NEW ORLEANS – Federal scientists say they have dated coral living near the site of the busted BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico at 2,000 years old.
The U.S. Geological Survey said Wednesday it had determined the age of the black coral in the Gulf for the first time. Scientists had been studying the ancient slow-growing corals before BP's well blew out on April 20, 2010. The corals were found about 21 miles northeast of the BP well living 1,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf.
"They're extremely old and extremely slow-growing," said Nancy Prouty, a USGS scientist. "And there are big questions about their vulnerability and their ability for recovery."
Black corals feed on organic matter sinking to the sea floor and it could take decades, or even centuries, to recover from "a disturbance to these ecosystems," Prouty said.
She said scientists were looking at whether the ancient coral had been damaged by the BP oil spill, but the damage assessment had not been completed.
The location of the black coral is important because computer models and research cruises have mapped much of the deepwater oil moving to the southwest of the BP well, away from the black coral colony. Scientists have found dead coral southwest of the well.
However, Prouty said the surface oil slick was over the black coral colony during the spill.
BP's well leaked more than 200 million gallons of oil after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers.
Black corals, which resemble deep-sea bushes or trees, are found throughout the world and are an important marine habitat for fish and other forms of marine life. They grow very slowly — a human fingernail grows 200 times faster than black coral, USGS said.
Most of the Gulf's bottom is muddy and the coral colonies that pop up every once in a while are vital oases for marine life in the chilly ocean depths.The USGS study was part of a larger federal survey of fragile reef ecosystems.
BP says no impact from oil sheen at Thunder Horse
17 Aug 2011 19:20
Source: reuters // Reuters
HOUSTON, Aug 17 (Reuters) - A 2-by-30-foot (0.7 by 9.144 metre) sheen spotted at BP Plc's
BP spokesman Daren Beaudo declined to comment further on the National Response Center website's report of an oil and water spill Tuesday. The report said the release was stopped and a treatment system adjusted.
"Operations at Thunder Horse are normal," said Beaudo. (Reporting by Bruce Nichols; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
BP gets $4bn from Anadarko for oil spill costs
17 Oct 2011 11:12
Source: Reuters // Reuters
* Andarko will pay BP $4 billion
* Anadarko will not pursue gross negligence allegations vs BP
* BP shares jump 4.3 pct (Updates shares, recasts first paragraph)
By Tom Bergin
LONDON, Oct 17 (Reuters) - BP Plc has accepted a $4 billion payment from partner Anadarko Petroleum towards the Gulf of Mexico oil spill clean-up, far less than it might have won in court, but a deal that could reduce the overall cost of the disaster for the British group.
While BP has given up around $5 billion in potentially recoverable costs, the deal also removes a vocal and potentially damaging opponent from the field, thereby potentially reduced the final bill for the United States' biggest every offshore oil spill by tens of billions of dollars.
The London-based oil company's shares jumped on the news, to trade up 4.8 percent at 1110 GMT, outperforming a 1.2 percent rise in the STOXX Europe 600 Oil and Gas index .
"This is good progress," said one dealer.
BP said on Monday that as part of the deal, Anadarko will no longer pursue its allegations of gross negligence against BP and that the deal excludes possible government fines the parties may have to pay.
As a 25 percent partner in the Macondo well, Anadarko is on the hook for 25 percent of the costs of cleaning up the spill, compensating those affected, and paying government fines.
It could only avoid this responsibility if it proved BP had been grossly negligent -- something which could, potentially, have added around $18 billion to the total amount of fines BP faced.
Fines for leaking oil into U.S waters are levelled at a level of $1,100 per barrel, or $4,300 if gross negligence is proven. The government has said the Macondo well leaked almost 5 million barrels into the sea.
BP has said the total bill for the oil spill, including government fines, for which it has taken charges of $3.5 billion and research grants of $500 million, will be $42 billion.
This suggests Anadarko could have faced a total bill of up to $9.5 billion.
Investors have priced in a final cost to the company from the spill that is far in excess of BP's estimate. Analysts say deals such as the one announced Monday make the worst-case scenario -- a final bill in excess of $70 billion -- look less likely.
"We maintain our view that the ultimate cost to BP could fall ... substantially below the cost inferred by the share price fall since the accident," Richard Griffith, oil analyst at Evolution Securities said.
In May, BP agreed to accept $1.1 billion from the third partner in Macondo, Mitsui & Co., to cover its 10 percent share of cleanup costs.
The company is still suing the companies it hired to help drill the well, Transocean and cement specialist Halliburton, to pay towards the cost of the spill.
Key to forcing Transocean to meet the cleanup bill -- BP has sought the full amount from the drilling contractor -- is convincing a court that Transocean was grossly negligent.
If BP does recoup cash from Transocean or Halliburton, it will pay a portion of this -- up to $1 billion Anadarko under the terms of the deal .
Two lengthy government inquiries have laid the lion's share of the blame for the blowout at BP's door.
The rig blast killed 11 men and caused more than 4 million barrels of oil from the Macondo well to spill into the sea. (Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters and Andrew Callus)
No longer in the deep end
BP's spill woes start to clear, but not disappear
17 October 2011 | By Fiona Maharg-Bravo
BP has closed out one big legal front, but the Macondo saga is still far from over. In the months following the accident, the UK oil major’s partners in the well blamed BP and refused to pay any of the bills. Now Anadarko, with a 25 percent stake in the well, has agreed a $4 billion settlement. The move follows a $1.1 billion BP deal with Mitsui, a 10 percent partner in the well, in May.
The $4 billion settlement is a fraction of the $41 billion that BP estimates the spill will eventually cost. The comparison isn’t quite right, since that number includes BP’s legal bills, voluntary initiatives and estimates of fines, which are excluded from the settlements. BP is also getting less than the $6.1 billion it had billed Anadarko so far. But it is still more than BP received from Mitsui. Had Anadarko paid in the same proportion as the Japanese, BP would only have received about $2.7 billion.
Together, BP now has $5 billion more in cash to pay for the spill. Yet the really critical question still hangs. Was BP grossly negligent under the Clean Water Act? If it was, potential fines could be over $17 billion. That particular legal battle starts next year in a New Orleans court, where all the claims will be decided. It is not clear how long it will last, but is likely drag until 2013 at least.
The fact that Anadarko has dropped these allegations of gross negligence suggests the burden of blame, if it comes to that, will be shared. That, as much as the cash involved, led BP shares upward. Investors may also be betting that BP will extract some cash from two key contractors involved in the well construction and rig equipment – Transocean and Halliburton. So is Anadarko: it has asked for a portion of the claims recovered by BP from third parties.
Some welcome clarity is beginning to emerge from the inevitable legal wrangling that resulted from the Macondo spill. But the troubles, all round, are far from being settled.
P has reached a $4 billion settlement with Anadarko, its 25 percent co-owner of the Gulf of Mexico’s Macondo oil well. The money will be paid in to the $20 billion trust set up by BP to meet claims and damages arising from the accident. Anadarko has agreed to drop allegations of gross negligence against BP.
The oil major’s market capitalisation added around 3.5 billion pounds in morning trading on Oct. 17, or $5.5 billion.
Anadarko will retain the rights to 12.5 percent of claims recovered from third parties above $1.5 billion, up to a total of $1 billion. On Oct. 17 BP said the settlement excluded punitive damages and fines.
As part of the deal BP and Anadarko agreed to cooperate on claims made against them. BP called on contractors in the well, including Transocean and Halliburton, to meet their obligations. BP has estimated the total bill will amount to $41 billion.
US oks BP's return to deepwater drilling in the Gulf
26 Oct 2011 16:43
Source: Reuters // Reuters
* Govt says BP met all regulations, voluntary standards
* BP's permit is for well in its Kaskida field
* BP has said it hopes to have 5 rigs in Gulf this year
(Adds comments from BP, background)
By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) - BP
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement approved the permit after backing BP's exploration plan last week.
An explosion last year on Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and ruptured BP's Macondo well, unleashing millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf.
Since then, BP has gradually worked towards resuming its offshore drilling program, including promising to adhere to self-imposed standards more stringent than government regulations. [ID:nL3E7IF207]
"After several months of hard work developing and implementing our new drilling standards and sharing those standards with industry partners and regulators, we are pleased to have received a permit to drill another appraisal well in the Kaskida Field," the company said in a statement.
The permit approval comes after BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley said on Tuesday that the company has turned the corner after last year's disaster. [ID:nL5E7LP0NQ]
The drilling agency said BP's permit application met all of the rules issued since the Gulf spill, as well as BP's voluntary guidelines.
"This permit was approved only after thorough well design, blowout preventer, and containment capability reviews," said BSEE head Michael Bromwich.
The permit is for a well in BP's Kaskida field in the Gulf of Mexico, a 2006 discovery that could hold up to 3 billion barrels of oil. An early appraisal well in 2009 confirmed oil was present in the field.
The field is in the highly touted Lower Tertiary trend in the Gulf of Mexico, a huge 300-mile (482-km) swath across the basin that is estimated to hold up to 15 billion barrels of oil, the largest oil trend in the U.S. since Alaska's Prudhoe Bay was discovered the late 1960s.
While the company's Gulf drilling program may be moving forward, BP still faces a slew of lawsuits from the spill, as well as the threat of the federal fines for the accident.
BP currently has three drilling rigs in the Gulf doing plugging and abandonment work, but this marks the first new permit the company has received to explore a major oil discovery.
Dudley said on Tuesday the company hopes to have five deepwater drilling rigs in the Gulf by the end of the year.
The company hopes to have seven or eight deepwater rigs by 2012 and expects to return to around the historical level of new well delivery the following year.
Dudley said the company was not planning to do a long-term production test at the Kaskida field just yet.
"What we want to do is look at the structure and see the size of the structure, that will help us assess the reserves resource sites," Dudley said on a call discussing the company's quarterly earnings on Tuesday.
Ed Markey, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, said he thought it was too early to let BP back in the Gulf.
"The fact that BP is getting a permit to drill without yet paying a single cent in fines is a disappointment, and does not serve as an effective lesson of deterrence for oil and gas companies," Markey said in a statement. (Additional reporting by Kristen Hays; Editing by Marguerita Choy)