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BP and Halliburton knew of Gulf oil well cement flaws

29 Oct

article from Guardian.co.uk

Fire burning at  Deepwater Horizon oil rig
Fire burns on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April. Investigators say cement used on the well did not meet industry standards. Photograph: US coastguard/EPA
BP and Halliburton were aware of flaws in the cement used to seal the doomed well in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the lead investigator for the presidential commission on the oil spill.

In a letter to the commission, the investigator, Fred Bartlit, said the cement mixture used on the well did not meet industry standards, and failed three out of four laboratory tests before the Deepwater Horizon explosion on 20 April.

Halliburton, which was hired by BP to cement the well, learned of those failures in February, and informed BP on 8 March. But both firms chose to go ahead with the nitrogen foam cement mixture, which was supposed to secure the bottom of the well.

“Halliburton (and perhaps BP) should have considered redesigning the foam slurry,” the letter said.

However, Halliburton said it did not believe that the foam cement design used on the well caused the incident. “Halliburton believes that significant differences between its internal cement tests and the commission’s test results may be due to differences in the cement materials tested,” the company said in a statement issued in response to the letter. “The commission tested off-the-shelf cement and additives, whereas Halliburton tested the unique blend of cement and additives that existed on the rig at the time Halliburton’s tests were conducted.”

The company added: “Halliburton believes that had BP conducted a cement bond log test, or had BP and others properly interpreted a negative pressure test, these tests would have revealed any problems with Halliburton’s cement.”

A fourth test, performed in April, did indicate the cement would hold. But Bartlit said BP did not have the results of that test before 19 April, when it ordered work crews to begin pumping cement into the well.

The finding offers some good news for BP, whose own investigative report on the spill last month zeroed in on problems in the cement seal performed by Halliburton.

Like BP’s investigators, the commission conducted its own tests on the cement design used by Halliburton – although they had an exact recipe. The mixture failed all nine stability tests.

The companies involved in the catastrophic spill – BP, Transocean, which owned the rig, Halliburton, and others – are engaged in a high stakes fight to shift blame, and millions of dollars in liability, for the explosion and spill.

Bartlit cautioned that the failure of the cement seal alone was not the sole cause for the oil disaster.

“The story of the blowout does not turn solely on the quality of the Macondo cement job. Cementing wells is a complex endeavour and industry figures inform us that cementing failures are not uncommon in the best of circumstances,” he wrote.

The oil industry had developed other common tests to ensure against cement failures, he said. “BP and/or Transocean personnel misinterpreted or chose not to conduct such tests at the Macondo well.”

Suzanne Goldenberg and Julia Kollewe

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The report BP doesn’t want you to read

27 Oct

Furious Growth and Cost Cuts Led To BP Accidents Past and Present

A ProPublica and PBS FRONTLINE investigation. “The Spill [1],” a PBS FRONTLINE documentary drawn from this reporting, airs tonight. Check local listings. [2]

Jeanne Pascal turned on her TV April 21 to see a towering spindle of black smoke slithering into the sky from an oil platform on the oceanic expanse of the Gulf of Mexico. For hours she sat, transfixed on an overstuffed couch in her Seattle home, her feelings shifting from shock to anger.

Pascal, a career Environmental Protection Agency attorney only seven weeks into her retirement, knew as much as anyone in the federal government about BP, the company that owned the well. She understood in an instant what it would take others months to grasp: In BP’s 15-year quest to compete with the world’s biggest oil companies, its managers had become deaf to risk and systematically gambled with safety at hundreds of facilities and with thousands of employees’ lives.

“God, they just don’t learn,” she remembers thinking.

Just weeks before the explosion, President Obama had announced a historic expansion of deep-water drilling in the Gulf, where BP held the majority of the drilling leases. The administration considered the environmental record of drilling companies in the Gulf to be excellent. It didn’t ask questions about BP, and it didn’t consider that the company’s long record of safety violations and environmental accidents might be important, according to Carol Browner, the White House environmental adviser.

They could have asked Jeanne Pascal.

For 12 years, Pascal had wrestled with whether BP’s pattern of misconduct should disqualify it from receiving billions of dollars in government contracts and other benefits. Federal law empowers government officials to “debar”—ban from government business—companies that commit fraud or break the law too many times. Pascal was a senior EPA debarment attorney for the Northwest, and her job was to act as a sort of behind-the-scenes babysitter for companies facing debarment. She worked with their top management, reviewed records and made sure they were good corporate citizens entitled to government contracts.

At first, Pascal thought BP would be another routine assignment. Over the years she’d persuaded hundreds of troubled energy, mining and waste-disposal companies to quickly change their behavior. But BP was in its own league. On her watch she would see BP charged with four federal crimes—more than any other oil company in her experience—and demonstrate what she described as a pattern of disregard for regulations and for the EPA. By late 2009 she was warning the government and BP executives themselves that the company’s approach to safety and environmental issues made another disaster likely.


for the whole article go to ProPublica

The story that needs to be told – BP, The Gulf and the People

18 Oct

The Frontier is a feature documentary portrait of coastal Louisiana that celebrates the dynamic relationship between the people and their place in hopes of raising awareness about the environmental and industrial threats that endanger it. The film is in the middle stages of a year-long production period and we are raising funds to complete principal work.

In May 2010 our team completed 1 of 6 planned production periods. 2 of 6 was completed in July. 4 REMAIN to complete in the next 8 months. The $12,000 we are trying to raise will fund these remaining production periods for this timely portrait of the imperiled coast of Louisiana.

We’re collaborating with a number of eco-friendly companies, like 350.org, Ocean Champions, Klean Kanteen, Ecobags, Colcasac, Defend the Coast, Heads of State, and A Bryan Photo, to raise awareness and bring you cool rewards to help make your donation even more worthwhile. You can check out the blog/updates tab above for pictures of each.

HIGH STAKES

Unless we meet our goal and raise the $12,000 by October 25th, we don’t get ANY of your pledged contributions.

PLEASE HELP US REACH OUR GOAL SO THAT THIS TIMELY FILM CAN BE AS POIGNANT AND BEAUTIFUL AS IT DESERVES TO BE!!!

CONTACT

To say hello, share an idea, or join The Frontier team, you can visit us online at www.thefrontierfilm.com, follow our progress on Twitter at @Frontierfilm or email us at info@thefrontierfilm.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Ocean Dead Zones Spreading in U.S. Waters

22 Sep

Article from TakePart.com

The image of an ocean dead zone is stark: a barren, underwater desert of silt, littered with the bodies of suffocated crabs and asphyxiated fish.

Caused when agricultural runoff feeds huge algae blooms that suck oxygen out of the water when they decay, so-called hypoxic zones are increasingly common in U.S. waters, a recent government study finds.

Thirty times more common, in fact.

In a report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a White House commission September 3, researchers said the 30-fold increase has occurred since 1960. At least 300 U.S. waterways now have “stressful” or hypoxic zones.

The problem is so sweeping that it now affects all of the nation’s coasts and even the Great Lakes, AOL’s David Knowles reports. Climate change is also suspected to be a factor.

The Gulf of Mexico dead zone is the largest and best known, caused mainly by runoff spewing out of the Mississippi. The zone was predicted to spread over an area up to 7,800 square miles in 2010, putting it about the size of New Jersey.

Waters off of Oregon and Washington are perhaps the most in trouble, constituting the third-largest seasonal dead zone in the world, Knowles writes.

Dead zones are also on the rise globally, according to Helium. The number of dead zones worldwide increased from 146 in 2004 to 405 in 2008.

In U.S. waters, the report mainly blames the rise in industrial agriculture for the increase in hypoxic areas. Efforts to stem the activity “have not made significant headway,” a release on the report reads.

“It is imperative that we move forward to better understand and prevent hypoxic events, which threaten all our coasts,” wrote experts in a letter accompanying the report.

The largest dead zone in the world is in the Baltic Sea, where the oxygen depleted waters stretch to the size of Denmark.

Bio-Remediation or Bio-Hazard? Dispersants, Bacteria and Illness in the Gulf

20 Sep

Upsetting News!

Ocean Springs, MS — A grandmother made me rethink all the bio-remediation hype. The “naturally-occurring oil-eating bacteria” have been newsworthy of late as they are supposedly going to come to the rescue of President Obama and BP and make good on their very premature statement that “the oil is gone.”

We were talking about subsurface oil in the Gulf when she said matter-of-factly, “The bacteria are running amok with the dispersants.” What? “Those oil-eating bacteria — I think they’re running amok and causing skin rashes.” My mind reeled. Could we all have missed something so simple?

The idea was crazy but, in the context of the Gulf situation — an outbreak of mysterious persistent rashes from southern Louisiana across to just north of Tampa, Florida, coincident with BP’s oil and chemical release, it seemed suddenly worthy of investigating.

I first heard about the rash from Sheri Allen in Mobile, Alabama. Allen wrote of red welts and blisters on her legs after “splashing and wading on the shoreline” of Mobile Bay with her two dogs on May 8. She reported that “hundreds of dead fish” washed up on the same beach over the following two days. This was much too early for the summer sun to have warmed the water to the point of oxygen depletion, but not too early for dispersants and dispersed oil to be mixed into the Gulf’s water mass. By early July, Allen’s rash had healed, leaving black bruises and scarring.

read whole article on Huffington post

Five months after BP oil rig disaster, US government declares well ‘dead’

20 Sep

So finally the moment is there after 5 horrible months the oil well is finally closed! This doesn’t mean the problem is over like BP and U.S officials would like to let you believe. The effects of this massive disaster will still have to come out, the coming 10 years the Gulf needs to stay high priority and under major surveillance by the world community.

article by Guardian.co.uk

The clean-up operation on the coast of Louisiana at the height of the spill

The clean-up operation on the coast of Louisiana at the height of the spill Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

The US government has declared the blown-out BP well in the Gulf of Mexico, which caused the biggest oil spill in American history, “effectively dead” after a final plug of cement was pumped in.

Five months after the explosion that killed 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon rig and let loose millions of barrels of crude oil, the well passed a pressure test yesterday that confirmed it was sealed about 5,000 metres below the sea bed.

“We can finally announce that the Macondo 252 well is effectively dead,” said Thad Allen, the former coast guard admiral heading the government response to the spill. Allen declared that the well “poses no continuing threat to the Gulf of Mexico”.

The spill was brought to a halt in July with a temporary cap while a relief well was completed. That well finally reached the main shaft on Thursday, permitting the cement plug to be pumped in.

Barack Obama hailed the news as an “important milestone” and praised those who “worked around the clock to respond to this crisis and ultimately complete this challenging but critical step to ensure that the well has stopped leaking for ever”.

read whole article @ guardian.co.uk

Thousands More Dead Fish Turn Up in La. Waters

17 Sep

Associated Press

Thousands more dead fish have turned up in Plaquemines Parish, the second large such kill in the area in the past few days. (Sept. 17)