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BP’s Response to Oil Spill Lacking, Officials Say


By Jessica Resnick-Ault, Jim Polson and Katarzyna Klimasinska

May 1 (Bloomberg) — BP Plc should be doing more to protect coastal areas in the Gulf of Mexico from an oil slick formed after a drilling rig explosion, state and federal officials said.

“BP’s current resources are not adequate to meet the three challenges we face,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said. “The three challenges we face are stopping the leak, protecting our coast, preparation for a swift cleanup of our impacted areas.” Jindal, speaking yesterday at a press conference with federal officials in Robert, Louisiana, said he had urged BP to seek additional federal help.

U.S. President Barack Obama plans to visit the U.S. Gulf Coast in the next 48 hours, an administration official said today. Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive officer, is on his way from London to Louisiana to oversee the fight on the oil spill and will stay several days, Toby Odone, a London-based spokesman, said in a phone interview over the phone.

BP has tried to contain the oil within booms, suck it into skimming vessels, disperse it with aerial spray and burn it. This evening, BP will inject chemicals almost 5,000 feet below the surface where remote-operated vehicles have identified three leaks from crumpled pipe, hoping to disperse the pollution before it reaches the surface, Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of exploration and production, said at the press conference.

Largest Response Effort

“We’ve so far mounted the largest response effort ever utilized in the world,” Suttles said. “We’ve utilized every technology available. We’ve applied every resource requested.”

“We’re very frustrated that we haven’t been able to bring the flow of oil to a stop and we haven’t been able to stop the oil from reaching the shore,” Suttles said in an interview after the press conference. “Right now, what the various branches of government are doing is seeing what are the appropriate resources.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has estimated the well is spewing 5,000 barrels of crude oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico. At that rate, the volume of the spill would exceed Alaska’s 1989 Exxon Valdez accident by the third week of June.

More Assets

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano urged BP at the press conference to lend additional assets to the cleanup and supplement efforts already under way. The administration has anticipated a “worst-case scenario” since the Deepwater Horizon rig, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased to BP, sank last week, said Mary Landry, a U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral who is coordinating the federal response with BP.

The German government offered to help the U.S. battle the oil spill, saying it is “very concerned about the size of the catastrophe,” according to an e-mailed statement today.

Federal officials increased their response to the spill, as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he’ll form an Outer Continental Shelf Safety board to recommend safety improvements for offshore drilling.

“We’re going to make sure that any leases going forward have those safeguards,” President Barack Obama said in remarks at the White House yesterday. “Domestic oil production is an important part” of U.S. energy policy, Obama said. “But I’ve always said it must be done responsibly, for the safety of our workers and our environment.”

Rig Inspections

Salazar said the U.S. Minerals Management Service, which oversees drilling activity, has begun inspecting all 30 deepwater drilling rigs and 47 deepwater platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I pressed the CEOs of BP as well as the engineers to work harder and faster and smarter to get the job done,” Salazar said, describing a meeting this week in Houston about the spill response. “I have asked other companies from across the oil and gas industry to bring their global expertise to the situation.”

Louisiana asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to lend the National Guard to the effort. That would put 6,000 soldiers and airmen on active duty for at least 90 days, adding security, medical support, engineers, communications capability and cleanup crews, Jindal said.

The Louisiana Guard is ready to deploy 600 troops upon Defense Department approval and has ordered 1,500 protective suits for the cleanup, he said.

Fisherman Aid Sought

Jindal said he’s asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to declare a commercial fisheries failure in the state, making financial aid available to fishermen and businesses. Louisiana has the largest fishery in the lower 48 states, he said.

“This oil spill will certainly adversely affect the productivity of this ecosystem and fishing families across our state,” he said.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist has also declared a state of emergency for five counties due to potential danger from the spill. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour issued a similar order for the Gulf coast of that state.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York at [email protected]; Jim Polson in New York at [email protected].

Last Updated: May 1, 2010 08:15 EDT

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One Comment

  1. calwillnol1 says:

    I developed a mass disaster response scenario for Pearl Harbor Hawaii in 1985…only 44 years after the attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

    The admirals “didn’t think it could happen again.”

    After Exxon Valdez, no one considered a global response to an oil rig explosion and resultant pipe tear releasing 5,000 gallons of oil each day into a gulf??

    And these CEOs get 10 million dollars a year for something I could have foreseen as a GS-12 civil service worker…and I’m not even an engineer.

    This is an incident that will affect the world and will devastate the Gulf Coast and all who live there. Oil companies and the public rail against alternate energy. Nantucket and Cape Cod residents whine over a wind turbine that can be erected a few miles off their shores. who are these people to decide what is best for our civilization. Clean energy will not “save the planet.” When our civilization is gone by our stupidity in our out-of-control energy use, the earth will recover nicely and return to its natural balance after human beings quit screwing with it.

    A global response team should have been planned starting the day after the Valdez collision and resultant spill that will STILL take thousands of years to reverse. Extensive EPA studies were required for a simple ferry to run between our Hawaiian Islands and we couldn’t run our ferry.
    How can an oil rig pass EPA scrutiny “legally” without a global response plan in place? It’s as if BP and the US are making it up as they go. BP doesn’t have enough ampower and resources or anything close to containing this spill. How did this rig pass scrutiny to be built and function in a safe manner unless a lot of money is lining many peoples’ pockets to bypass serious codes?

    Enough! Enough! I don’t care if we go back to a nation of no oil for energy. Civilizations before us did just fine without personal SUVs, lights, dishwashers, iPods, etc. You all have seen satellite pictures of our world at night. C’est incroyable! We are as lit up as a pinball machine!

    I know this will seem silly but I would really enjoy a moratorium on no use of power from oil for ONE MONTH. By the second day, people will be yelling for alternative energy now! Well oil supplies ARE finite. Let’s make a trial run on what will happen before we do reach that point.

    Everyone knows the quote from Santayana about remembering history…but no one is doing anything about it.
    I and many others have absolutely no respect for oil companies and politicians. Let’s have some chemical engineers and physicists run this world for awhile.

    Shareholders be damned. The saving of civilization is more important than your pathetic dividend check.

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