cost BP and the other companies tens of billions of dollars, The New York Times reports.

“This is welcome and long overdue news to the fishermen and others who depend upon the Gulf of Mexico for their lives and livelihoods,” Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental organization, said in a statement, according to UPI.

Aside from BP, the lawsuit also involves: Anadarko Exploration & Production LP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp.; MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC; Triton Asset Leasing GMBH, Transocean Holdings LLC, Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc., and Transocean Deepwater Inc.; and QBE Underwriting Ltd.-Lloyd’s Syndicate 1036.

Posted in Drilling for Oil, Ecosystems, Fish, Oceans & Coastlines, Oil & Petroleum, Water Pollution, Well Drilling0 Comments

Contaminated Ducks Euthanized in Canada

Ducks in various locations around Canada have had to be euthanized recently after landing in polluted oil tailing ponds, Canadian authorities reported.

Officials stated that roughly 230 birds landed in a Syncrude tailing pond in Alberta on Monday, and came in contact with toxic extraction byproducts which necessitated euthanizing them.

Similar incidents occurred on Tuesday in facilities owned by Shell and Suncor.

A “small number of oiled birds” were euthanized on the advice of Alberta fish and wildlife authorities, Suncor officials announced, while Shell reported finding two dead birds and two other oiled birds in its tailing pond.

“We are cooperating fully with regulators and are working to minimize waterfowl losses,” Scott Sullivan, Syncrude president and CEO, said in a statement. “This is very unfortunate, especially given the significant efforts we have taken to improve our deterrent system.”

The deaths of the ducks at Syncrude’s pond came just days after Syncrude agreed to pay a $3 million penalty for the deaths of 1,600 ducks in another tailings pond in April 2008, CBC News reported.

A spokesman for Greenpeace said the industry should stop using tailings ponds.

“The fact is that these toxic tailings lakes pose an ongoing threat, not just to bird populations but to animals and to downstream communities as well,” Greenpeace Alberta campaigner Mike Hudema said.

Source: UPI

Posted in Animals, Birds, Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

Oil Platform Fire Cause Unknown But No Oil Spilled; Owner Had History of Safety Violations

A day after an oil platform fire in the Gulf of Mexico, more details regarding the incident and the oil platform owner, Mariner Energy, have come to light. Speaking to reporters today, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asserted that the incident was a run-of-the mill industrial accident and not an example of a failure in regulatory oversight, noting “It’s not another Deepwater Horizon issue, it appears to be another industrial accident.”

Despite Salazar’s statements, more details emerged today about past safety violations by Mariner Energy and its predecessor, Forest Oil. The Washington Post has noted that federal records show Mariner Energy has a history of safety violations including:

  • In June, Mariner Energy paid a $20,000 federal fine for an alleged regulatory violation on an offshore platform.
  • In May, Mariner Gulf of Mexico LLC paid a $35,000 fine for allegedly taking inadequate steps to control hydrogen sulfide pollution.
  • In 2006, Forest Oil had several crew members on another oil platform who were so concerned about safety problems that they took a boat to shore. Their boss stayed behind and was killed when equipment ejected from the well.

Fortunately, the oil platform fire on Thursday did not lead to an oil or natural gas leak, as was initially feared.

In fact, had the oil platform fire not occurred in such close proximity to the BP Deepwater Horizon location in the Gulf of Mexico, it is unlikely much notice would have been paid to the accident at all.

Posted in History, Hydrogen, Natural Gas, Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

Coast Guard Confirms Oil Sheen From Mariner Energy Oil Platform Explosion

Sept. 2, 2010 – An oil sheen has been spotted at the location of the Mariner Energy oil platform explosion. The sheen is approximately 100 feet wide and 1 mile long. A spokesman for Mariner Energy had originally indicated that there was no evidence that oil had spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. The Coast Guard has called back many of its resources since the fire is now under control and all the workers have been accounted for and rescued.

There has been no explanation by the company, so far, as to the source of the visible oil slick.

More information has been learned about the distressed Mariner Energy oil platform, which is located 200 miles west of the site of BP’s oil spill. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal indicated that Mariner Energy officials had informed him that the platform had seven active production wells on the platform but that they were all shut down after the fire started.

According to the federal government, the Mariner Energy platform had been producing 58,800 gallons of oil and 900,000 cubic feet of natural gas everyday. The platform can store 4,200 gallons of oil, so the majority of that produced is transported off the platform via a network of pipelines.

Although a deepwater drilling moratorium has been in effect for much of the Gulf of Mexico stemming from the BP disaster, the Mariner Energy platform sits in only 340 feet of water. Because the platform is physically locked into the seabed floor, it is not considered to be a “deepwater” and therefore not subject to the moratorium.

Mariner Energy spokesman Patrick Cassidy noted that the incident on the platform “wasn’t a blowout, it’s not an explosion. The fire appears to have been in or near the living quarters on the upper deck.”

Although there is a visible oil sheen on the water surface, there is no indication that the well itself has been breached.

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Static Kill Procedure Finished in the Gulf, BP Moves onto Relief Wells

The “static kill” procedure, which involved filling the leaking well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico with cement, was finished Friday. Monitoring is ongoing to determine how effective the latest containment effort will be.

Meanwhile, the “bottom kill” procedure will continue, in which more cement will be poured into the well through a relief well.  British oil company BP stated that the static kill procedure complemented the ongoing drilling of relief wells.

US officials had given permission earlier this week to BP to undergo the procedure of pumping mud and cement.

Previously on July 15, BP placed a temporary containment cap over the leak which ended months of oil leakage. Before temporarily capping the well, the government estimates that nearly 5 million barrels had spilled into the Gulf.

Retired U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said the cementing process brings the situation one step closer to a final solution. Allen is the national incident commander for the Deepwater Horizon response.

Allen told reporters, “Let me state, and I have stated this several times, that this is not the end. But it will virtually assure us that there will be no chance of oil leaking into the environment.”

He added, “And we have significantly improved our chances to finally kill the well.”

According to the British oil company, “Depending on weather conditions, mid-August is the current estimate of the most likely date by which the first relief well will intercept the Macondo well annulus.”

President Obama rejoiced in “the welcome news.”

The president had said, “The long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end, and we are very pleased with that.”

Posted in Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

Crude Oil Prices Nearly Flat

NEW YORK, March 26 (UPI) — Crude oil prices for May delivery added 9 cents to hit $80.60 per barrel in New York as the dollar index fell 0.26 percent.

The dollar shifted lower after France and Germany reached an agreement to help Greece with its national debt — an issue that has weighed on the euro for at least a month.

Early Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, heating oil futures for May delivery added 0.0022 cents to $2.0846 per gallon. Reformulated gasoline blendstock for May shed 0.0028 cents to $2.2171 per gallon. Henry Hub natural gas prices for May lost 0.22 cents to $4.007 per million British thermal units.

At the retail level, the average national price for unleaded regular gasoline was $2.811 per gallon Friday, down from Thursday’s $2.813, AAA said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Natural Gas, Oil & Petroleum, Other0 Comments

Crude Oil Prices Approach $81 Per Barrel

NEW YORK, March 25 (UPI) — Crude oil prices for May delivery climbed to nearly $81 per barrel overnight in New York despite sharply rising U.S. inventories.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday crude oil supplies rose by 7.3 million barrels in the week ending March 19.

Light, sweet crude oil prices dipped lower, then rebounded, gaining 31 cents from a recent settlement to $80.92 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

May delivery heating oil futures added 0.0073 cents to $2.078 per gallon. Reformulated gasoline blendstock for May gained 0.0049 cents to $2.2274 per gallon. Henry Hub natural gas prices for May lost 0.027 cents to $4.078 per million British thermal units.

At the retail level, the average national price for unleaded regular gasoline was $2.813 per gallon Thursday, down from Wednesday’s $2.816, AAA said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Natural Gas, Oil & Petroleum, Other0 Comments

Oil Prices Fall As Inventory Rises

NEW YORK, March 24 (UPI) — Crude oil prices for May delivery dropped under $80 in New York Wednesday as equity markets ended a winning streak and the dollar index rose sharply.

The Dow Jones industrial average reached a 17-month high Tuesday with a gain of 102 points, closing at 10,888.83. But the DJIA dropped 52.68 points or 0.48 percent Wednesday to 10,836.15.

With the dollar index rising 1.37 percent, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said crude oil supplies rose by 7.3 million barrels in the week ending March 19.

Light, sweet crude oil prices dropped $1.30 to $80.61 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

May delivery heating oil futures dropped 0.0298 cents to $2.0845 per gallon. Reformulated gasoline blendstock for May fell 0.0285 cents to $2.234 per gallon. Henry Hub natural gas prices for May lost 0.03 cents to $4.16 per million British thermal units.

At the retail level, the average national price for unleaded regular gasoline was $2.816 per gallon Wednesday, unchanged from Tuesday, AAA said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Natural Gas, Oil & Petroleum, Other0 Comments

Crude Oil Supplies Up Sharply

WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) — U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 7.3 million barrels in the week ending March 19, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday.

The energy agency said crude inventories increased from 344 million barrels to 351.3 million barrels during the week and remain above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Gasoline inventories for the week fell by 2.7 million barrels to 224.6 million barrels but remain above the upper limit of the average range.

Supplies of distillate fuels, which include heating oil, were down 2.4 million barrels to 145.7 million barrels.

Inventories of finished gasoline inventories and gasoline blending components inventories fell during the week, the energy agency reported.

Using a four-week rolling average for comparison, demand for motor gasoline is up by 1.2 percent from the same period a year ago, while distillate fuel demand is down 0.9 percent. Jet fuel demand is 6.4 percent lower than the same four-week stretch a year ago.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Oil & Petroleum, Other0 Comments

Crude Oil Futures Drop Monday

NEW YORK, March 22 (UPI) — Crude oil futures opened sharply lower on the New York Mercantile Exchange Monday, dropping under $79 per barrel because of supply concerns.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries held production quotas unchanged in a meeting in Vienna last week “presiding over a supply/demand balance that is essentially in surplus,” Edward Meir, a senior commodity analyst at MF Global told Market Watch.

April delivery, light, sweet crude futures on Monday dropped $1.84 to $78.84 per barrel. Heating oil for April delivery was down 0.0448 cents to $2.0319 a gallon. Reformulated gasoline blendstock lost 0.045 cents to $2.2106 per gallon. Natural gas for April shed 0.113 cents to $4.056 per million British thermal units.

At the pump, the national average price of unleaded gasoline was unchanged Sunday to Monday at $2.82 per gallon, AAA said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Natural Gas, Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

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