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from Photographers' Blog:

Spilling oil in Paradise

Ao Prao Beach, Thailand

By Athit Perawongmetha

I first met Piyapong Sopakhon on Coconut Bay on Samet island. He was surrounded by men in white bio-hazard suits and he stuck out because he was a young boy wearing a simple plastic sheet that protected his small body as well as orange dish-washing gloves that were too big for his small hands. It was as though he had opened up a chest of dress-up clothes and was getting ready for fun -- but  matter at hand was not child’s play -- the gloves were covered in a thick goo of the black gobs that were smeared across the beach -- a toxic spread on golden buttered toast.

Piyapong is not a soldier nor is he a marine biologist. He's just a school boy who, on any other day, would have been told off for skipping class. So I asked him: "Why aren't you in school today?" His reply? “I just want to help.”


Born and bred on Samet island, his face was one of ardent determination. On this day, he was a volunteer along with the adults frantically trying to clean up this corner of paradise. So I told him he should find something with which to cover his nose and mouth or he might start to feel dizzy.

News of a crude oil spill in the Gulf of Thailand first broke on the weekend. Most people, fellow photographer colleagues included, were not actively monitoring the spill. We were told by officials that it had not yet reached dry land and so we played a waiting game. By Monday, the spill had spread to Samet island's Coconut Bay, a stretch of beach with white, powdery sand and turquoise water -- the kind of place Thailand would be proud to show in tourist brochures and postcards under any other circumstance.

from Breakingviews:

BP’s path to Macondo settlement just got harder

By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Macondo is back. After March’s $7.8 billion settlement with Gulf Coast fishermen and other private plaintiffs, a deal with the U.S. government over civil and potential criminal liability for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster seemed to be in reach for BP. It probably still is - the two sides are still in talks ahead of a civil trial in January. But sharp rhetoric in new filings by U.S. government lawyers is a reminder that the UK oil major faces a tough path to securing a favourable outcome. The market’s reaction - wiping $5 billion off BP’s market value - looks appropriate.

from Breakingviews:

BP has yet to deliver its positive Macondo legacy

By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Two years after BP’s disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the UK oil major has yet to convince investors it is undergoing the radical corporate change it promised to achieve. There is no sugar-coating the financial, human and environmental toll of Macondo. But the catastrophe prompted a needed bout of soul-searching and some long-overdue restructuring at the company. A new strategy emerged - to shed stodgy, mature assets and create a smaller, higher-returning company focused on its core competence in exploration. That was the right response. Still, BP’s road to renewal is proving a long one.

from The Great Debate:

Brazil’s attack on Chevron is a dangerous error

A truly bizarre international incident has gone largely unnoticed, even though it is one of the most shameless shakedowns of an American company by another country in recent memory. What is happening now in Brazil could easily scare off U.S. companies that may be looking to do business overseas.

What happened was that a small amount of oil seeped from cracks in the ocean floor near an oil well that was operated by Chevron off Brazil’s coast. This oil seep occurred some 200 miles offshore, was successfully stopped in four days, has been fully contained, and caused no harm to the environment, wildlife or human health. The amount of oil that leaked from the cracks in the ocean floor was less than 0.1 percent the size of the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

from Environment Forum:

Seeking answers on oil sands crude corrosion

Environmental groups and the oil industry are battling on a new front in the long-running public relations war over Canada's oil sands. This one concerns claims that crude wrung from the massive deposits is more corrosive to pipelines and hence presents a bigger risk of oil spills.

Green groups say the crude eats away at the inside of pipelines much more quickly than is the case with conventional oil and the industry says it doesn't.

from Tales from the Trail:

White House commission wades into “Deep Water”

OILSPILL-BP/COMMISSIONThe great thing about presidential commissions is that they can soberly consider complicated matters and then offer unvarnished reports on what to do. The tough part is when that information rockets around Washington, as occurred after a White House commission issued its final report on the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The "Deep Water" report, apparently titled in reference to the doomed BP Deepwater Horizon rig, blames the deadly blowout and oil spill on government and industry complacency, and recommends more regulation of offshore drilling and a new independent safety agency. But as my colleague Ayesha Rascoe reports, the commission lacks the authority to establish drilling policies or punish companies.

from Photographers' Blog:

Pictures from a mile deep: Ground Zero of the BP oil leak

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this handout photograph taken on April 21, 2010.  REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Handout

Illustrating a news story with photographs can be much more challenging than simply deploying a talented photographer on site. Sometimes initially identifying where and how the best pictures will be made is a daunting task, let alone getting a photographer there, especially when the subject is spread over thousands of square miles of sea and ground zero is miles offshore and a mile below the surface. No news event in recent memory has been more challenging to cover than the Gulf Coast oil spill due to the nature and dynamics of the story.

Oil is seen on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico as BP tries to stop oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico 55 miles (89 km) south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana May 8, 2010.  REUTERS/Sean Gardner

When it was first determined that the BP well was gushing oil, our coverage efforts for the next several months were focused on oil seen on the surface, oil reaching the hundreds of miles of shoreline, impact on local fishermen and residents and wildlife and clean up efforts.

from Fan Fare:

Ian Somerhalder dishes on season 2 of “The Vampire Diaries”

What a difference a year makes. Just ask “The Vampire Diaries” actor Ian Somerhalder, who spoke with Reuters recently about the issues close to his heart -- the environment and animal welfare, as well as the hit CW show, the fans and what’s in store so far for season 2. Here's more from our chat:


Q: You’ve been back on set for a few weeks now. What’s it like? Thinking back to a year ago when people weren’t sure whether things were going to take off?

from The Great Debate:

Why the coast is key to the survival of New Orleans


The following is a guest post by Mark Davis, a senior research fellow and director of the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy at Tulane Law School. The opinions expressed are his own.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill the importance of the ecosystems surrounding New Orleans, and their vulnerability to mankind’s manipulations and mistakes, has never been clearer. Equally clear is the fact that for New Orleans to transform itself and create a better future, the metropolitan area must enter into a new, wiser relationship with the land and water surrounding it.

from Breakingviews:

In too deep: how BP blew it in the Gulf

The BP crisis is not yet over – but it has already become a case study in how not to handle a corporate calamity. The pieces in this special ebook provide a running commentary on the saga. We have included articles on BP from before the disaster as well as views on key moments in the crisis as it unfolded.

In Too Deep: How BP Blew It in the Gulf of Mexico