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#BP Oil Spill

From BP is still fighting penalties over the worst oil spill in US history Not So Slick

BP is still fighting penalties over the worst oil spill in US history

The company could be fined up to $13.7 billion for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

From BP confirms advanced talks with Russia's state controlled oil company Oil

BP confirms advanced talks with Russia's state controlled oil company

The new $30 billion deal would put an end to recent disputes between BP and its partners

From Drilling thrives 18 months after BP oil spill Oil

Drilling thrives 18 months after BP oil spill

The first new drilling began in the region in March of this year – and is thriving even after the disastrous BP oil spill.

From BP and contractors face $45million fine over Deepwater Horizon spill BP Oil Spill

BP and contractors face $45million fine over Deepwater Horizon spill

The three companies could be fined up to $35,000 per day – but that figure is reportedly dwarfed by their profits.

From Better management would “almost certainly” have stopped BP oil spill BP Oil Spill

Better management would “almost certainly” have stopped BP oil spill

The US presidential commission investigating the BP oil spill finds that lax controls and cost-cutting were the chief culprits.

From BP knew cement used on Deepwater Horizon well was faulty USA

BP knew cement used on Deepwater Horizon well was faulty

Investigators say BP and the company which produced supplied the cement knew that the compound was unstable and could be vulnerable before the rig blew up.

137 DAYS after the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil well, BP has announced it has sealed off the Maconda oil well for good. The company had stopped the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in early August, but only completed cementing the leak overnight. BP will now inspect the failed ‘blow-out preventer’ to examine why the explosion happened at all.

From Obama laments “man-made catastrophe” of Hurricane Katrina Hurricane Katrina

Obama laments “man-made catastrophe” of Hurricane Katrina

President tells New Orleans that the legacy of Katrina must be one “of action” but stops short of admonishing BP.

BP’S EXECUTIVES will be happy that Brad Pitt doesn’t seem to plan on running for office any time soon: he wants to kill them.

Being interviewed for a new Spike Lee documentary about the effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans, If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise, Pitt said he had never supported capital punishment previously but was willing to make an exception for BP.

In a quote relayed by USA Today reviewing the film, Pitt said:

I was never for the death penalty before. I am willing to look at it again.

Pitt, along with partner Angelina Jolie, is the founder of the Make It Right organisation that has rebuilt homes in Louisiana after the devastation of the hurricane in 2005.

Lee’s film is the follow-up to his acclaimed 2006 work, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.

BP HAS AGREED to pay a record $50.6m (€39.3m) fine for failing to impose the correct safety standards at a plant in Texas where 15 people were killed after an explosion in 2005.

The United States’ Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said the penalty “rightly reflects BP’s disregard for workplace safety” and hopes to collect another $30m (€23.3m) in fines from BP relating to the incident.

The fine is the largest ever given out by the United States to an employer for violation of safety practices, and follows a similar fine of $21.5m levied for the same incident in 2005.

The fines are dwarfed, however, by the $500m BP has agreed to spend on fixing safety problems at the refinery, and the $373m it paid in 2007 to settle criminal and civil charges in respect of the explosion.

All of the above, however, will be massively superseded by the fines that the company will face as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico this year.

Its fines for that spill will range from a minimum of $1,100 (€836) to a maximum $4,300 (€3,269) per barrel spilled, depending on the level of negligence shown by BP – meaning the company could be fined as much as $21 billion as a result.

The American government has agreed, meanwhile, to accept BP’s revenues as collateral for its contributions to the fines, having originally demanded been reluctant to do so in case it ended up having to repossess the oil well that had caused such ecological damage.

BP will also likely face massive fines after it was found that warning alarms on the Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded killing 11 people and triggering the Gulf spill, had been turned off so as to allow employees sleep through the night.

BP SAYS ITS much-ancitipated ‘static kill’ operation intended to seal the leak at the Gulf of Mexico oil well has been successful – meaning it can now press ahead with pouring cement on the leak and sealing it for good.

The procedure saw engineers pour huge quantities of thick, heavy mud onto the site of the leak of the underground Maconda well, which sprang after an explosion on board the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20.

The mud has now reached a “static condition”, with the oil pressure being controlled exactly as engineers had hoped. BP has called the news a “significant milestone“.

While the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico itself had been stopped for two weeks after BP fitted a containment cap – manufactured by Cameron International in Longford – to the leak, the new procedure has halted oil flow from the well entirely.

In a statement, BP said that the construction of a relief well was the ultimate final course of action, and construction of the first well – which began in May – is scheduled for completion within two weeks.

Once the relief wells have been completed, engineers will simply need to pour cement over the site of the explosion to seal the damage for good.

In a separate development, a new US government survey has determined that only 26% of the oil released from the spill is still present in a thick-enough slick to cause any problems.

Most of the oil seeped by the well, it said, is either present merely in a light coat on the ocean’s surface or in smaller chunks below the surface. In both cases, oil collections are being rapidly broken down.

BP CONFIRMED TODAY that CEO Tony Hayward will step down from his post in October. He will receive a compensation package worth over $13.5 million – but he still won’t be out of a job.

Hayward, 58, is reported to be taking up a non-executive role in BP’s Russian subisdiary, and paid  a year’s salary worth around €1 million, in lieu of the one year’s notice he is entitled too. The company said the decision was made mutually.

He will also get an immediate annual pension of about €716,000 when he leaves the CEO position. The full pension pot is valued over €13 million, according to the BBC.

Hayward has been heavily criticised by US politicans and residents along the Gulf coast for his handling of the leak in the weeks after the April spill. He was accused of ‘stonewalling‘ the US Congress when questioned about the leak and subsequent clean-up.

Bob Dudley, who will take over from Hayward, faces the unenviable task of overseeing the clean-up operation, and improving the company’s public image.

Today, the company posted a loss of $17 billion (€13 billion) – a record quarterly loss for the company. The company has reported profits of $4.39 billion (€3.38) for Q2 last year. BP also set aside $32.2 billion to cover costs arising from the oil spill, and will sell $30 billion in assets over the next 18 months to boost its finances.

Greenpeace activists in London succeeded in closing almost 50 BP petrol stations in a move timed to coincide with the company’s quarterly report. The day-long action is in protest against BP’s reaction to the oil spill, which Greenpeace says hasn’t gone far enough.

TONY HAYWARD is today expected to finalise the terms of his departure from BP’s top job – and can expect a golden handshake of £500,000 on top of his £10.8m (€12.9m) pension pot.

The 53-year-old CEO – who has been with BP for 28 years – has built up a massive pension fund which he can start drawing when he turns 60, but will be able to make do with the year’s salary he is entitled to, which also nets him over £1m (€1.19m).

He is also expected to be offered a golden handshake of £578,000 (€691,000).

Hayward’s position has been seen as increasingly untenable since an ill-fated comment after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill – which began after an explosion killed 11 of his staff – in which he declared: “I want my life back.”

President Barack Obama expedited Hayward’s departure by responding: “He wouldn’t be working for me after any of those statements.”

In a measure of BP’s need to reform its public image in the wake of the oil spill, it’s expected that Hayward will be succeeded by Bob Dudley, who – aside from being an American – has been charged with leading the Gulf clean-up operation.

Dudley, the current managing director, has previously been described by Hayward as the BP “management team’s foreign secretary”.

News of Hayward’s expected departure saw BP shares jump by over 7% in London – adding over £2bn to the company’s net worth.

THE BOARD OF BP meets tomorrow to discuss the firm’s second-quarter results – but is expected to spend most of its meeting debating whether to retain Tony Hayward as chief executive.

A source close to the board told Reuters the meeting would focus “on the timing of Hayward’s departure, rather than whether or not he would stay with the company.”

Hayward has become the public figure for BP’s error-prone efforts to repair the damage caused by the April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed eleven and kickstarted a 13-week leak into the Gulf of Mexico.

Having essentially plugged the rupture in the underground Maconda oil well, BP this week begins its efforts to repair the environmental damage caused by the spill.

Initial efforts to address the environmental disaster – described as the worst in the country’s history – and to permanently seal the leak were held up by the presence of Tropical Storm Bonnie, which has since moved away to the Mexican coast.

The size of fleet – which comprises 5,600 vessels, making the fleet the largest assembled since the Allied landings on Normandy – has sparked concerns that the size of the effort will itself cause more harm than good.

An administrator with the Environmental Protection Agency conceded that “absolutely nothing you do to respond to an oil spill is without impacts of its own,” while a fisheries scientist from the Louisiana State University said one craft, the ‘A Whale’ which sucks up 20 million gallons of water a day, and filters out the oil – “will suck in a lot of biology.”

A TECHNICIAN who worked on BP’s ‘Deepwater Horizon’ oil rig says some safety alarms were turned off the day the rig caught fire and exploded, causing the oil leak that destroyed the Gulf of Mexico.

The alarms on the rig were commonly set to “inhibited”, he said, so that the crew could sleep through the night without being woken up by emergency lights and sirens.

Mike Williams told investigators that the rig’s operators “did not want people woke up at 3am from false alarms.”

While it can’t be known whether the alarms could have saved the lives of the 11 people killed when the explosion took place, the investigators believe a functioning alarm would have assisted efforts to evacuate the rig.

Transocean, the company which leased the rig to BP, said workers were permitted to stop alarms from going off “when one of the hundreds of local alarms activates for what could be a minor issue or a non-emergency.”

It insisted that the practice “was not a safety oversight or done as a matter of convenience.”

Williams told the six-man panel investigating the oil spill that he had survived the pre-explosion fire by jumping from the rig.

The developments came days after a BP manager who had been on board the rig shortly before the blast that Halliburton, acting as a contractor on the oil well, had warned that the blowout preventer – which failed when the explosion occured – could have been faulty.

The Irish Times leads with the announcement that the two Irish banks tested by the EU passed their stress tests, but says that questions have been asked about the rigour of their tests given the fact that just seven institutions (out of 91) failed.

It also carries news of how Richard Bruton told the MacGill Summer School that Fine Gael would replace every single member of every State board within six months of taking office, should they win the next general election.

Inside, it reveals that Lucinda Creighton held a fundraising event in April that was attended by a heavily indebted property developer – and that she was unaware that he had been hauled before the Commercial Court just a month before.

The Times’ magazine recounts the experiences of an Irish graduate, Sarah Geraghty, who moved to Washington for nine months to kick-start her career.

The Irish Independent leads with a declaration of how a series of forthcoming mortgage interest rate hikes will send homeowners “right over the edge” and break their finances beyond repair, according to mortgage experts.

Inside, it reports that a Galway resident was sentences to five years in prison after being found guilty of attacking his wife’s toes with a Stanley knife, as well as biting her noes and slashing her face in a subsequent attack.

The Weekend Review magazine profiles RTÉ broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan and how she sustains “a loving husband, the happy family, and a media career that has broken the mould” at the age of 50.

The Irish Examiner leads with calls for a national debate on knife crime from victims’ support groups, after 20-year-old James Joyce was stabbed to death in front of his pregnant girlfriend.

It also reports on criticisms from residents across the country at government plans to introduce tolls on national roads, with reports coming from Age Action Ireland, the AA and from Fianna Fáil backbenchers.

The Star leads with a similar tack to the Examiner, revealing that Joyce told his friends “I’m alive” seconds before he was fatally stabbed on Thursday night.

Inside, it disappoints readers by claiming it could not coax Paul the Octopus to predict the winners of the Galway Races.

On its back page it carries a warning to Juventus from two-time former coach and current Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, saying that Shamrock Rovers have the potential to cause them serious problems in their Europa League clash.

Abroad, The Guardian leads with the political return of Gordon Brown, who in his first major appearance since the formation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, called for ‘smart aid’ for Africa.

Haaretz of Israel reports that the country has warned the UN that North Korea’s plans to develop ballistic missiles could scupper plans for peace in the Middle East.

And in France, Le Figaro reports that the Deepwater Horizon explosion that caused the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico could have been avoided, because safety alarms on the platform had been turned off to let employees sleep.

BP ENGINEERS monitoring the oil spill have detected methane seeping into the ocean floor – suggesting that there are problems with the new cap applied to the site of the spill last week.

The presence of methane suggests that there may be a fresh spring of oil leaking out nearby.

Late last night the US government official in charge of the repair works, Thad Allen, wrote to BP demanding that it outline plans on how to reopen the newly-installed cap so as to full oil to the surface.

BP suggests that the process would take three days, however, but has declined to officially comment.

As we reported yesterday, there had been concerns when the Longford-made cap was installed that the pressure levels in the underground Maconda oil well were lower than anticipated.

The low pressure meant that either BP had over-estimated the total quantity of the Maconda well, under-estimated the quantity of oil being leaked through it, 0r the complete plugging of the leak has caused another minor one to spring elsewhere.

It would now appear that the latter possibility has been feared true, orl that the cap itself is not fully halting the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The events are undoubtedly cause for concern for American leaders and will be a topic of conversation when Barack Obama meets British prime minister David Cameron in Washington on Tuesday.

BP HAS CONFIRMED that the new cap at the site of the Gulf oil leak is working, but admits it’s worried about the low level of pressure being recorded in the oil well. The low pressure suggests either another minor leak, or that the original leak was bigger than first thought.

BP HAS CONFIRMED that the Longford-manufactured containment cap lowered five kilometres below sea level of the Gulf of Mexico oil leak has managed to completely halt the flow of oil coming from the spill.

By shutting off some valves on the cap bolted to the piping surrounding the oil spill yesterday, the oil company was able to totally stop any oil flow into the sea – for the first time in almost three months.

The process is not over, however – BP is conducting stress tests on the well for the next 48 hours, mindful that the significant pressure shift in the underground Macondo will could result in another leak springing elsewhere.

If the well holds up, BP will release the pressure on the well and run seismic checks before sealing the valves for good.

Although the cap is not considered a permanent solution to the oil leak, it does mean that BP can still totally halt the flow of oil should its efforts to seal the leak for good be interrupted by any tropical storms.

President Barack Obama called the seal’s success “a positive sign”, but added: “We’re still in the testing phase.”

The oil spill had been ongoing for over twelve weeks and had seen between 35,000-60,000 barrels of oil leaked into the sea on a daily basis.

BP’s share price in New York rose on the news of the success of the valve, closing at $38.92 (up over 7%) yesterday, though still a long way off the $60.48 recorded when the Deepwater Horizon explosion took place.