Letter from Thad Allen to Dudley do-no Right

Joe Weisenthal
Business Insider
July 19, 2010

Admiral Allen has sent the following letter, via The Oil Drum, to BP, regarding the discovery of oil seeps away from the well:

Dear Mr. Dudley,

My letter to you on July 16, 2010 extended the Well Integrity Test period contingent upon the completion of seismic surveys, robust monitoring for indications of leakage, and acoustic testing by the NOAA vessel PISCES in the immediate vicinity of the well head. Given the current observations from the test, including the detected seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head, monitoring of the seabed is of paramount importance during the test period. As a continued condition of the test, you are required to provide as a top priority access and coordination for the monitoring systems, which include seismic and sonar surface ships and subsea ROV and acoustic systems. When seeps are detected, you are directed to marshal resources, quickly investigate, and report findings to the government in no more than four hours. I direct you to provide me a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed.

As the National Incident Commander, I must remain abreast of the status of your source control efforts. Now that source control has evolved into a period beyond the expected 48 hour interval of the Well Integrity Test, I am requiring that you provide me a written update within 24 hours of your intentions going forward. I remain concerned that all potential options to eliminate the discharge of oil be pursued with utmost speed until I can be assured that no additional oil will spill from the Macondo Well.

You may use your letter of 9 July as a basis for your update. Specifically, you must provide me your latest containment plan and schedule in the event that the Well Integrity Test is suspended, the status and completion timelines for all containment options currently under development, and details of any other viable source control options including hydraulic control that you are
considering. You should highlight any points at which progress along one option will be impacted by resource trade-offs to achieve progress along another option. Include options for and impacts of continued twice-a day seismic testing versus once a day testing.

As you develop the plans above, note that the primary method of securing the source is the relief well and this effort takes precedence. Therefore, I direct you to provide a detailed plan for the final stages of the relief well that specifically addresses the interaction of this schedule and any other activity that may potentially delay relief well completion.

Have your representative provide results on the monitoring efforts and source control requirements described above during today’s BP and Government Science Team call at 8:00 PM CDT.

Sincerely,

THAD W. ALLEN


Seeps, Leaks and Methane

It takes 90 days to figure all this out, I don’t think so. Its all about the slow leak of pieces of truth to be released to the public. You see what your government thinks of you, how stupid they believe you  to be?

White House reveals “a seep and possible methane were found near the busted oil well”, BP Fails to do Request Monitoring

NEW ORLEANS – “The federal government Monday allowed BP to keep the cap shut tight on its busted Gulf of Mexico oil well for another day despite a seep in the sea floor after the company promised to watch closely for signs of new leaks underground, settling for the moment a rift between BP and the government.

The Obama administration’s point man for the spill, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said early Monday that government scientists had gotten the answers they wanted about how BP is monitoring the seabed around the mile-deep well, which has stopped gushing oil into the water since the experimental cap was closed Thursday.

Late Sunday, Allen said a seep had been detected a distance from the busted oil well and demanded in a sharply worded letter that BP step up monitoring of the ocean floor. Allen didn’t say what was coming from the seep. White House energy adviser Carol Browner told the CBS “Early Show” the seep was found less than two miles from the well site.

The concern all along — since pressure readings on the cap weren’t as high as expected — was a leak elsewhere in the well bore, meaning the cap may have to be reopened to prevent the environmental disaster from becoming even worse and harder to fix. An underground leak could let oil and gas escape uncontrolled through bedrock and mud.

“When seeps are detected, you are directed to marshal resources, quickly investigate, and report findings to the government in no more than four hours. I direct you to provide me a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed,” Allen said in a letter to BP Managing Director Bob Dudley.

When asked about the seep and the monitoring, BP spokesman Mark Salt would only say that “we continue to work very closely with all government scientists on this.”

Early Monday, Allen issued a statement saying there had been an overnight conference call between the federal science team and BP.

“During the conversation, the federal science team got the answers they were seeking and the commitment from BP to meet their monitoring and notification obligations,” Allen said.

He said BP could continue testing the cap, meaning keeping it shut, only if the company continues to meet their obligations to rigorously monitor for any signs that this test could worsen the overall situation.

Both Allen and BP have said they don’t know how long the trial run will continue. It was set to end Sunday afternoon, but the deadline came and went with no official word on what’s next.

Browner said Allen’s extension went until Monday afternoon. She said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that monitoring was crucial to make sure the trapped oil doesn’t break out of its pipe.

“Clearly we want this to end. But we don’t want to enter into a situation where we have uncontrolled leaks all over the Gulf floor,” Browner told ABC.

BP PLC said Monday that the cost of dealing with the oil spill has now reached nearly $4 billion. The company said it has made payments totaling $207 million to settle individual claims for damages from the spill along the southern coast of the United States. To date, almost 116,000 claims have been submitted and more than 67,500 payments have been made, totaling $207 million.

With the newly installed cap keeping oil from BP’s busted well out of the Gulf during a trial run, this weekend offered a chance for the oil company and government to gloat over their shared success — the first real victory in fighting the spill. Instead, the two sides have spent the past two days disagreeing over what to with the undersea machinery holding back the gusher.

The apparent disagreement began to sprout Saturday when Allen said the cap would eventually be hooked up to a mile-long pipe to pump the crude to ships on the surface. But early the next day, BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said the cap should stay clamped shut to keep in the oil until relief wells are finished.

After nearly three months of harsh criticism as it tried repeatedly to stop the leak, BP wants to keep oil from gushing into the Gulf again before the eyes of the world. The government’s plan, however, is to eventually pipe oil to the surface, which would ease pressure on the fragile well but require up to three more days of oil spilling into the Gulf.

Both sides played down the apparent contradiction Sunday. Allen, ultimately the decision-maker, later said the containment plan he described Saturday hadn’t changed, and that he and BP executives were on the same page.

The company very much wants to avoid a repeat of the live underwater video that showed millions of gallons of oil spewing from the blown well for weeks.

“I can see why they’re pushing for keeping the cap on and shut in until the relief well is in place,” said Daniel Keeney, president of a Dallas-based public relations firm.

The government wants to eliminate any chance of making matters worse, while BP is loath to lose the momentum it gained the moment it finally halted the leak, Keeney said.

“They want to project being on the same team, but they have different end results that benefit each,” he said.

Oil would have to be released under Allen’s plan, which would ease concerns that the capped reservoir might force its way out through another route. Those concerns stem from pressure readings in the cap that have been lower than expected.

Scientists still aren’t sure whether the pressure readings mean a leak elsewhere in the well bore, possibly deep down in bedrock, which could make the seabed unstable. Oil would have to be released into the water to relieve pressure and allow crews to hook up the ships, BP and Allen have said.

Engineers are looking to determine whether low pressure readings mean that more oil than expected poured into the Gulf of Mexico since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, killing 11 people and touching off one of America’s worst environment crises.

To plug the busted well, BP is drilling two relief wells, one of them as a backup. The company said work on the first one was far enough along that officials expect to reach the broken well’s casing, or pipes, deep underground by late this month. The subsequent job of jamming the well with mud and cement could take days or a few weeks.

It will take months, or possibly years for the Gulf to recover, though cleanup efforts continued and improvements in the water could be seen in the days since the oil stopped flowing. Somewhere between 94 million and 184 million gallons have spilled into the Gulf, according to government estimates.”

BP Buying Scientists

The only surprise about this is that it is the news. Who else have they bought off, the police, media, government officals- or the government itself? This is just the tip of the iceberg. I guess they will just use the scientists they already own that believe Polar Bears live in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP Buys Up Gulf Scientists for Legal Defense, Roiling Academic Community

By Ben Raines of the Press-Register

“For the last few weeks, BP has been offering signing bonuses and lucrative pay to prominent scientists from public universities around the Gulf Coast to aid its defense against spill litigation.

BP PLC attempted to hire the entire marine sciences department at one Alabama university, according to scientists involved in discussions with the company’s lawyers. The university declined because of confidentiality restrictions that the company sought on any research.

The Press-Register obtained a copy of a contract offered to scientists by BP. It prohibits the scientists from publishing their research, sharing it with other scientists or speaking about the data that they collect for at least the next three years.

“We told them there was no way we would agree to any kind of restrictions on the data we collect. It was pretty clear we wouldn’t be hearing from them again after that,” said Bob Shipp, head of marine sciences at the University of South Alabama. “We didn’t like the perception of the university representing BP in any fashion.”

BP officials declined to answer the newspaper’s questions about the matter. Among the questions: how many scientists and universities have been approached, how many are under contract, how much will they be paid, and why the company imposed confidentiality restrictions on scientific data gathered on its behalf.

Shipp said he can’t prohibit scientists in his department from signing on with BP because, like most universities, the staff is allowed to do outside consultation for up to eight hours a week.

More than one scientist interviewed by the Press-Register described being offered $250 an hour through BP lawyers. At eight hours a week, that amounts to $104,000 a year.

Scientists from Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University and Texas A&M have reportedly accepted, according to academic officials. Scientists who study marine invertebrates, plankton, marsh environments, oceanography, sharks and other topics have been solicited.

The contract makes it clear that BP is seeking to add scientists to the legal team that will fight the Natural Resources Damage Assessment lawsuit that the federal government will bring as a result of the Gulf oil spill.

The government also filed a NRDA suit after the Exxon Valdez spill.

In developing its case, the government will draw on the large amount of scientific research conducted by academic institutions along the Gulf. Many scientists being pursued by BP serve at those institutions.

Robert Wiygul, an Ocean Springs lawyer who specializes in environmental law, said that he sees ethical questions regarding the use of publicly owned laboratories and research vessels to conduct confidential work on behalf of a private company.

Also, university officials who spoke with the newspaper expressed concern about the potential loss of federal research money tied to professors working for BP.

With its payments, BP buys more than the scientists’ services, according to Wiygul. It also buys silence, he said, thanks to confidentiality clauses in the contracts.

“It makes me feel like they were more interested in making sure we couldn’t testify against them than in having us testify for them,” said George Crozier, head of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, who was approached by BP.

Richard Shaw, associate dean of LSU’s School of the Coast and Environment, said that the BP contracts are already hindering the scientific community’s ability to monitor the affects of the Gulf spill.

“The first order of business at the research meetings is to get all the disclosures out. Who has a personal connection to BP? We have to know how to deal with that person,” Shaw said. “People are signing on with BP because the government funding to the universities has been so limited. It’s a sad state of affairs.”

Wiygul, who examined the BP contract for the Press-Register, described it as “exceptionally one-sided.”

“This is not an agreement to do research for BP,” Wiygul said. “This is an agreement to join BP’s legal team. You agree to communicate with BP through their attorneys and to take orders from their attorneys.

“The purpose is to maintain any information or data that goes back and forth as privileged.”

The contract requires scientists to agree to withhold data even in the face of a court order if BP decides to fight such an order. It stipulates that scientists will be paid only for research approved in writing by BP.

The contracts have the added impact of limiting the number of scientists who’re able to with federal agencies. “Let’s say BP hired you because of your work with fish. The contract says you can’t do any work for the government or anyone else that involves your work with BP. Now you are a fish scientist who can’t study fish,” Wiygul said.

A scientist who spoke to the Press-Register on condition of anonymity because he feared harming relationships with colleagues and government officials said he rejected a BP contract offer and was subsequently approached by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with a research grant offer.

He said the first question the federal agency asked was, “‘is there a conflict of interest,’ meaning, ‘are you under contract with BP?'”

Other scientists told the newspaper that colleagues who signed on with BP have since been informed by federal officials that they will lose government funding for ongoing research efforts unrelated to the spill.

NOAA officials did not answer requests for comment. The agency also did not respond to a request for the contracts that it offers scientists receiving federal grants. Several scientists said the NOAA contract was nearly as restrictive as the BP version.

The state of Alaska published a 293-page report on the NRDA process after the Exxon Valdez disaster. A section of the report titled “NRDA Secrecy” discusses anger among scientists who received federal grants over “the non-disclosure form each researcher had signed as a prerequisite to funding.”

“It’s a very strange situation. The science is already suffering,” Shaw said. “The government needs to come through with funding for the universities. They are letting go of the most important group of scientists, the ones who study the Gulf.”

See Article…

Anderson Cooper Drops the “V” Word

But, if it — if it doesn’t work, there could be an underwater volcano of oil, with almost no way of stopping it.” AC 360

I almost fell out of my chair last night when I saw this. After all this time with virtually no talk about the seafloor and officials not even mentioning the existence of a mud log, the integrity of the casing and seafloor is an issue. Three months later, the “spill” is now a volcano. Was it a slip, or has the media finally been given the OK to start gradually leaking bits and pieces of information that illustrates the true gravity of the situation?

Even James Carville, seemingly out there demanding answers, has failed to ask the right questions. The landing page for his website boasts, “The man who has devised the most dramatic political victories of our generation”. That is neither here nor there, just interesting.

When will people be fed up with being feed vital information about their world?

More importantly, what can be done about it?

To answer the first question, I fear never. So complacent are the masses with modern conveniences that they can’t see beyond the end of their collective nose. I’m not so sure they can be blamed, we have all been lulled into a dreamstate where virtual worlds are the new reality and real life is a nuisance to be escaped. Paint colors are now “virtual”, we don’t talk to our loved ones, we text or Facebook them. Something can’t be true unless spewed out on the nightly news – the place where you are least likely to find truth.

The second question is more difficult. Sadly, I don’t think much can be done about it. Alternate news sources and discussion boards are great, and we should support that. But, beyond that I think we just need to be more aware. As I learned in Film School, be an active observer. Think about what you are being told. Don’t believe everything you are told. Remember history and all it’s lessons about government and human nature.

I will give Anderson Cooper a bit of credit, just a little. We can argue all day about the integrity of journalism today, but at least he is reporting nightly form the area. It was actually an anomaly that I saw the beginning of the program last night-I need to have a few news-free hours before bedtime or I’ll never sleep.

Either way, I think things are going to get a bit more interesting…

Are BP and the US Working on an Omega Plan?

Terrence Aym seems to think so.

“In a desperate attempt to stop a huge area of the Gulf ocean floor from possibly rupturing due to subterranean methane gas (leading to a calamity no human has ever seen) BP has ripped a page from science fiction books.

The giant oil company is now quietly preparing to test a small nuclear device in a frenzied rush against time to quell a cascading catastrophe. If successful they will have the capability to detonate a controlled fusion generated pulse.

While the world watches BP’s attempt to contain the oil gusher at the former Deepwater Horizon site, company officials have given the green light on an astounding plan to use what is known as a nuclear EPFCG charge if all else fails.

Sea floor compromised.” Read more…

BP Work in Gulf Stopped – Big Surprise

Once again, details as to what exactly is going on in the Gulf of Mexico are few and far between. After all the talk about the new cap being installed, we are left wondering what the newest problem is. Yesterday morning, it was announced in a press conference that seismic tests of the ocean floor were being conducted to detect any possible anamolies. I’m guessing they found some.

So the public is that distracted that they do no think it is strange these tests havne’t been done, or they are not continually monitoring the seabed? Amazing.

“BP was vague about the reasons for pushing back tests of a new cap meant to trap oil in the well and why it stopped, for up to 48 hours, drilling on a relief well aimed at plugging the gusher for good from underground.

Kent Wells, a senior vice president at the oil giant, said at a morning news briefing that it was the government’s call late Tuesday to re-evaluate plans for testing the new cap over the leak. That plan was put on hold for 24 hours.

With oil still gushing freely into the Gulf, Wells said BP and federal officials will re-evaluate the best path forward after the 24 hours.

Just how damaged is the well casing and ocean floor?

Glad to see I’m no the only one confused, check out The Daily Hurricane’s Post about the Well Integrity Test.

Image of Possible Oil Off SE Florida

This image is from a University of Miami website.

In a follow up to yesterday’s post about the dead fish, I have received additional reports. Last night, I have a report of 26 dead reef fish in Palm Beach. The same source reported about 80 in the same location this morning.