ExxonMobil’s oil spill emergency response plan is redacted by the federal government. Not a joke.
Burst Pipeline’s Spill Plan Is None of Your Business, Suggests Regulator
Federal regulators have released ExxonMobil’s 2013 emergency response plan for the pipeline that ruptured in an Arkansas residential neighborhood on March 29, but the document is so heavily redacted that it offers little information about Exxon’s preparations for such an accident.
The suspension, announced by the Environmental Protection Agency, comes on the heels of BP’s November 15 agreement with the U.S. government to plead guilty to criminal misconduct in the Gulf of Mexico disaster, the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The British energy giant agreed to pay $4.5 billion in penalties, including a record $1.256 billion criminal fine.
BP and its affiliates are barred from new federal contracts until they demonstrate they can meet federal business standards, the EPA said. The suspension is “standard practice” and BP’s existing U.S. government contracts are not affected, it said.
The EPA acted hours before a government auction of offshore tracts in the Gulf of Mexico, a region where BP is the largest investor and lease-holder of deep-water tracts and hopes for further growth. BP is also the top fuel supplier to the U.S. military, the largest single buyer of oil in the world.
Suspension of contracts could give the government leverage to pressure BP to settle federal and state civil litigation that could top $20 billion if a court finds BP was grossly negligent in the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
An EPA official said government-wide suspensions generally do not exceed 18 months, but can continue longer if there are ongoing legal cases.
In a statement, BP said it has been in “regular dialogue” with the EPA, and that the agency has informed BP that it is preparing an agreement that “would effectively resolve and lift this temporary suspension.” The EPA has notified BP that the draft agreement will be available soon, BP said.
"The sheen, located about 50 miles off Louisiana’s shore in the Mississippi Canyon block 252 where the Macondo well was drilled, was detected in satellite images taken on Sept. 9 and Sept. 14. The Coast Guard said the size of the sheen has varied with weather conditions.
Samples of the crude were collected and sent to a Coast Guard laboratory in New London, Conn. On Tuesday, the Coast Guard told BP and Transocean, owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that caught fire and sank, that the oil from the sheen and spill matched.
In a meeting Wednesday, the Coast Guard told the companies to come up with a plan of action for determining the source. “No one’s 100 percent as to where it’s coming from,” said Frank Csulak, scientific support coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Since the disaster in 2010, which killed 11 workers, the wreckage of the massive rig, the crumpled riser and some hardware used in the attempt to kill the well have remained on the gulf floor.”
The Russian oil industry spills more than 30 million barrels on land each year — seven times the amount that escaped during the Deepwater Horizon disaster — often under a veil of secrecy and corruption. And every 18 months, more than four million barrels spews into the Arctic Ocean, where it becomes everyone’s problem.
So, I came across an article this morning about an odd oil-rig protest as part of my morning read. A handful of activists are protesting the first ever oil rig in the Arctic sea. They’ve literally tied themselves to the side of big tanker ship in the Arctic.
Yeah, bizarre but it’s true. Greenpeace is live blogging it now. The Russian Coast Guard has been called in and the protesters will be in big trouble, I’m sure of it.
The oil rig is run by the largest natural gas company in the world, called Gazprom. It’s also Russia’s largest company. They’re also one of the most pollutive, hazardous companies on planet Earth. I didn’t know any of this until this morning. What do you think can be done?
Looks to be a blockbuster. The document shows Obama has been secretly negotiating with foreign governments to allow any international businesses that operate in the U.S. to operate outside American law, including environmental regulations. Instead of the corporations being beholden by American courts, an international tribunal will be set up as an alternative. Some democrats, republicans, and hand full of environmental NGOs are ripped. Not only because Obama is holding negotiations behind closed doors, but it’s in direct contradiction to his public stance, which is why this leak is so important.
The newly leaked document is one of the most controversial of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. It addresses a broad sweep of regulations governing international investment and reveals the Obama administration’s advocacy for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.
Under the agreement currently being advocated by the Obama administration, American corporations would continue to be subject to domestic laws and regulations on the environment, banking and other issues. But foreign corporations operating within the U.S. would be permitted to appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings to an international tribunal. That international tribunal would be granted the power to overrule American law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its rulings.
"This isn’t the first time a pipeline company hasn’t even been aware when one of its pipelines starts spewing oil. Just last month, another oil spill in Alberta went undetected for days, eventually spilling 22,000 barrels of oil. And, Enbridge’s massive tar sands oil spill in Michigan in 2010 went unnoticed, with it taking the company 17 hours to respond and shut off the flow of oil.”
"A pair of scientists have accused BP of an attack on academic freedom after the oil company successfully subpoenaed thousands of confidential emails related to research on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
The accusation from oceanographers Richard Camilli and Christopher Reddy offered a rare glimpse into the behind-the-scenes legal manoeuvring by BP in the billion-dollar legal proceedings arising from the April 2010 blow-out of its well.
It also heightened fears among scientists of an assault on academic freedoms, following the legal campaign against a number of prominent climate scientists.
In an opinion piece in the Boston Globe, the scientists, from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said they volunteered in the early days of the spill to deploy robotic technology to help BP and the Coast Guard assess how much oil was gushing from the well.
The two researchers turned over some 50,000 pages of research notes and data to BP. But BP demanded more, and obtained a court subpoena for the handover of more than 3,000 confidential emails. The scientists handed over the emails last week – but with severe misgivings, they wrote.
"Our concern is not simply invasion of privacy, but the erosion of the scientific deliberative process," they wrote. They feared the email exchanges, in which the scientists discuss hitting dead ends or challenging each other on their conclusions, were open to deliberate misinterpretation.
"Incomplete thoughts and half-finished documents attached to emails can be taken out of context and impugned by people who have a motive for discrediting the findings. In addition to obscuring true scientific findings, this situation casts a chill over the scientific process. In future crises, scientists may censor or avoid deliberations, and more importantly, be reluctant to volunteer valuable expertise and technology that emergency responders don’t possess."
The struggle over the emails indicates the looming legal significance of any data related to the flow of oil from the stricken well.”
"The ship formerly known as the Exxon Valdez, responsible for one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history, appears destined for the scrap heap in a shipyard along the Indian Gulf of Cambay…
The tanker ran aground at Alaska’s Bligh Reef on March 24, 1989, and spewed 11 million gallons of crude oil into the rich fishing waters of Prince William Sound.
The shoreline was coated with petroleum sludge. Towns like Cordova that relied on fishing the sound were devastated. An incalculable amount of damage was done to marine species and the surrounding environment.
An Anchorage jury in 1991 called for Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. to pay $5 billion in punitive damages, thought the U.S Supreme Court later reduced that to $507.5 million. Some litigation related to the spill is still ongoing.
Exxon maintained at the time that it should not be liable for the actions of the supertanker’s skipper, Joseph Hazelwood, when the nearly 1,000-foot vessel ran aground with 53 million gallons of oil in its hold.
According to prosecutors, Hazelwood was drunk, but he denied it and was acquitted of the charge in criminal court.”
Just five months after Chevron lost its drilling rights for causing the largest oil spill in recent memory off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, they’ve gone and done it again. According to Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency (ANP), Chevron has reported that a new leak of indeterminate size has been detected near the site of last November’s spill — and it could present a a major setback for the U.S. oil company’s ambitions to drill in the region’s oil-rich Frade Field.
A NOAA satellite image off Nigeria’s coastline shows the new Shell oil spill covering a 356-square-mile patch of ocean.
“Nigeria Oil Spill Raises Concerns About New Drilling Technology
By Deepwater Horizon mega-disaster benchmarks, it’s not so big — but it might be in the Exxon Valdez ballpark, and underscores the risks of a new deepwater oil-gathering technique that’s coming soon to the Gulf of Mexico.
“The significance here is the technology they’re using,” said John Amos of the environmental watchdog group Skytruth. “It’s a whole new source of potentially major oil spills.”
The spill occurred Dec. 20 at Shell’s Bonga deepwater facility, prompting an immediate temporary closure of the oil field. Shell estimated that up to 40,000 barrels of oil — about 7 million gallons, compared to 11 million gallons for the Exxon Valdez — leaked.
Unlike the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which involved the blowout of a wellhead 5,000 feet deep, the Bonga spill occurred at the surface during transfer of crude oil between ships. It was relatively easy to fix, which at first glance might seem reassuring.
“It is important to stress that this was not a well control incident of any sort,” said Shell Nigeria chairman Mutiu Sunmonu in a statement. But Amos says the spill is still troubling.
Oil in the Bonga deepwater field is collected by a method known as floating production storage and offloading, or FPSO, in which crude oil is piped to floating, mobile tanks, usually converted supertankers, rather than fixed platforms. Shuttle tankers collect oil from the FPSO and carry it to market.”