‘Missing Oil’ from 2010 BP Spill Found on Gulf Seafloor

Comment from original article: the late Matt Simmons (an expert in oil projects) had said this was happening and stated on multiple occasions that the Macondo blowout had shattered the ocean floor. He died in a hot tub ‘accident’ in August 2010; a few weeks later, the Obama administration said BP had ‘fixed’ the leak. here are links to an article I posted in October 2012 about continuing leaks from Deepwater. http://brooklynculturejammers.com/2012/10/12/deepwater-horizon-again/


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Via Live Science

by Laura Geggel, Staff Writer | February 02, 2015 02:15pm ET

Up to 10 million gallons (38 million liters) of crude oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill has settled at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, where it is threatening wildlife and marine ecosystems, according to a new study.

The finding helps solve the mystery of where the “missing” oil from the spill landed. Its location had eluded both the U.S. government and BP cleanup crews after the April 2010 disaster that caused about 200 million gallons (757 million liters) of crude oil to leak into the Gulf.

“This is going to affect the Gulf for years to come,” Jeff Chanton, the study’s lead researcher and a professor of chemical oceanography at Florida State University, said in a statement. “Fish will likely ingest contaminants because worms ingest the sediment, and fish eat the worms. It’s a conduit for contamination into the food web.” [Deepwater Horizon: Images of an Impact]

The researchers took 62 sediment cores from an area encompassing 9,266 square miles (24,000 square kilometers) around the site of the Deepwater Horizon spill. Unlike other sediment on the ocean floor, oil does not contain any carbon-14, a radioactive isotope. Therefore, sediment samples without carbon-14 indicate that oil is present, Chanton said.

The scientists avoided areas with natural oil seeps, features in which oil slowly leaks onto the ocean floor through a series of cracks. In these areas, the sediment cores would have a lack of carbon-14 throughout the sample. In areas that don’t normally have oil, “the oil is just in the surficial layer, like in that 0 to 1 centimeter [0 to 0.39 inches]” interval,” Chanton told Live Science.

After studying the samples, the researchers made a map of the areas affected by the spill. About 3,243 square miles (8,400 square km) are covered with oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill, they found.

It’s unclear exactly how the oil got there after the spill. One idea is that the oil particles clumped together at the water’s surface, or in plumes from the underwater leak, and became heavy enough to sink to the bottom of the Gulf. Cleanup crews also burned large patches of oil, and the resulting black carbon and ash could have sunk into the water, the researchers said. Or, zooplankton (tiny animals that drift near the water’s surface) may have ingested the oil and discarded it in fecal pellets that sank to the Gulf floor, the researchers added.

For now, the sunken oil may help keep the water above it clear and free of black oil particles, Chanton said, but it’s turning into a long-term problem.

“There’s less oxygen down there, and so that will slow the decomposition rate of the oil,” Chanton said. “It might be there for a long period of time, a little reservoir of contamination.” Moreover, the oil may cause tumors and lesions on underwater animals, research suggests.

The new study supports the findings of another independent study, which found that about 10 percent of the spill’s oil made it to the Gulf floor. Using hopane, a hydrocarbon found in oil, the researchers of that study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October 2014, analyzed sediment samples to see how much oil had fallen to the bottom of the Gulf.

The new study calculates that 3 to 5 percent of the oil from the spill sank to the ocean floor, but the results of the two studies aren’t that different, Chanton said.

“Our number is a little bit more conservative than theirs,” he said, but “if the two approaches agree within a factor of two, that’s pretty good for estimating all of the oil on the seafloor.”

The findings were published Jan. 20 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Four Years After Deepwater Horizon, BP Oil Still Washes Up On Pensacola Beaches

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 4.35.47 PMFrom Real Coastal Warriors: After 200 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, the government and #BP cleanup crews mysteriously had trouble locating all of it. Now, a new study led by Florida State University Professor of Oceanography Jeff Chanton finds that some 6 million to 10 million gallons are buried in the sediment on the Gulf floor, about 62 miles southeast of the Mississippi Delta. Read full details here: http://tinyurl.com/BPLIEDOILSTILLHERE (h/t Trisha Springstead)


From WFSU.org

Four years ago, an oil rig owned by BP exploded off the Louisiana coast—causing one of the largest oil spills in U.S. history. The oil flowed all the way to Florida’s western panhandle, causing tourists to flee and businesses to dry up. Now tourism is back and the money is flowing again—but the oil remains.

Tony Hayward, Genel Energy CEO: now he has his life back

From FT
September, 2014

Tony Hayward has had another turbulent summer. His company, Genel Energy, was forced to pull out staff from some of its oilfields in Iraqi Kurdistan last month as Islamic State militants advanced. Over two weeks, its share price fell 25 per cent.

Things are looking a bit better these days. A new, more inclusive Iraqi government was formed last week that it is hoped will pull the country together and defeat Isis. Genel’s evacuated workers have begun to return.

So, crisis averted, this time anyway. But Mr Hayward is unsure whether Iraq has really turned a corner. “Early signs are hopeful but it’s 50:50 whether this is the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end for Iraq,” he says.

Such geopolitical turmoil would shred the nerves of the average British businessman. But Mr Hayward has been through much worse. Four years ago, he was labelled America’s most hated man as his company, BP, battled to contain the worst offshore oil spill in US history. Less than six months after BP’s stricken well began spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico, he resigned.

For a while, Mr Hayward’s prospects looked bleak. But he has staged a remarkable comeback. In 2011 he teamed up with financier Nat Rothschild to take over Genel, the largest oil producer in Kurdistan. And last year, he was made chairman of Glencore, the global commodities group.

It has been a rollercoaster ride, and Mr Hayward, relaxed, tanned and looking younger than his 57 years, says he is having a lot of fun. “Not many people have the chance to . . . lead one of the world’s biggest companies and then become an entrepreneur and almost create something from nothing,” he says.

His sleek office in Mayfair gives few hints of the many zigzags in his fortunes. The walls are bare, apart from two paintings by Bob Dylan (he is, he says, a “life-long fan”). Nevertheless, the past is never far away. On one shelf stands a photo of Bob, the racing yacht he was caught sailing in off the Isle of Wight at the height of the oil spill crisis, sparking outrage. The White House called it one of a “long line of PR gaffes and mistakes”. Mr Hayward later donated Bob to charity: he now has a new, smaller boat, called Black Fun.

Mr Hayward was born in Slough in 1957 into what he describes as a “lower middle class” family. The oldest of seven children, he was educated in a local state grammar school, where his maths teacher, a passionate amateur geologist, infected him with a love of rocks. He was the first in his family to attend university, reading geology at Aston University and later taking a PhD at Edinburgh . The subject of his thesis was the formation of sedimentary basins in Turkey.

In 1982 he joined BP, and on Christmas day that year was on board the rig that discovered the Miller field, which turned out to be one of the most prolific in the North Sea.

For anyone with a desire to travel, BP was a perfect fit in those days and Mr Hayward tested rocks from north Yemen to Papua New Guinea. It was, he says, like “multiple gap years”. At the age of 25 he was given a helicopter and told to do an eight-week field survey of Canada’s Northwest Territories. He clocked up 50,000 miles travelling round China in a Toyota Land Cruiser.

Mr Hayward soon came to the attention of John Browne, BP’s then head of exploration and production, who in 1990 made him one of his “turtles” or executive assistants, an experience he says gave him “amazing exposure” to all aspects of BP’s business.

He gradually moved up the BP hierarchy, and eventually, in 2007, succeeded Lord Browne as CEO.

Mr Hayward was seen as a nuts-and-bolts man, more down to earth than his visionary predecessor. Lord Browne had transformed BP with a series of massive deals but his reputation was tarnished by incidents such as the 2005 explosion and fire at BP’s Texas City refinery that killed 15 people.

Mr Hayward promised to focus “like a laser” on safety, and set about streamlining BP. As oil prices plummeted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, he slashed costs. But that boomeranged against him when the Macondo well blew out, and critics accused him of putting profits before safety – a claim he always denied.

Either way, his reforms were cut short by the disaster. Soon, Mr Hayward became the very public face of BP’s fitful efforts to staunch the flow of oil from the stricken Macondo well and restore the polluted gulf. He was vilified in the US media after telling one TV crew “I’d like my life back”, and was pilloried in Congress. By October, he had been turfed out.

It was, he says, a “surreal” period. But he now acknowledges that he and BP made two key mistakes. Firstly, they did not manage expectations well. The company made four interventions on the runaway well, and most of them failed to stop it leaking oil: Macondo was plugged for good only when a relief well intercepted it in July 2010, a full three months after the disaster occurred.

“We allowed the impression to build that each [intervention] was going to be successful,” he says. “What we should have said was: look, this is very, very bad, and the real answer is the relief well, and it’s going to take four to five months. We’re going to try some other things, but we don’t expect them to work.”

The other mistake, he says, “was allowing a cool, calm, collected British grammar schoolboy to front the communications”. “There was no way in a million years that I was ever going to connect with the citizens of Louisiana and Texas,” he says. “I needed to have a role, but not the leading role.”

Mr Hayward admits that, after leaving BP in October 2010, he “felt a bit lost”. He shared his experience of crisis management with the boards of various big FTSE 100 companies, but spent most of the ensuing months skiing with his children and climbing Kilimanjaro.

In December, while sitting on a chairlift in the French ski resort of Les Arcs, he received a phone call from Mr Rothschild, who asked if he would like to become the CEO of a public company again. After thinking about it for a while, he gave his answer: yes.

The two helped launch a cash shell, Vallares, which raised £1.35bn in a London flotation in June 2011. Three months later, it carried out a reverse takeover of Genel Energy, a Turkish oil explorer active in Kurdistan.

Mr Hayward’s Glencore appointment underlined how well-regarded he still is in the City. But some critics wonder how he can combine his two jobs. “I think he’s spread very thinly,” says one rival oil executive. “Glencore is a full-time job.”

Mr Hayward dismisses that, saying he was used to working 80-hour weeks at BP. But he acknowledges he might take a reduced role at Genel at some point in the future. “I’m 57 years old,” he says. “There comes a time when you move from being CEO to doing other things.”

Genel’s fortunes have mirrored the uneven progress of the region it operates in. Locked in a dispute with the Iraqi government over control of its oil reserves, Kurdistan has built a pipeline to Turkey that allows it to export beyond Baghdad’s control. As the pipeline was completed and exports began, Genel’s share price rose: but as Isis militants came dangerously close to Kurdistan last month, it fell again. It now stands at £8.76, down 12 per cent on the float price of £10.

Some analysts say Genel will always be hostage to the volatile politics of Iraq, a country many fear could break up. Mr Hayward disputes that. “The company is sitting on some spectacularly big assets in Kurdistan with very strongly growing production and cash flow,” he says. “I think it has a great future.”

Read the remainder at FT

Scientists and Doctors Sound Alarm Over Health Dangers of Oil Spill Dispersants

Read the latest update on the Gulf from Dahr Jamail here

“Where do dispersants go? The earth is a closed ecosystem; there is nowhere to go. Nothing leaves the planet. Once they are sprayed, they don’t go away.”

experts in several areas painted a grim picture of the profound effects of the dispersants on the environment, wildlife and humans, as well as their ongoing human health and environmental impacts in the Gulf of Mexico since the BP crisis.

…[dispersants] contain an “emulsifier that allows chemicals deeper penetration into tissues and cells.”

“Dispersants disrupt both bacterial and human cell membranes,” Mathis explained. “Damage disrupts cell functions, leading to cell failure, and may cause cancers and death. All living things are damaged, including groundwater.”

BP’s Material Safety Data Sheets for Corexit, which were widely available throughout the oil industry well in advance of the BP disaster, warned that the dispersant posed high and immediate human health hazards, but the company, of course, used it anyway

Final phase of BP trial begins tomorrow

From Wall Street Journal

BP faces as much as $13.7 billion in Clean Water Act fines stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Daniel Gilbert and
Justin Scheck
Jan. 18, 2015

After its oil-well explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, BP PLC caught one lucky break: Oil prices surged and boosted its cash flow, helping it to cover billions of dollars in legal and oil-spill cleanup costs.

Now BP is facing up to $13.7 billion in federal fines—about $10 billion more than it has set aside—in much less comfortable economic circumstances now that oil prices have plunged. The company is set to go to trial Jan. 20 in federal court in New Orleans over how much it must pay the U.S. government for each barrel of crude that spilled into the Gulf, in the final phase of litigation stemming from violations of the Clean Water Act.

A global oil glut has sent prices tumbling since the summer. Crude now sells for about 40% less than it did in April 2010, when the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 people and touched off the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

The court’s decision on the fines comes at a vulnerable moment for BP. Once the pride of England—BP stands for British Petroleum—the company already has had to sell off a lot of assets to cover spill costs. One of its biggest bets is in suddenly hostile territory: Russia.

The company is carrying $53.6 billion in debt, $21 billion more than at the time of the spill. Some analysts have been speculating that a slimmed-down BP could become a takeover target once the Deepwater Horizon litigation concludes.

BP is already feeling the effects of lower oil prices. On Thursday it said it would lay off about 300 workers in Scotland, and analysts are lowering their forecasts for BP’s 2014 earnings, which are slated to be released Feb. 3.

The steep price decline “reduces BP’s flexibility to cope with any further claims or shocks,” analysts at Fitch Ratings wrote Friday. The drop “will severely dent earnings in 2015, and will likely stretch BP’s credit profile beyond what is acceptable for an ‘A’ rating, in the short run at least.”

While the collapse in oil prices will crimp BP’s cash flow, the company’s lawyers aim to use it to their advantage. They plan to argue that the price drop has weakened BP Exploration & Production Inc., the subsidiary that is charged with the spill violations, and the court should weigh this in imposing a penalty.

“We look forward to presenting our case at trial,” said J. Andrew Langan, a lawyer representing BP’s subsidiary. The company “should be subject to a Clean Water Act penalty at the lower end of the statutory range.”

BP had $30.7 billion in cash by the end of September. But the company argues that it has no obligation to lend money to its subsidiary and that the court should disregard the broader BP group’s financial resources in imposing a fine.

BP faces up to $13.7 billion in fines stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. European Pressphoto Agency

BP also argues it should get credit for leading the “largest environmental response operation in the nation’s history,” according to court pleadings. The company has incurred $43 billion of spill-related costs, including criminal and civil settlements and $14 billion for the Gulf cleanup.

Lawyers for the government acknowledge that BP spent money that it wasn’t required to, citing $846.2 million that BP paid for research into the spill, tourism promotion, and seafood testing, among other expenses, that could be deducted from the penalty.

But they plan to present evidence that BP’s subsidiary is controlled by the parent and can weather the impact of a fine. Because the subsidiary “can readily access equity, capital, or borrowing from BP, it can pay the maximum penalty,” lawyers for the U.S. Justice Department wrote on Dec. 19, 2014.

High oil prices buoyed BP as it unloaded properties to pay for spill-related costs. The company has raised more than $40 billion from selling assets since 2010, including refineries in California and Texas, and fields in the Gulf, Alaska, Colombia and the North Sea.

“BP sold a hell of a lot of assets when the price of oil was a hell of a lot higher than it is now,” said Richard Champion, chief investment officer at Sanlam Private Investments, which held BP shares as of December. As a result, BP made more money from the sales than it could at current prices, he added.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster spurred a tangle of litigation, including class-action lawsuits filed on behalf of people, businesses and governments that contend that they were hurt by the oil spill.

But the case that could be the most costly is the battle with the U.S. government over violations of the Clean Water Act. Judge Carl Barbier, a federal-district court judge in New Orleans handling the case, divided it into three parts.

In the first step, to determine liability, Judge Barbier ruled in September that in an effort to cuts costs, BP acted recklessly before the drilling rig exploded. On Thursday, the judge ruled on the second major phase of the litigation, finding that BP didn’t act irresponsibly in the wake of the accident.

Judge Barbier concluded that the well leaked 4 million barrels, less than prosecutors had claimed. After subtracting the oil that was captured without spilling into the Gulf, the judge determined BP is liable for a fine on 3.19 million barrels.

Now the question is how much the company must pay in pollution penalties for each of those barrels. The government is seeking a $4,300 fine for each one; BP contends that fines should be capped at $3,000 per barrel.

The penalty sought by the government would be the largest by far for violating the Clean Water Act; BP calls it “a gross outlier compared to penalties in any other case or settlement.” The highest penalty imposed under the act to date is the $1 billion that Transocean Ltd. paid in a 2013 settlement over the same spill.

Tom Claps, a legal analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group, estimates that BP’s penalty will likely total about $6 billion to $7 billion. In addition to BP’s steps to clean up the spill, he says, Judge Barbier found BP bears only two-thirds of the blame for the accident, with contractors Transocean and Halliburton Co. at fault for 30% and 3%, respectively.

Write to Daniel Gilbert at daniel.gilbert@wsj.com and Justin Scheck at justin.scheck@wsj.com