June 11th, 2010
09:07 PM ET

Day 53: Latest developments on the Gulf oil disaster

[Updated at 9:07 p.m.] Here are the latest developments on the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which unfolded after the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20:

LATEST NEWS

- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused BP of having "misrepresented what their technology could do." 
 
- Oil giant BP gets support from billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg: "The guy that runs BP didn't exactly go down there and blow up the well," he told a radio program. 
 
- Nearly 42,000 claims have been submitted and more than 20,000 payments made, totaling more than $53 million, BP says. So far, the cost of the response is $1.43 billion, it said. 
 
- Uncertainty about the depth of BP's pockets has spurred calls for the company to suspend its dividend payments. London's TimesOnline reported Friday that the company may funnel its second-quarter dividend into an escrow account to be paid to shareholders. 
 
- More than 25,000 contractors, volunteers and members of the military were involved on the ground, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said. 
 
- As early as Monday, BP plans to deploy a secondary to a primary cap that was put in place over the leaking well last week. Allen has said he expects that the Q4000 will be able to take an additional 5,000 to 10,000
barrels per day. 
 
- A delegation of U.S. senators traveled Friday to the heart of coastal Louisiana to assess the damage. "Until you see if first-hand, until you really smell it, get a sense of it, you can't understand it fully," said Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana. 

- An Obama adviser brushed off assertions Friday that the government had not prepared for a disaster of such magnitude. 

- If the latest estimate of 1.7 million gallons of oil spewing per day is correct, that would mean 90.1 million gallons have spewed in the 53 days since the rig exploded. That's more than eight times the amount spilled by the supertanker Exxon Valdez in Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989.

- The U.S. government has spent about $140 million in cleaning up the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, Adm. Thad Allen, the government's response manager, said Friday. He said federal authorities plan to keep "pouring in assets."

- Federal authorities are considering BP's proposals for increased oil collection rates and back-up plans and will make a determination later Friday on whether they are acceptable, said Adm. Thad Allen, the government's Gulf of Mexico disaster response manager. BP had been given 72 hours to deliver its plans.

- British Prime Minister David Cameron will discuss BP when he speaks by phone with U.S. President Barack Obama this weekend, Cameron's office at Downing Street said Friday. The phone call follows concern about anti-British rhetoric from Obama and others in America about BP's role in the disaster.

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED CLEANUP

- Rising temperatures are adding to the perils of cleanup efforts on the Gulf oil disaster, and workers' heat-related illnesses are now the primary worry for local doctors and nurses.

- Oil in Gulf marshlands could turn them into open water and impact millions of migratory birds for generations, Tom Moorman, the
senior science official and leader of the oil spill task force for Ducks Unlimited said Friday.

- The flow of oil from the broken pipe in the Gulf of Mexico, before an insertion tube was placed inside and before it was cut on June 3, was estimated to be from 20,000 barrels per day to twice that figure, a federal scientist said Thursday.

- Scientists want BP to allow more accurate flow measurement equipment to go down to the leak site when the company switches out the containment cap. Current estimates are made visually by studying video from the site.

- BP will begin testing a second rig-based system to catch oil this weekend. It would catch an extra 10,000 barrels a day, bringing daily total recovery capacity to 28,000 barrels, said Ken Wells, BP's senior vice president for exploration and production.

- Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, told the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety that investigators are finding a lack of compliance during inspections of refineries.

- The Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, experts said Thursday, highlights flaws in the blowout preventer, which is supposed to shut down an oil and gas well if something goes wrong.

- Federal agencies responsible for monitoring the toll to wildlife reported Thursday that 473 oiled birds have been collected alive; 658 were dead. The report said 52 sea turtles have been collected alive; 279 were dead.

- BP has collected about 73,300 barrels (about 3 million gallons) of oil since it placed a containment cap on its ruptured well, the company said.

- The collected oil was transferred from the drilling ship Discover Enterprise to a second ship, the Massachusetts, BP said. The Massachusetts will transport the oil for discharge at an onshore terminal.

- Federal and local officials complained at a key Senate governmental affairs subcommittee urged the establishment of a clearer command-and-control system to accelerate the decision-making process and the creation of a more definitive chain of accountability.

- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts alongshore currents becoming more westward over the next few days. That should prevent the oil from moving east. But the agency said that coastal regions between Horn Island, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida, may continue to see oil come ashore on beaches. To the west of the Mississippi Delta, oil still floating on the ocean could come ashore between Timbalier Bay and Southwest Pass.

- Images of oil-soaked birds and turtles have prompted a surge in people wanting to volunteer to help in the cleanup and rehabilitation process, said Anna Keene, programs director at the conservation group Alabama Coastal Foundation.

ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE

- Lots of questions have swirled around whether BP would be the only party legally responsible for the oil spill - and many readers had questions wanting to know exactly who owns the spilled oil. Fortune reports on the latest legal ramifications - including that BP won't be the only one legally exposed when this is all over.

- Transocean, the world's largest offshore drilling company, has invoked a 19th-century American law to limit its liability to $26.76 million, a fraction of what the plaintiffs are likely to seek.

- BP announced $25 million grants to Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.

- Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum asked BP on Thursday to deposit $2.5 billion into an interest-earning escrow account so the state can be assured of its availability over the long-term recovery period.

- BP has pledged to speed up its payment of claims to businesses affected by the oil disaster, said Tracy Wareing, a Federal Emergency Management Agency adviser to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

POLITICS

- A Louisiana parish leader who was shown around the world last week alongside President Obama as he visited the Gulf coast now tells CNN "we are being used" by the White House to promote its energy agenda. "I think he has an agenda," LaFource Parish President Charlotte Randolph said in an interview Thursday. "And this is certainly working into his agenda. Right now we are the poster children for alternative energy. He can point to us and say this is why we need to move on to alternative energy."

- President Barack Obama will meet Wednesday with BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg at the White House, a senior White House official told CNN Thursday.

- Responsibility is a key question for families of the 11 oil rig workers who were killed and the 15 others who were injured in the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon. Many of them, who met Thursday with Obama, are suing BP and Transocean, the Swiss-based company that owns the drilling rig.

- The Obama administration won't reconsider its moratorium on deepwater oil drilling "without knowing exactly what happened" to cause the oil disaster, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday.

- Some of the rig victims' families and Gulf politicians have objected to the moratorium.

- Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, blasted BP on Thursday for failing to attend her subcommittee's hearing on oil and gas worker safety.

- House Republican leader John Boehner mocked Congress on Thursday for holding multiple hearings on the disaster before experts have figured out how to stop the undersea gusher. He sarcastically called the packed hearing schedule "Congress at its best."

- Obama will make another visit to the Gulf Coast next week to review efforts to contain and clean up the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

- BP's top official, Tony Hayward, has been asked to appear at a hearing June 17 before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

- Advocacy groups are planning a nationwide vigil this month.

- Experts disagree over whether oil-soaked birds should be cleaned, with one saying only about 1 percent survive.

- Work continued on the effort to drill a relief well 16,000 to 18,000 feet below the seafloor, described as the only surefire way to stop the oil from spewing into the Gulf. As of Thursday, BP said the drill for this relief well has reached 13,978 feet.

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Dee

    People and the media wanted President Obama to show some anger and as soon as he made a comment it was Breaking News on all the channels and now everyone is backing down and said he is causing anti-British anger. This is not true the media and all the pundits, Governor Jindal, the Carvile's have stirred up all this anger and hatred toward BP and the Federal Government especially on the President.

    He is vilified more than any President and everyone is telling him how to do his job as if he is not capable, it is a disgrace the way that he is being treated. He has done a lot of good since he has been in office but is not given the credit.

    He did not need to talk to BP yet he wanted to observe and see just how much they were misleading and this is what he saw and now he is talking to the right people the Prime Minister and Chancelor who can put the fire to BP this is the right channel. because we have a good relationship with the British. The Media and the public needs to step back and let them handle the job.
    overnor Jindal needs to be bringing calm to his people instead of criticizing the government and politicking. Remember, he didn't want the Federal Government intruding in his state. How soon do we forget.

    June 12, 2010 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. Denise

    My finace is from Venice, La. He lost his hometown already to Katrina. Hes asleep and has no idea im writing this, yet i feel it very important info... He feels in his gut he knows how to stop the oil leak. He has a Scientiist mind, Electrician by trade, he seems to be able to fix or build anything. He also feels this may have been done on purpose . Do ya'll know that after Katrina a "Fruit Company" owned by the government bought up alot of land in venice???? Hmmmn... Smells fishiy... He feels they did this on purpose but only meant to completely destroy Venice and sourrounding lower areas. Why? Because thats where the Mississippi River meets up with the Gulf. That way they would have to buy the land and they would be able to make it another Port Fourchon.
    He Strongly Believes he knows how to stop the Oil Leak.. That all they have to do is send a "SMALL" Charge of Explosives down to the end of the pipe where the earth begins, and in another pipe have mud and/or cement ready to be pumped at high force as soon as you set off the charge. When the charge is set off it would stop the pressure long enough to be able to immediately pump the mud and/or cement. When you set off the charge it would not only stop the pressure of the oil, it would create a small void under the earth for the mud and/or cement. Also, what else would happen is the charge would cause what he calls a "Blow Down Effect:... not only stoping the pressure of the oil for a moment, but also pull the mud and.or cement right under the earth in the void. He has told BP, and wrote the President. The BP man was really impressed with his idea and said in theory it sounds like it would really work. I have tried to get him to write and/or submit his idea... He keeps telling me no... that they dont want to stop it, they want the oil... and our land.... they just didnt mean for it to go this far.... like i said, they only wanted to contaminate lower La where the Mississippi meets the Gulf...
    Also, does anyone feel like i do... that its not a matter IF.... its a matter of Where and When.... Where and When a Hurricane will strike and bring all that oil onto the land and contaminate our Land, our Water, Everything and then we will very possibly have to move away, for good... 40 years ago there was a Oil Spill in up North US ... and 40 years later the oil is Still In The Soil under the Water..
    Just a heads up for you, especially everyone like me who lives in hurricane territory and/or very close to the gulf. Start saving money incase we got to leave and not be able to come home. I'm even very seriously considering getting my valuables together and go put it in a storage facitily up in Central or North Louisiana untill Hurricane season is over Just came up with that idea last night, yeah, i really think im going to do that. If anyone wantsto contact me or speak to my finace about his idea about stopping the oil leak email me at denisefroreich@yahoo.com

    June 12, 2010 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. Joe

    For everyone that is blaming the oil industry/government for the high demands of oil...
    Fossil fuel is essential in everything people own. Remember, before pointing fingers, think first. After all, everyone is responsible in this disaster. Unless you don't eat vegetables, every product that is sold in the world essentially used fossil fuel in some way to produce it. Even crops and running water.

    June 12, 2010 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. joe

    i have been noticing a lot of anger towards bp and i don't really understand why they are the owners of a well that was built by an outsourced company that specializes in drilling and cementing i believe it was halliburton apparently Mr Dick Chaney has ties with this company and he also has deregulated the industry (being vice president you can do that) maybe due to his connections in the oil industry then there is the fact that the well passed inspection (i would think the government would have it inspected and deemed safe and operational) and then the twist Mr. Chaney and Mr. Obama are cousins can you imagine the call between these two when the blowout happened you cant blame family for the problem so lets blame bp and we will call them British Petroleum it doesn't look like an American problem even though it is an American company OK it is a U.K company but the u.s has a very large stake in this company and last is the rig itself is owned and operated by Transocean Ltd on behalf of BP my idea go after bp but go after everyone else make them all split the cost just what Ive heard just what i think

    June 12, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dean Gibbons

    What i would like to know is, Why cant they do a under water weld on the leak, and as soon as it reaches the top of the water, Why cant it be burnt ?

    June 12, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mary

    Thank god Obama was not the president with all the past disasters that this country have gone through, we will not be here today. He is letting the citizens of this country bleed, like Sept 11, Karina, Wars etc. Instead of just cleaning it up by day 2. Please God help us!

    June 14, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
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