Saturday, July 31, 2010

What a road trip THAT was...

I logged 950 miles in four days this week, with two stops to sign contracts that will keep my people busy until this time next year, the two more stops to make sure the contracts I signed earlier this year are meeting client expectations.

I know some companies are struggling in this economy, but honestly, at our little civil engineering and water resources engineering company, business is looking up. 

One of the beautiful things about being a part time conservative blogger and full time rainmaker is that  I am a walking, talking, real-life example of the conservative message--your hard work and dedication can make great things happen, even in the worst of times.  If you have a product or service that provides value to customers and clients, then all you have to do is show new customers and clients why they should do business with you. 

We are hiring.  We need civil engineers, structural engineers and people with experience in building trades such as concrete, carpentry and roofing.  We're booking more work this year than we did at this time last year, and 2011 looks even better.

Use admin AT Ibleedcrimsonred DOT com, and send me your resume.

We are back at Fort Morgan this weekend, enjoying a brief respite from all the work and enjoying a dip in the oil-free waters of South Alabama.  Y'all come on down.  The water's fine.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

$10 billion tax credit explains why BP hasn't paid into $20 billion fund

Oh, so that's why BP hasn't paid any money into the $20 billion slush fund for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

They weren't waiting for the legal eagles to scour and sign off on the documents.

They weren't waiting to finalize the sale of a few spare assets to Apache.

They were waiting for their income tax refund.

The oil giant said Tuesday that it is incurring a charge of $32.2 billion from the Deepwater Horizon disaster response, and as such, it is claiming a $9.9 billion taxation credit.

Asked in a conference call Tuesday about whether it has discussed the tax credit with President Barack Obama's administration, BP's outgoing chief executive, Tony Hayward said: "We have followed the IRS regulations as they're currently written."
...The Internal Revenue Service said it's not allowed under federal law to discuss individual taxpayer issues.

BP has a management team with one goal, and one goal only: Increase and protect shareholder value. Taking the tax break is just business.

But how does the Obama regime allow the company that spilled 100+ million gallons of oil into the gulf to play them like a hillbilly fiddle?

This means that at least half of the $20 billion slush fund--trotted around like a Trophy after the deal was announced on June 16--will be paid for by the US taxpayers.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Missing Oil! Who's behind this? - Updated with video

Via Hot Air:

NYT: Oil slick on gulf surface disappearing rapidly on its own

It’s not that the oil’s all gone, of course. But a lot of it is. And the rest is … hiding. [gasp!]
Less surface oil means fewer dead animals and, presumably, less of a chance that a hurricane’s going to blow in and paint the coast black. As for the oil below the waves and what it’s doing to marine life, oxygen levels, etc., the feds will have to get back to you on that. [ZOMG] So far, so good, though: The Times notes that two early assessments have found relatively low concentrations of toxic compounds in the deep sea.

It's obviously a conspiracy between BP and Halliburton. Or, the government and NALCO, the company that makes that evil, toxic, racist Corexit 9500 soapy stuff that disperses oil and makes it more accessible to the teeming microbial colonies that have evolved on the 390,590,821,800 oil seeps on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. After all, EPA said the stuff was pretty safe and didn't harm wildlife, so they're obviously hiding something.

The Gulf of Mexico is a unique body of water in the world.  It is virtually closed, exchanging very little water with the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.  It is also extremely warm in the summer months, which is why tropical systems tend to blow up so rapidly once they cross the Tropic of Cancer on their annual treks to the west-northwest.  I mean, it's bathwater warm. Natural substances like the light sweet (low sulphur) crude that spewed from the runaway Macondo well have been part of the ecosystem for millenia, and the ecosystem has evolved natural processes to deal with those substances and keep things in balance. The Deepwater Horizon incident did upset that balance, and things are likely to remain out of balance for a while.  But, not for long.  The well has only been capped for 13 days, and somewhere on the order of 100 million gallons of oil have all but disappeared from sight.

Where'd it go?  Back into the belly of the beast.

Update:  How could I forget the greatest conspiracy theory to evah be concocted about the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Matthew Simmons, "respected" energy market analyst, on MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show. Magic. Flying. Blowout Preventers. Peak Oil... Thanks for the heads up, TJ. And correcting the video link.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Predicting a double-dip recession (or not)

On July 30, the Depart of Commerce will release the first estimate of second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and its components.  One of the components most closely watched by economists (including yours truly) is Investment (I), particularly Residential Investment (RI).

RI consists of private sector investment in new single-family homes and structures, multifamily structures, home improvement, brokerage commissions, and a few other relatively insignificant items.  The chart below shows RI since 1960 and demonstrates why RI is so closely watched.  In six of the last seven recessions, RI led the way by one to two quarters. There is no such animal as the perfect leading indicator of economic downturns, but RI is, historically, one of the best we've got.  Click the image for a larger view in a new window.

Of course, the number literally went cliff-diving in 2008, falling to the lowest levels as a percentage of GDP in the post-WWII era.  It hadn't recovered much through 2009, before turning south in the first quarter of 2010.  Two straight quarters of falling RI wouldn't necessarily spell doom for the economy (see the dip in the early to mid 1990's).  But if history is any indication, another downturn would be very bad news for 2010 incumbents.  The third quarter estimate of GDP (along with the first revision of second quarter GDP and another revision of first quarter GDP) will be released in late October.

Put it this way, bad news later this week portends potentially worse news in three months, just before voters go to the polls on November 2.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Deepwater Horizon Spill: Winners, Losers & Goats

Now that the oil has finally stopped flowing and NOAA spill trajectory maps showing an ever shrinking slick, it's worth spending some time evaluating the players and organizations involved in the events surrounding the country's worst environmental disaster. I'm picking the winners, the losers, and the goats.

Bobby Jindal -- Jindal has seriously polished his credentials as an effective manager throughout this crisis.  He took some early criticism for not fully deploying National Guard troops, but explained that he'd deployed what he thought was needed and as Governor, that was his call since non-federalized National Guard troops are commanded by the state's chief executive.  His message has been consistent from the beginning--the Federal government and BP either need to provide the resources needed by state and local officials to protect their shoreline, or get out of the way.  He's also been a consistent clarion on the damage that the ill-advised drilling moratorium would do to the state, regional and national economy.

Haley Barbour and Bob Riley -- Their states haven't been as hard hit ecologically by the spill, and the economic damage done by the moratorium has less of an impact on Alabama and Mississippi than it does on Louisiana.  But both men have shown themselves to be effective leaders during the crisis.  When the federal government refused to locate the proper booming materials, Governor Riley did it himself.  When given the chance to skewer Barack Obama over the lethargic federal response, Barbour famously quoted Napoleon Bonaparte: "Never interfere with the enemy when he is in the process of destroying himself."  Both men had established credentials in disaster response--Barbour with Katrina and Riley with Ivan and Katrina. Both have shown the benefit of that experience and expertise.

Thad Allen -- I know some people may disagree with this assessment, but overall, Admiral Thad Allen has done an excellent job, given the task, the resources and the political environment he's had to work in.  His (almost) daily briefings are informative.  He always sounds like he knows what he's talking about, regardless of the subject's technical difficulty.  Whether its booming, skimming and beach cleaning activities or complex engineering and physical characteristics of a runaway oil well and malfunctioning mechanical devices, Allen communicates exactly what's going on and why.  That shows a penchant for listening to the people working for him, and making decisions based on the best information he has available.  He has no agenda and since he's already retired, job security is not an issue.

Billy Nungesser -- Perhaps no one at the local level has exemplified the frustration of the little guy better than Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.  If BP was getting in the way, Nungesser gave them a broadside.  When the federal government was getting in the way, Nungesser let them have it.  Nungesser's parish is probably the hardest hit by the one-two punch of the oil spill and the moratorium.  Fishing and oil & gas are the only two industries of significance in his small parish, and both are staggering.  Nonetheless, Nungesser's leadership has earned him the respect and admiration of the whole country.

US Coast Guard -- The US Coast Guard were the heroes of Katrina, flying thousands of missions and rescuing tens of thousands of stranded Louisianians after the storm. With budget cuts and staffing attrition, the Coast Guard was ill equipped to handle the oil spill.  Rescuing people in marine environments requires the precision use of surface and air craft. But marshaling the resources to fight an environmental disaster requires procurement and logistics capability that are best left to organizations like FEMA. They got mired in a bureaucracy that was none of their own making, and their performance showed it. That said, the men and women aboard the cutters, skimmers, fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft have executed their mission to near perfection.  Despite the hundreds of vessels in the Gulf of Mexico and the thousands of aerial missions in the area, no one has been seriously injured in an accident, and no one has complained about performance--once the resources were deployed.  I know some folks will take issue with ranking the USCG as a winner here, but I really can't fault the Coasties for doing their damnedest with the resources they had.  That kind of can-do mentality is always going to be a winner in my book, even if there are some bumps along the way.

Louisiana Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter -- Bipartisanship never looked so good.  While Vitter has been more vocal in his criticism of the response than Landrieu, they have spoken with one voice on the impact of the deepwater drilling moratorium.  Both have rightly denounced it as  job-killing bad policy. Both have also called for expedited sharing of federal revenues from offshore drilling.  Until or unless other coastal states approve drilling in their waters, then there is little reason for the governors and legislators in those states to have any benefit accrue to their citizens from offshore drilling.  If you want to share in the royalties, you have to share in the risk.

Ken Salazar -- What a joke.  It was Ken Salazar's Minerals Management Service that approved the original drill and oil spill response plans in June 2009.  It was his MMS that approved a revised version in January 2010 and it was his MMS responsible for safety inspections aboard the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon rig.  But after the explosion and fire that killed 11 men and began the the slow motion disaster of the spill, Salazar has been a rumblin, bumblin' stumblin' fool.  From keeping his "boot on the throat of BP," to "shoving BP out of the way," he's been a nearly non-stop gaffe machine. In drafting Obama's deepwater drilling moratorium, Salazar changed the supporting documentation to make it appear that a panel of experts had peer reviewed and approved the moratorium, when in fact the panel was opposed to it.  And, in response to the Deepwater Horizon incident, Salazar announced that he was rearranging the nameplates in MMS and creating two three separate agencies, only one of which has been named.  It is not unusual for cabinet secretaries to "move on" after a mid-term election in a new administration.  Salazar may be one of the first to go.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist -- His campaign as an Independent a Turncoat candidate for Senator adrift on a doldrum sea, Crist has tried to make himself relevant in the Gulf Coast region, despite the fact that Florida's beaches have gotten off pretty lightly when compared to the coastal areas of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. He has flip flopped on the issue of drilling in Florida waters, first opposing it, then supporting it, then opposing it again, all dependent upon the political winds of the time.  Florida's disaster response organization is legendary.  FEMA doesn't even handle debris removal or temporary housing after hurricanes in the state, essentially reimbursing the state for its costs.  So even though the damage in Florida has been relatively light, Florida's excellent response mechanisms have placed little demand on the turncoat. This has let Crist shamelessly politicize the spill by calling a special legislative session to place a drilling ban on the state ballot for the November election.  When the session began last week, the legislature's leadership let it last all of 50 minutes before a motion to adjourn was carried without any debate on the ballot initiative. It was a monumental dud.  A fizzle. Crist still trails Marco Rubio in a three way race, and there's every likelihood that he'll end up third once Democrats rally to their eventual candidate.

Janet Napolitano -- Flat-footed and ill-prepared for any disaster, the oil spill caught the former Arizona governor showing that she has no business heading the Department of Homeland Security, the mammoth federal agency that now includes the Coast Guard.  Napolitano made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows on May 2, the day Obama first visited the Gulf, to declare that the federal government had been on the job "since day one."  It was a pathetic, transparent display of incompetency and an administration that simply had no clue what it had on its hands.  She has since played little official role in the response, with Adm Allen apparently having direct access to the Oval Office.

British Petroleum -- A company with a dangerously bad safety record, leasing a drill rig badly in need of maintenance, made decision after decision that ignored engineering discipline and basic safety protocols. From February 2010 until that fateful night of April 20, BP apparently never erred on the side of safety.  The drilling project was behind schedule and costing the company millions each day of delay.  In oil patch parlance, what BP did was called "cutting corners down hole," a practice that almost never turns out well.  Company executives at first refused to acknowledge a spill even existed.  Company spokespeople refused to provide estimates of a spill rate once the Coast Guard determined that crude was flowing.  The company frantically tried silly stopgap procedures, like "top hat," "top kill" and "junk shot," none of which did anything except falsely raise the hopes of the Gulf of Mexico residents.  The company's liability under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and other statues will likely rise into the hundreds of billions and will be a drag on the company's stock for many years to come.

Tony Hayward -- A well-to-do English gentleman, with the snooty attitude and disregard for the local population to round him out.  While Salazar's slips of the tongue were comedic, Hayward's gaffes were the cause of American fury.  Early during the unfolding crisis, Hayward downplayed the amount of oil relative to the size of the Gulf of Mexico, as if to say, "it's not that bad." In May, as video showed millions of gallons of oil and natural gas spewing into the Gulf, Hayward was quoted as saying "I'd like to have my life back," a statement that enraged those still mourning the loss of 11 men who will never get theirs back.  A few weeks later, with the Gulf still being polluted by his well, Hayward was spotted watching a yacht he owned compete in a sailboat race.  And finally, he appeared in a multi-million ad campaign broadcast across the country, which Americans rejected as a blatant PR shill job.  On July 26, Hayward was quietly canned by BP PLC's board of directors.

Barack Obama -- The Goat in Chief has learned a painful lesson, or so we hope.  You can't campaign your way out of an environmental disaster. Real grownups have to make real decisions, or terrible consequences could occur. The rig exploded and caught fire on April 20.  On April 22, it went down.  Nine days after the accident, the President declared the incident a "spill of national significance" under the OPA of 1990.  Eleven days afterwards, he named his Incident Commander, Admiral Thad Allen, which only then allowed for the procurement and marshaling of spill response resources and assets.  The time wasted between the disaster's genesis and the White House's WTF moment was precious time lost, and it let the worst of the early spill's crude reach Louisiana.  Ensuing snafu's, such as failing to waive the Jones Act and waiting ten weeks to accept foreign assistance revealed an administration with no management acumen whatsoever.  The administration seemed paralyzed, unable to make decisions because frankly, they had no idea what to do.  The image of him squatting on the beach at Grand Isle is perfectly illustrative.

It bears noting that Obama has tallied three vacations since April 20, one to Chicago, one to North Carolina and one to Maine.  He's also managed to tuck in ten rounds of golf in the 90+ days since the incident.  Aloof.  Unattached.  Out of touch.

Rubbing salt into the Gulf Coast's wounds, Obama held his first "hot" press conference in nearly a year on May 27, in which he announced the deepwater drilling moratorium, enraging Gulf Coast residents and raising the ire of even steadfastly supportive Democrats like Mary Landrieu and Charlie Melancon.  His June 16 Oval Office address to the nation--his very first ever--was panned from both the left and the right as a colossal failure.

That speech should likely be the metaphor for the entire White House oil spill response--weak, rambling, ineffective and utterly clueless.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Confederate Yankee: No, Texas Hasn't Been Invaded

Confederate Yankee: No, Texas Hasn't Been Invaded

The Twitterscape was littered with rumors and hysteria yesterday regarding reports of ranches near Laredo, Texas being "invaded" and "taken over" by a violent Mexican drug gang. Further speculation was that the gang alleged to have conducted the operation was Los Zetas, which is allegedly a group of drug cartel thugs who were trained in the U.S. in military combat techniques.

With two phone calls, Confederate Yankee blew the hype apart:

Twitter exploded a while ago about this story, which claims that heavily-armed Los Zetas gunmen of the Gulf Cartel have taken over ranches on the U.S. side of the border.

My curiosity got the better of me, and so I called the Laredo Police Department, and had a delightful chat with the acting watch commander, Sgt. Perez.

Sgt. Perez informed me that I was her seventh caller about this claim since she came on duty this afternoon. She stipulated two things that blows holes in the invasion claim.

1. The location of the alleged invasion is outside of their city-limits jurisdiction, so they would not be involved, and;
2. while they would not be involved in any law enforcement response outside of their jurisdiction, they work closely with the county sheriff's office and would know if such an event is occurring.

She also provided me the number of the Webb County Sheriff's Department. The deputy that answered the phone there was less amused, having also dealt with this rumor multiple times in a short amount of time. She also told me that there was no invasion and no law enforcement siege, and that deputies were continuing normal operations.

Don't believe the hype.

Indeed. In early Spring of this year, another rumor was rampant on conspiracy nut sites and blogs, this one purporting to expose the imminent deployment of a special army unit in advance of the November elections. I did the same thing CY did--I called people and asked about it, and with two phone calls the "special army unit" story went from scary scenario to laughable hoax.

If you call yourself a conservative, please disown the idiots spreading conspiracy crap and unsubstantiated rumors like the Laredo Invasion. If you see a blog post or tweet alleging that a secret horror afoot in the U.S. is being covered up by the government or the military or law enforcement or some other vast evil organization, chances are that the story is the figment of a dangerously active imagination. exists for a very good reason.

Update: Even Andrew Breitbart's new site, Big Peace, has been taken in by the hoax.  Sad...

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

The average federal employee only works 32 hours a week

There are no special studies needed.  No investigations required.  It's just simple math--the average federal employee works only about 32 hours a week.

There are 2,080 hours in the average annual work week (52 weeks * 40 hours = 2,080).

Federal employees earn 4 hours of sick leave and, after 15 years of service, get 8 hours of annual leave (vacation) time, per two-week pay period. That's 12 hours per pay period * 26 pay periods = 312 hours per year.

There are 10 federal holidays each year: New Years, Dr. Martin Luther King Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  That's 10 holidays * 8 hours each = 80 hours of holiday time per year.

Presidents, Cabinet Secretaries, Generals and Admirals often grant two to three days of Administrative leave each year. Admin leave is given for special events, like Mardi Gras on the Gulf Coast, change of command ceremonies, local emergencies, weather events, etc.  Let's err on the low side and say two admin days * 8 hours = 16 hours per year.

We have 312 leave hours + 80 holiday hours + 16 admin hours = 408 hours each year.

2,080 - 408 = 1,672 hours worked.

1, 672 hours / 52 weeks = ~32 hours per week, or a three day weekend every week.  Nice, huh?

This doesn't count "junkets" like travel to conferences, training, field trips, etc.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Obama ignores oil spill for five straight radio addresses

For five straight weeks, beginning with the June 26 address and running through the July 24 address given today, Obama has not even mentioned the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that has put 100+ million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, ruining tourism and fishing industries from Lake Charles, Louisiana all the way to Apalachicola, Florida. 

But El Presidente hasn't spoken of it in his weekly "fireside chats" since an off-hand mention in the June 19 address.

The question is, why not?  Doesn't he care?

Here are the links to the last five transcripts of his radio addresses.  I admit that I only briefly scanned them for some mention of the disaster, but I don't see anything.

Am I missing something?

There's really no other commentary necessary from me. If he gave a flying you-know-what to the people of the Gulf Coast and the devastation caused by this event, he'd at least demonstrate its importance by mentioning it in his only direct address to the people of the United States.

He hasn't said a word in more than a month. 'Nuff said.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Joe Biden Drinking Game!

Here, ladies and gentlemen, are the proposed rules for the Joe Biden Drinking Game.  Your comments and suggestions are welcomed.


A person is picked to be the "F-er" at the beginning of the game.  A special hat, preferably one adorned with plugs, must be worn by the "F-er."

Whenever Joe drops the F-Bomb, every body chugs, but the F-er gets to choose a person who has to buy the next round by pointing to them and saying, “stand up, Chuck.  Let’em see ya!”

Whenever Joe laments the passing of a dignitary’s living parent, everybody with a living parent chugs.

Whenever Joe mentions “7-11” or “Dunkin Donuts,” everyone says “big f-in deal!” with a slight Indian accent, and chugs.

Whenever Joe misspells a word, everyone stands up and says: “J-O-B-S is a three letter word!”  Then, every third person must chug.

Whenever Joe says “successful dump!” everyone chugs and a new f-er is chosen.  The new f-er must chug a second drink, then point to someone else and say: “_________ would probably have been a better choice.”

Whenever Joe mentions a site on the Internet, everyone chugs, then turns to the person on the right and says, “do you know the website number?”

Whenever Joe mistakes the name of a dignitary (like a Supreme Court Justice), every one says “give me a f-in’ break!” and chugs.

Whenever Joe says, “look folks,” everyone punches the f-er in the arm and chugs.

Whenever Joe says, “my friend,” everyone says “BARACK AMERICA!” and chugs.

Whenever Joe mentions 9/11, the f-er stands up and says, “a noun, a verb and Amen!”

When Joe  mentions African Americans, the f-er then gets to choose a “mainstream African American,” or MAA.  The MAA then has to say something articulate, or he chugs.

Have fun!

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Should we drill for oil and gas in Antarctica?

First things, first:  Is there any oil there?

It appears that there is oil and gas in Antarctica.  In fact, there's a whole bunch of the stuff down there:

Antarctica is considered to be part of the theoretical super-continent known as Gondwanaland, which separated near the end of the Paleozoic era and consisted of South America, Africa and Australia. And, because it once was completely covered in vegetation, many scientists believe it may hold one of the last supergiant oil fields yet to be discovered. The continental shelf of Antarctica is considered to hold the region's greatest potential for oil exploration projects, and although estimates vary as to the abundance of oil in Antarctica, the Weddell and Ross Sea areas alone are expected to possess 50 billion barrels of oil - an amount roughly equivalent to that of Alaska's estimated reserves. However, Antarctica's extreme conditions make oil field accessibility in many areas economically problematic.

Nevertheless, following the energy crisis of the 1970s, several oil companies looked to Antarctica as a possible solution to future world oil shortages by announcing plans to exploit the continent's resources. The necessary conditions for economically-sound oil production projects were beginning to ripen along with high oil prices and demand, and improved drilling technology. However, Antarctica's extreme conditions make oil field accessibility in many areas economically problematic.

That's 50 billion barrels, as estimated in the 1970's, based on 1970's estimating techniques, which themselves are based in part on 1970's drilling and extraction technology.  Chances are good that there's much, much more extractable oil than that down there.  And, that's just the offshore fields.  No one really knows what the landside geology is really like.  There might be many times more oil, gas and coal beneath the one-lush landscape.

Unfortunately, all that black gold is off limits.  For now.  The developed world accepted the 1991 Madrid Protocol, a treaty that went into effect in 1998 and which bans exploration for oil, gas and other minerals in Antarctica until 2048. That's only 32 years from now, which is about the time for an infant born today to have reached the educational and work experience necessary to be the Master Driller on the first Antarctic exploratory well. 

China and Russia were both signatories to the Madrid Protocol, but who really thinks those two countries are going to wait until oh, 2044 to begin staking out parts of the continent for oil and gas exploration?  

Guess what, sports fans.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Warnings go up along the Gulf Coast

Watches and warnings are going up along the Gulf Coast with the 11:00 am CDT advisory.  Everything from Barataria Bay to Ft. Walton Beach are in the cone of despair.  Looks like a fun weekend...

New model guidance continues to cluster and be consistent in forecasting landfall at the mouth of the Mississippi sometime Sunday.  This puts the nasty northwest quadrant of the system along the Mississippi, Alabama and NW Florida coasts.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bonnie aiming right for da slick!

Here's the latest on what has become Tropical Storm Bonnie. Bonnie was upgraded at 11:00 EDT tonight. Click on the image for a larger view.

All of the model guidance has the system moving through the Gulf fairly rapidly, reaching the area of the Macondo well sometime late Saturday night. Accordingly, Admiral Allen has ordered the site evacuated, with the vessels operating the ROV's the last to leave.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Frank-Dodd Act puts US oil companies at a disadvantage

Another fine example of  "we need to pass it to see what's in it."

Frank-Dodd was supposed to be a reform of the financial services industry.  You know, and do stuff like protect consumers from predatory lending and all that other liberal pap.  But hiding rotten little easter eggs in legislation has been the hallmark of the 111th Congress.

The bill signed into law yesterday by Obama amends the Exchange Act so that the SEC now requires publicly traded firms listed on US exchanges to disclose any information on payments made to foreign or the US federal government for the commercial development of oil, gas or mineral resources.

This story appears in Rig Zone
Since SEC-listed companies are mostly American companies and only a few foreign companies, it would put U.S.-based firms at a competitive disadvantage, said API spokesperson Misty McGowen.

"It would not capture payments being made by national oil companies from other countries, and the level of detail required to be reported would allow competitors access to proprietary information when bidding, which they could use to their advantage in contract negotiations," said API spokesperson Misty McGowen.

API does support transparency in disclosure of payments, "but we don't think this level of disclosure is the right way to do things." McGowen said API supports and participates in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a multi-lateral, international initiative to promote transparency in oil and gas payments.

The intention, echoed through Senator Lugar's Energy Security through Transparency Act (SB 1700) is designed to reduce international corruption in making multi-billion dollar oil, gas and minerals exploration deals. That's a noble idea, but it has little support from the international community, especially among countries (like China) who desperately need to exploit the energy resources of impoverished nations (like Cuba) and have no problem shelling out major coin to corrupt authoritarians. It's a problem, but it's a problem that's been around since the rise of the merchant class.

But to have the US go it alone is sheer stupidity. This places companies like Texaco, Chevron, and Diamond Offshore at a significant competitive disadvantage. Detailed knowledge of transactions between oil companies and those they negotiate leases with would allow competitors to discover or deduce proprietary information, and use it against them. And, some of the competitors are nationalized oil companies, like Mexico's nearly broke Pemex, Brazil's PetroBras and others around the globe.

Isn't a deepwater drilling moratorium and a nearly permanent ban on shallow water drilling anywhere but the Gulf of Mexico enough? Does this cabal want to harm the energy sector, or just kill it outright, negating the need for Cap and Tax?

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Trouble in the Tropics--Update

Here's the current position of the low pressure system in the Caribbean, along with plots of the latest long range forecasts.  The model guidance is tightly clustered (except for two outliers). The guidance suggests that the system will pass through Straits of Florida and enter the Gulf over the weekend.  There is a strong likelihood that it could develop into a Hurricane before reaching the central Gulf Coast.

This will almost certainly result in an evacuation of the surface fleet at the Deepwater Horizon site, with orders likely coming today.

Clicking the image displays a larger view.

UPDATE: The National Hurricane Center is initiating coverage of the system as a Tropical Depression, with watches and warnings going up at 11:00 am EDT. New model outputs won't be available until later this afternoon.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Be The One

Be The One.

Please note that this is the .com  "Restore the Gulf" site, not the .gov propaganda site set up by the regime to cover for its pathetic response and political exploitation of this disaster.

Go visit the site, go sign the petition.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

But Corexit 9500 is still racist!!!

Uh oh.  Another huge setback for the doom-and-gloom crowd.  That nasty, evil and probably racist Corexit 9500 was among eight petroleum dispersants examined in a peer-reviewed labratory experiment by the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Richard S. Judson, Matthew T. Martin, David M. Reif, Keith A. Houck, Thomas B. Knudsen, Daniel M. Rotroff, Menghang Xia, Srilatha Sakamuru, Ruili Huang, Paul Shinn, Christopher P. Austin, Robert J. Kavlock and David J. Dix.
National Center for Computational Toxicology, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27711, and NIH Chemical Genomics Center, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland 20892


The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has led to the use of >1 M gallons of oil spill dispersants, which are mixtures of surfactants and solvents. Because of this large scale use there is a critical need to understand the potential for toxicity of the currently used dispersant and potential alternatives, especially given the limited toxicity testing information that is available. In particular, some dispersants contain nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), which can degrade to nonylphenol (NP), a known endocrine disruptor. Given the urgent need to generate toxicity data, we carried out a series of in vitro high-throughput assays on eight commercial dispersants. These assays focused on the estrogen and androgen receptors (ER and AR), but also included a larger battery of assays probing other biological pathways. Cytotoxicity in mammalian cells was also quantified. No activity was seen in any AR assay. Two dispersants showed a weak ER signal in one assay (EC50 of 16 ppm for Nokomis 3-F4 and 25 ppm for ZI-400). NPs and NPEs also had a weak signal in this same ER assay. Note that Corexit 9500, the currently used product, does not contain NPEs and did not show any ER activity. Cytotoxicity values for six of the dispersants were statistically indistinguishable, with median LC50 values 100 ppm. Two dispersants, JD 2000 and SAF-RON GOLD, were significantly less cytotoxic than the others with LC50 values approaching or exceeding 1000 ppm.

Corexit 9500, the predominant dispersant used by BP in attempting to break up the 140 million gallons of oil spilled by the runaway Macondo well, appears to have all of the toxicity and poisonous capacity of your average bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid.

The company that makes the stuff, NALCO, has been thrown into the blender of conspiracy theories surrounding this disaster.  Other ingredients in the conspiracy mix are Halliburton, George Soros, Brazilian Petrobras, the North Korean submarine Navy and giant, asphalt-eating monsters living on the floor of the Gulf.

Have faith, conspiracists.  I'm sure you'll concoct some other evil plot to reduce world population and bring forth the New World Order of the Bilderberger Rothschild clan. Or, maybe that Corexit is racist!

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

JournoList, and the "Daily Bleeder"

Just after midnight today, The Daily Caller broke another story with the payload equivalent of a tactical nuke, this time exposing the JournoListers' plot to take down Fox News.  Since that story broke, they've also released a quick scan of  JournoListers' posts and tonight's headline focuses on how the group erupted at the news of Barack Obama's election anointment as President of the United States. 

This is, at least for me, the political equivalent of Must See TV.  Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller somehow cajoled the entire JournoList archive from an unnamed member of the now-defunct ListServ.  That cabal of leftist members of the [gag] "mainstream media" is a bunch of self-appointed elites, and I suspect that for a very, very long time, they used a very, very big chunk of bandwidth attempting to impress one another with their contempt for Main Street and the center-right majority of the American people.  Mind you however, that every last one of the leftist elite carries a deep-hearted hatred for Fox News and the talk radio stars that grow in influence despite all of their assaults. 

The Circle Jerk Society that was once the JournoList wrote often, wrote verbosely, and wrote vitriolically about you, me, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, ad infinitum.  And Daily Caller now has every last juicy post.  The site should call itself "Daily Bleeder," at least while it slowly and tortuously releases the gory details.

"OH, !@#$%...  I really wrote that?  And now EVERYBODY knows!!!"

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Crist shamelessly politicizing oil spill disaster

From the Associated Press, running in today's New Orleans Times-Picayune:

As Floridians see their white sand beaches getting fouled by the Gulf oil spill, many are angry at their Gulf Coast neighbors.

"They don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to crying about the oil," said Gregg Hall, a 48-year-old Pensacola Beach resident who walks the shore daily looking for signs of the spill's impact. "They contributed to it."

"They?" I wonder what kind of car Mr. Hall drives. But anyway...

I'm sure he's having to look pretty hard for signs of the spill's impact, because the Florida Panhandle hasn't seen any oil on its beaches in weeks. In fact, Florida has gotten off quite lightly compared to places like Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Dauphin Island in Alabama and Grand Isle in Louisiana. The 75-mile coastline of Mississippi has also seen some heavy oiling, too. 

Florida's beaches have been so lightly affected that on July 12, Michelle Obama came down to Panama City Beach and declared the panhandle "oil free."

USAToday: Cedar Key is Oil Free (500 miles away)

So why is the Associated Press trying to color Florida's beaches oil brown?

"I love Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana, but it's Florida first for me," said Gov. Charlie Crist, who has ordered a special legislative session to consider a constitutional amendment that would let voters decide whether to permanently ban offshore drilling in state waters. "Here is the single loudest wake-up call ever as to why we've done that in Florida: Because it is not risk free."


Charlie Crist is trying to get himself elected Senator, running as an independent a Turncoat candidate, and finds himself trailing popular, young, energetic conservative Marco Rubio in the polls.  But Crist likes Obama, you see.  And so does the Associated Press (I wonder how many AP "correspondents" were members of JournoList).  So to drum up support for his ballot initiative, and help him with a little boost in the polls, we need a bit of a crisis.  Like angry Floridians complaining about oil that isn't there.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.


The Daily Caller beat Andrew Breitbart to the now-infamous Journolist archive, and Tucker Carlson's first broadside is a blockbuster expose.  Click the image for the story.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

BP and the government threaten academic independence

The Mobile Press-Register has a thought-provoking editorial in the Tuesday, July 20, 2010 edition, in which it raises the important issue of maintaining academic independence--and by extension, the integrity of science.

We can't clean the Gulf of Mexico effectively unless we study it. And we can't study it effectively if BP hoards the science.

That's what it appears the company is trying to do by recruiting prominent scientists along the coast, offering them signing bonuses and lucrative pay in return for what amounts to silence on the data they collect.
As various scientists are snapped up -- including some already at Southern Miss, Louisiana State University and Texas A&M -- fewer of them will be able to work with federal agencies on anything in their field without a conflict of interest. USA's Bob Shipp deserves credit for rebuffing BP's offer. "There was no way we would agree to any kind of restrictions on the data we collect," he said.

If enough of the region's prominent scientists are muzzled, then so is the science. Now it's up to BP to explain how that's in the best interest of the Gulf of Mexico.

Yes, Dr. Bob does deserve credit for turning the oil giant away.  But the Press-Register editorial neglects an important point:  Bob Shipp chairs the National Marine Fisheries Gulf Management Council. NMFS is a NOAA agency, and hands out millions in grants to researchers each year.  The University of South Alabama gets its share of those, as do the other research institutions along the Gulf Coast. For all intents and purposes, he already has a conflict of interest and would likely have been proscribed from working for BP by some arcane, deeply buried language in the grant agreement.  He's already heavily involved with federally funded fisheries research, and by all accounts, Dr. Bob is doing stellar work for that group and steadily improving the public's knowledge of the gulf fisheries that support the livelihoods and recreational opportunities of millions of people living on the Gulf Coast.  He's a pillar of the Gulf Coast's scientific community and his integrity is beyond reproach.

The Press-Register's editorial comes in the wake of Ben Raines' investigative story that uncovered BP's efforts to corral scientists in advance of the coming legal war.  That decades long fight will be between the government and the oil company responsible for the Deepwater Horizon explosion, fire, death of 11 men and the ensuing multi-million barrel spill from the Macondo well the rig was in the process of capping on the night of April 20. It will determine liability and billions of dollars are at stake.

Buried in Raines' story were these interesting paragraphs:

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 pretty clear that the government is playing hardball, too. In fact, it looks like the government is well-practiced in the tactic, forcing scientists to sign non-disclosure agreements that--I'm willing to bet--look an awful lot like the ones BP was asking Gulf scientists to sign last week.

I find it disappointing that the Press-Register's editorial board decided not to address the government's attempts to do virtually the same thing as BP. 

BP's attempts to buy and silence scientists should be dragged out into the light of day, where sunshine can properly disinfect the slime and maintain public trust in the scientific analyses, data and conclusions the scientists will ultimately produce in the wake of this disaster. But that coin needs to be flipped, so that the government's own attempts to control the research can be properly scrutinized and disinfected.

If you think the government is going to do any better at ensuring the integrity and trustworthiness of post-Macondo research, look back not only to the NRDA Secrecy disaster of Valdez, but look also at the so-called "ClimateGate Scandal," where at least one prominent climate scientist was all but bribed by the government.  Climate scientists who support the government's position on climate change get funded.  Climate scientists who question or doubt the government's position seek funding from...  other sources.

At risk is the very integrity of science itself.  If people are unwilling to trust the research because those paying for it have an agenda, then the honesty of the debate is in question as well as the integrity of the data, the conclusions and the analytical methods.  Wrong decisions can get made, with results even more drastic than the problem they're attempting to solve. The dark cloud of  "conflict of interest" needs to be removed.  Science needs to be funded without respect to agenda, so that the public interest is served, not ideological agendas, policy goals or to wrongfully avoid liability.  If government or the private sector wish to fund scientific research, so be it.  But remove the non-disclosure agreements and fund the public university research so that the public interest is served.

I should also note that private sector funding of scientific research is not necessarily a bad thing.  Without it, we wouldn't have Intel, Apple, AT&T or the myriad of other technology-for-profit marvels.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Monday, July 19, 2010

You can give her this, or you can give her that

I can't stand rap music, but this video cracks me up.

Hamsterdam? LOLZ

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Day 5: No evacuations planned...

It's Day 5 of a successful "well integrity test," which is governmentese for "the damned hole is still plugged."  Over the weekend, BP and the government were apparently at odds over the fate of the new capping and containment system.  The well has remained shut since Thursday afternoon.  BP, for obvious reasons, wants the well to remain shut in.  The government, for unbeknownst reasons, thinks that returning to containment and transfer to topside processing vessels should remain a viable and quick option.

Meanwhile, the doom-and-gloom crowd are in a near state of tizzy over the discovery of a hydrocarbon seep several kilometers away from the Macondo well.  Matt Simmons, an energy investor with a known short position in BP, has been telling anyone who will listen (from Dylan Ratigan to Kingworld productions) that the end of the world is upon is and that everyone should evacuate the Gulf Coast immediately to avoid impending doom.

The folks at blog don't seem to be worried about his wild-headed theories, so I think I'll stay put.

The Deepwater Horizon Incident Timeline, which is absolutely the most popular page on this blog and as far as I can tell the only document of its kind on the web (so far), looks like it will extend a few more weeks.  The near certain success of the Development Driller Relief well is only meters away from intersecting Macondo, but the last few meters are critical and there's a lot of stop-and-go drilling left.  BP hopes to have the Macondo well intersected and bottom kill operations (hopefully) complete later this month.  But the cleanup will continue for months, if not years.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's Day 4: Who makes the call to end the test?

Caught two nice flounder in Mobile Bay yesterday, and both were promptly fileted, seasoned with fresh ground pepper and lemon juice, and grilled to summertime seafood perfection.  Sides were dirty rice and sauted zucchini from the vines that the damned squash vine borers hadn't found yet.  Awesomely awesome.

It's Day 4, and from BP's morning technical update, it looks like the cap is going to stay closed indefinitely.  After all, who wants to be the guy that says, "unplug the damned hole?"

There are probably some legal implications associated with opening the cap and letting oil flow into the Gulf of Mexico again.  BP has, for all intents and purposes, stopped the leak.  If the government commands them to restart those awful images of billowing crude, then it's probably the government's leak from that point forward, not BP's.  There may not be much of a legal argument there, but there's a damned good political and public relations one.

BP Exec speaking to media: "We had it stopped. They were the ones who said we had to open it."

Again, I wouldn't want to be the man who says, "unplug the damned hole."

BP's army of ROV's continue to monitor the wellhead, new capping stack and the seafloor.  The doom and panic crowd have been wringing their hands and worrying their followers with dire predictions of a massive eruption of hydrocarbons from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

Hasn't happened, and it probably ain't gonna.

I'm looking forward to blogging about stuff other than that damned hole and the pathetic effort to plug the damned thing.  Good engineering discipline has, seemingly, finally won the day.

Today I'm taking the kids swimming in the Bay, just east of Navy Cove.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 3, still holding, and powerful new blog feature

Entering Day 3 of the capping stack test, with encouraging results so far.  While pressures have been lower than expected, they've also been holding steady or increasing slightly.  This is the clearest possible sign of the integrity of a closed, engineered systems containing fluids (like oil, for example).

I hope it's a slow news day.

Meanwhile, over on the right side panel, check out the new blog search feature.  This is a pretty powerful Google search tool that searches not only the I Bleed Crimson Red Blog, but every site linked in any of the blog posts and pages.  It also searches every site listed in the Reading Room.  So if you're looking for a story, blog post or news item on a particular subject, type in your keywords and mash the button.

Did I say that I hope it's a slow news day?  The fish are bitin' and I have a hankerin' for some grilled flounder.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Collateral Damage: A BP employee opens up

Over at The Oil Drum blog, which is an energy site populated by all sorts of oil geeks, engineers and scientific types, a BP employee opens up and gives a bit of an inside view.
I can contribute nothing to TOD regarding the efforts to contain and kill this well from a technical standpoint. I am a BP employee at the Houston office and I am not a spokesman for BP in any sense. My responsibilities are entirely in support of BP's domestic onshore operations and I can offer no special insights from the Houston crisis rooms. In fact, those floors in the Houston office are restricted to the BP employees responsible for this operation and the representatives from partner companies, and of course, the Coast Guard and other government employees. Occasionally, the press is permitted some access, but it is a 24/7 operation and there is little time to conduct tours for the merely curious.

Most BP employees are like me. We have no inside information. We receive emails from upper management, but those are promptly leaked to the media, and BP knows it. Our best information comes from Thad Allen's briefings and TOD.

What I can report is that this disaster has had a profound impact on BP internally. What is not really publicly understood is how BP responded to it. From the start it was both enormous and completely inept.

A crisis center in the Houston offices already existed. It's routinely used as tropical systems develop, exists (at least in theory) for disasters such as this. BP spudded a relief well as fast as could possibly be done. All the permits were secured and a rig brought into place even as BP was still assessing the BOP and the fallen riser. That was one of the few things that BP did which couldn't have been done better.

Everything else was some sort of a "throw everything including the kitchen sink" type of response. Money was not the issue. Almost from the start BP recognized the need to keep the spill as small as possible. It also recognized the need for a coastal presence and response. The problem is that BP had no idea how to do any of this. BP managers and executives were deployed to be liaisons to the county and parish governments and to their Coast Guard counterparts. Temporary offices, computers, equipment were all purchased immediately and cost was no object.

The problem is that BP has no navy. It has no mobile cafeterias to feed beach patrols. It had no claims adjusters. Everything offshore is equipment provided by subcontractors. BP simply had no way to be the private equivalent of FEMA, only better. And, it had NO idea how to handle the public relations aspect of this. It assigned that duty to Doug Suttles, who tried to do the best he could, but really couldn't satisfy the public demand for information.

BP continues to shovel money out by the bucketload in Louisiana. Fraud is a huge problem, as is the fact that many making claims have not paid any income tax or even filed a tax return. If BP pays the tax cheaters under the table, it will be engaging in illegal behavior and in further trouble than it is now.

The situation obviously became a public relations disaster early on. BP quickly became the villain as it became political. President Obama could hardly have said "British Petroleum" with more sneer in his voice. Tony Hayward had no clue that he was going to be the scapegoat no matter what. Everything he said and did was used against him in the media. He never had a chance.

Kent Wells has done a spectacular job in his technical updates. He may be the one bright spot in a sea of public relations gaffes.

So what does this mean to the BP employees like me? We have been advised in official communications to keep a low profile for our own safety. It's not really necessary. Except for one Code Pink nonsense, it's been pretty quiet at the BP campus. Whenever one of Obama administration, like Janet Incompetano, wants to visit and make a photo op, a lot of security and media show up and get it in the way, but mostly it is not a big deal except for increased security.

But what does this mean to me and the thousands of other BP employees not directly involved with the well or its cleanup? Nobody cares, including BP.

Most of our managers are deployed to the cleanup. The beach patrols are a pathetic joke. Because of rules that require that the workers only work 20 minutes per hour, and the supposed health risks of feeding them at the beach, most of their team is spent on going to a from the assembly point for lunch or at the start and end of the day. Some of the workers are hookers who are making deals to do something entirely different during the lunch break. The company is spending a fortune on protective gear as if they are looking for plutonium, not some sandy tarballs.

BP employees know all of this. They know their company will be on the hook for years and the prime suspect in any tarball found anywhere in the world. Trial lawyers see a feast and litigation will be endless.

Some of the younger employees were drawn to BP because of its glossy PR rebranding to be "Beyond Petroleum." How disillusioned are those guys now? What kind of a future do they face at BP? A company flush with money, or one that is continuing to settle claims for a decade? How many new hires would chose BP over Chevron if the job offers were the same?

BP is easily the most hated company in America today. Does anyone think Obama will allow a new drilling permit for a BP deepwater well during the rest of his term?

BP is obviously going to sell some of its US properties to Apache very soon. How will that affect current employees? Layoffs?

BP had a huge budget for drilling in the Gulf this year and next. What happens to that, and where do the employees involved in that effort go?

Nobody really has the answer to these questions, but the BP employees are talking about them. Our President is determined to kill the offshore oil and gas industry and he will probably succeed. It's clear he's going to use BP as his personal ATM to spend dollars selectively in the Gulf states he is destroying with his moratorium.

BP may be destroyed as an operator in America. Many people will be happy about that, although it's going to have negative economic ramifications.

There are some extremely qualified and intelligent employees in BP. They have some legitimate concerns about the future of the company. They worry about how secure their retirement is. I suspect the headhunters know this and I think BP is incapable of understanding it. This spill has sucked all the energy out of the Houston office and it might not come back for years.

Most of the people I know in the Houston office are either looking for new jobs or strongly considering it for the first time. A brain drain is inevitable.

I'm not seeking any sympathy for BP's employees. Despite the national economy and the upcoming offshore catastrophe engineered by the Obama moratorium, the job market is strong locally. It's just my opinion that BP is likely to lose 30% or more of its experienced employees within the next few months. It's an aspect of this disaster that hasn't been discussed much, and it's not an insignificant consequence of this oil disaster.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Day 2, Optimism for the Gulf, dismay for the conspiracy nuts

What a pleasant surprise it was to wake up this morning, grab a cup of coffee, sit down to check the live ROV feeds...

And see that the new cap stack was still holding the Macondo well in check.

It looks like good engineering by real engineers may have finally plugged the damned hole. As both BP and government officials noted, the test is not completed yet, and more than likely, flow will resume from the stack within the next few days.  But with the cap's integrity being demonstrated by the minute, the days of uncontrolled flow of crude are done.  All but perhaps a tiny trickle will be transported to the surface, processed and transported to refineries in Louisiana and Mississippi. Barring of course, a catastrophic chain of events that conspiracy nuts like Alex Jones and Matt Simmons have been running wild with.

Unless there's a massive tectonic plate shift causing a cauldron of fire and an Armageddon-ish methane eruption, or something, the end game is near. Maybe now, all those idiotic doom merchants can go find some other New World Order/Bilderberg/Trilateral Commission conspiracy to hawk. I don't care, but please find one that keeps you busy for a while, because I'm tired of the emails.  Maybe the disaster nuts who continually claim that BP and the government is lying; that the cap is really just a great big distraction and the Worst is Yet to ComeTM can just drink a big steaming cup of STFU.  Just go away.  Please don't send me anymore wild-assed YouTube videos or links to kooked out blogs full of black helicopters and stuff.

There's no more to see, here.  So please, go away.

At the Mississippi Canyon 252 prospect, aka Macondo, aka aboard the Deepwater Horizon Mobile Operating Drilling Unit, we saw a tragic accident caused by a failure to follow sound engineering and safety procedures.  We had the best engineering on the planet, along with the best technology, the best suite of lessons learned, and the best safety protocols in the industry be completely ignored by a company with a history of doing just that.  And the government let them do it.  But the fact is, it could have happened anywhere, and it's likely to happen again off the shores of South America, Africa or Southeast Asia.  And the consequences will be an order of magnitude worse than Macondo. Why?  Because banana republics and socialist authoritarian regimes don't have the money, experience or desire to protect life, property or the environment.

This was an accident.  It was not an inside job.  No, the North Koreans submarines didn't slink out of a Cuban port to torpedo the rig.  No, Haliburton did not conspire with BP and Transocean to cripple BP.  No, there really isn't a plan to depopulate the Gulf Coast.  No, it wasn't a plot by Soros and NALCO to kill the gulf with all that evil, nasty COREXIT. And no, there really isn't a deep sea volcano down there that BP and the government are covering up.  Geez Louise, there have been more conspiracy theories cooked up since April 20 than there have been dead pelicans picked up on Grand Isle. If they were half as clever as the nut jobs think they are, they'd have done a much better job of hiding, don't ya think?  After all, the lack of evidence is the surest sign that the conspiracy is working.

One more time for the really stubborn hardheads:  This was an accident, caused by human stupidity and government incompetence. And, as of at noon CDT today, the catastrophe is still over.

Update:  I got so wrapped around my Schadenfreude over the dismayed conspiracists that I forgot to add two important screenshots from testing last night.  These are images captured from the BOA Deep C ROV's, which were stationed on the sea floor.  The first is from BOA 1, on the bottom near the well.  The second is from BOA 2, on the bottom near the well head itself. 

I don't see any methane geysers coming up through fissures in the sea floor, Mr. Simmons.  Do you?  I don't see any oil blowing out from around the uncased wellhead either, Mr. Simmons.  It's probably time to cover your shorts...

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

BP, government begin bidding war for scientists

Now that the endgame approaches for the runaway Macondo well at the Deepwater Horizon site, both BP and the government are lining up big guns in preparation for the legal fight that determines liability and ultimately, what it will mean to the oil giant's bottom line.

The Mobile Press-Register's Ben Raines, who has been doing potentially Pulitzer Prize winning reporting on the spill, has a story in the Friday edition of the paper that describes how BP has been trying to retain the services of prominent scientists in preparing its defense against the coming Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) legal fight.  This assessment will be used to determine BP's ultimate financial liability for the damage caused by the spill.  From the story:

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.
"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."

Naturally, BP declined to answer any questions or be interviewed for Raines' story. Bob Shipp, or "Dr. Bob" as he's known in these parts, is a legend of marine biology. I sat in his classroom in 1983 for Biology 101 and considered myself lucky to have done so. Even then, Dr. Bob's classes were slap full because the man is an outstanding scientist and he teaches extraordinarily well.

From 1986 through 1994, I served on the Executive Board and Board of Directors for the Mobile Jaycees' Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, the largest not-for-profit sanctioned saltwater fishing tournament on the Gulf Coast (this year's event was cancelled, the first time in Rodeo history). Dr. Bob is the official judge of the event, and marine scientists from all over the globe descend on Dauphin Island to conduct research and rub elbows with one of the heaviest hitters in marine biology. Oh, and he also Chairs the National Marine Fisheries' Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. Knowing Dr. Bob like I do, I'm pretty sure that he was BP's first target.

But, don't let Raines' headline fool you. The federal government is playing hardball, too:

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."

Federal funding for research is academia's bread and butter. It allows the University of South Alabama, University of Southern Mississippi, Louisiana State University and countless others the ability to conduct research, educate students in highly specialized fields of marine biology, marine geology and oceanography.

If you don't help BP, you don't get paid. If you don't help the government, your entire program could see its funding slashed. Ultimately, both BP and the government will have their armies of scientists studying the effects of the Deepwater Horizon Incident, but academic independence may be yet another victim of the Oil Spill.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Deepwater Horizon wild well tamed--for now

Updated to add screen shot from Skandi Neptune ROV.

On Day 86, at approximately 2:21pm CDT, all of the valves on BP's runaway Macondo well at the Deepwater Horizon were shut and the choke line engaged. The cap is holding for now, but it will be days before we know for sure if the well is under control for good.

It's been a bumpy, roller coaster of a ride since the April 20 tragedy, with days of horror followed by hope; days of hope followed by heartbreak. So I'm not breaking out the bubbly just yet.

But at least for now, we have some good news and a reason for optimism.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

The Street: Nobel prize winner is calling the shots on the well test

But the Nobel Laureate who's calling the shots ain't Chu.

The "shot caller" on the Deepwater Horizon response was fingered here a week ago, but this is the first mention I've seen in the mainstream media.

Early on Wednesday, BP said a decision to move ahead with the test might be made by midday Wednesday, but a green light from the White House didn't come until after the close of the markets on Wednesday. Pressure tests on the well were expected to begin on Wednesday evening.

The White House commented that it was simply taking every precaution possible, but in the end, the government's oil spill response point man, U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, said that BP could move ahead with the test. It's expected to take up to 48 hours for results of the test to come in.

The oil spill was caused by a tragic failure to follow basic safety protocols and an arrogant failure to follow engineering discipline. Those failures led to a well blowout, explosion, fire, the death of 11 men and an ongoing economic and environmental disaster.

But the response to this disaster is being run by the Imperial Presidency, and the White House appears to be calling all the shots. There's no getting around this, now.  It's his tarball, baby.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Obama ignores near universal opposition to the drilling ban

"Stubborn and ardent clinging to one's opinion is the best proof of stupidity."
Michel de Montaigne

An ABCNews/Washington Post poll released late yesterday showed nearly three-fifths of the residents in the Gulf Coast opposed Barack Obama's newest moratorium on deepwater drilling.

[G]iven their region's reliance on the oil industry , most residents of the affected counties weren't turning their backs on offshore drilling. By 60-38 percent, they opposed the Obama administration's six-month moratorium on drilling (it got far more support nationally); and more, three-quarters, said drilling should resume at its existing level, or be expanded, in the future.

While that is a huge margin, it bears noting that the poll was only conducted among residents of the area most affected by the spill and accordingly, most affected by a moratorium on oil and gas drilling. Is El Presidente listening?

Would he listen to a powerful Senator from his own party? U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, D-LA spoke yesterday during a U.S. Chamber of Commerce jobs summit and said the moratorium on floating rigs would be particularly damaging, because the rigs can be moved anywhere in the world:

The floating rigs are "some of the best rigs in the world, idle at $500,000 a day at a minimum," Landrieu said. "They're not going to stay idle until November 30."

She argued that driving away the rigs would not only have a negative economic impact for the United States, but also a negative environmental impact for the world, since the rigs would be sent to countries with fewer regulations and weaker court systems.

"If there's an accident like the one that happened... the ocean's in worse shape" if it occurs elsewhere, she said.

While she said she wants drilling to continue, Landrieu said she isn't sure about trusting BP.

"I'm going to put BP on notice, but the regular industry, I think, can be trusted," she said.

I disagree with Ms. Landrieu on almost every other issue, and her shamelessness in the Louisiana Purchase debacle during the sausage-making of the healthcare legislation stands out as an example of what's wrong with the American political class.

On this issue however, she is dead right.  The Niger River Delta is being fouled by an oil spill that dwarfs the Deepwater Horizon Incident.  Venezuela routinely seizes drilling rigs owned by private companies, but The Republic of Congo is ruled by a socialist authoritarian regime that makes Hugo Chavez look as tame as Barack Obama.  Guess where some of the Gulf rig fleet will go, if the uncertainty of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico isn't immediately dealt with?

Put BP on a Deepwater Horizon just off the coast of East Africa, and you would have an oil spill disaster of biblical proportions, and there would be absolutely no effective law enforcement or judicial system in place to force the kind of effort underway off the coast of Louisiana.

Is the President listening?

Would he listen to the opinions of his absolutely first-class, sterlingly credentialed Deepwater Horizon Presidential Commission?

It only took two days of testimony for the leaders of the president's oil spill commission to grasp how devastating the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling is for Louisiana's economy, and to call for it to be lifted sooner.

[Republican] William Reilly, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said that Gulf Coast business owners and elected officials who spoke at hearings in New Orleans this week had changed his outlook. "I come to this experience with a much greater sense of the economic dislocation being experienced here than I had three days ago," he said.
Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, the panel's [Democrat] co-chairman, said he was disturbed by a "disconnect between Washington and the Gulf region about the sense of urgency needed."

Louisianians have been disturbed by that disconnect for weeks, and it's a relief that the message is finally getting through to people who might have some influence on the Obama administration, which is clinging to its blanket moratorium.

The only entity to which this regime has paid attention has been the federal courts, and the only reason the regime paid attention to them was because those courts dragged them, kicking and screaming like spoiled brats, into the real-world where real jobs are being lost and real economic damage is being done.

Obama should listen to the people, listen to members of his own caucus and listen to the supposed experts he hand-picked to look into the spill's causes and effects.  But apparently, he's too much of a stubborn, narcissistic ideologue to listen to anyone but himself.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Well integrity tests underway, BP engineering is "inspiring?"

Well integrity testing began at approximately 4:00 pm CDT, and by 5:00 CDT, the biggest part of the oil flow had been choked off. Engineers will slowly close off the well--choke it--in six hour increments, and measure pressure, sonar, seismic and acoustic data. But the photo below doesn't really inspire a lot of confidence in BP's engineering skills. Or, maybe it does, since the "labeling" here has all the complexity of the directions you'd find on a package of Trojans.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.

Redneck engineering has BP, Coast Guard impressed

Remember that fine example of redneck engineering we heard about last week?  Here's an awesomely awesome followup:

Looking like a fleet of bulldozers pushing through the water, the boats fitted with front-end oil skimmers gather oil in absorbent panels. Inventor John Sherman designed the skimmers to scoop and collect oil in tight spots. Tuesday afternoon he demonstrated how they work on the Bon Secour River.

"This is something that can get it up real quick and easy," Sherman said. "It can be deployed on fast boats and you can go to a spill in a matter of minutes."

Gimme some feedback in the comments.