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Jun 4, 2010

Plucky Louisiana governor takes on White House and wins

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Midway through a news conference to lambaste the Obama administration for dragging its heels on approving a plan to fight a massive oil spill on Wednesday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal chalked up a political victory.

Standing at a podium in Venice, Louisiana, an aide handed Jindal a piece of paper informing him that the White House had approved to a plan requiring BP Plc to spend $350 million to build five barrier islands. The sand islands hopefully will shield the state’s fragile coastline from an onslaught of oil.

May 28, 2010

Rig worker recalls race to trigger emergency system

HOUSTON (Reuters) – A supervisor aboard the doomed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on Friday recounted a failed attempt to activate a fail-safe system that might have prevented BP Plc’s well from unleashing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Christopher Pleasant, subsea supervisor for rig owner Transocean Ltd, told a federal panel in Kenner, Louisiana, he activated the rig’s emergency disconnect system, known as EDS, but the system lacked the hydraulic pressure to operate.

May 27, 2010

BP spill eclipses Exxon Valdez, says government

HOUSTON (Reuters) – The amount of oil spilled by BP Plc’s blown-out Gulf of Mexico well has eclipsed the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, and could be flowing at a rate nearly four times BP’s recent estimates, according to findings of a U.S. government expert panel released on Thursday.

On May 17, there were at least 130,000 barrels of oil on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, and a similar amount had been skimmed off the surface or evaporated, according to a panel of government scientists known as the Flow Rate Technical Group.

May 27, 2010

BP spill eclipses Exxon Valdez, based on US data

HOUSTON, May 27 (Reuters) – The amount of oil spilled by BP
Plc’s <BP.L> blown-out Gulf of Mexico well has eclipsed the
1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, and could be flowing at a rate
nearly four times BP’s recent estimates, according to findings
of a U.S. government expert panel released on Thursday.

On May 17, there were at least 130,000 barrels of oil on
the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, and a similar amount had
been skimmed off the surface or evaporated, according to a
panel of government scientists known as the Flow Rate Technical
Group.

May 27, 2010

BP says 24 hours will tell if oil leak plug works

HOUSTON, May 26 (Reuters) – BP Plc’s chief executive said a
difficult deep-sea operation to plug a gushing oil well was
proceeding as planned on Wednesday and the next 24 hours will
determine the energy giant’s success in stanching the leak deep
on the Gulf of Mexico floor.

BP remained cautious about the outcome of the much
anticipated “top kill” procedure, as did President Barack
Obama, whose credibility stands to suffer if one of the
country’s worst environmental catastrophes does not end soon.

May 27, 2010

BP says tricky deep-sea oil plug plan on track

HOUSTON (Reuters) – BP Plc said an ambitious deep-sea operation to choke off a gushing oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico was proceeding as planned on Wednesday, while President Barack Obama cautioned Americans there was no guarantee it would work.

BP is under intense pressure from Obama to bring a swift end to the five-week-old leak that threatens an environmental catastrophe and a blow to Obama’s crisis-manager image.

May 26, 2010

BP, Transocean workers argued before blast: witness

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Before rig workers aboard a doomed drilling platform performed a procedure that BP Plc says may have been a “fundamental mistake,” there was a “skirmish” between BP and Transocean staff about whether to proceed, the rig’s chief mechanic told federal investigators on Wednesday.

Around 10:53 p.m. EDT on April 20, Swiss-based Transocean Ltd’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded while it was drilling a well a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico under contract for London-based BP Plc. Eleven rig workers are presumed dead.

May 26, 2010

BP gets approval to try to plug oil leak

HOUSTON (Reuters) – BP Plc got government approval to begin a tricky operation to choke off a gushing oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the process was under way.

President Barack Obama said the procedure should greatly reduce or eliminate the flow of crude from the well, but he stressed there was no guarantee it would work.

May 26, 2010

BP begins “top kill” attempt to block leaking well

HOUSTON (Reuters) – BP Plc began a tricky “top kill” process on Wednesday to try to choke off the gushing Gulf of Mexico oil spill, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, after the U.S. Coast Guard said it could go ahead.

“I am going to watch this happening with the top kill,” Salazar told reporters as he left a congressional hearing. Asked whether the process was started, he said: “It’s under way.”

May 26, 2010

BP begins "top kill" attempt to block leaking well

HOUSTON, May 26 (Reuters) – BP Plc began a tricky "top kill" process on Wednesday to try to choke off the gushing Gulf of Mexico oil spill, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, after the U.S. Coast Guard said it could go ahead.

"I am going to watch this happening with the top kill," Salazar told reporters as he left a congressional hearing. Asked whether the process was started, he said: "It’s under way."

The U.S. Coast Guard earlier approved the most ambitious effort to date to cap the well after government scientists said it was safe to proceed, according to a statement by the oil spill response command center.

Salazar said he did not know how long it would take BP workers to plug the well, which threatens an environmental and economic disaster. "It depends on what kind of difficulties they encounter as they move forward with the execution" of the plan, he said.

There was no immediate word from BP confirming it had started the operation, although it said earlier it had been setting up equipment and testing it overnight. It had said it would decide during the day whether to go ahead and said it had a 60-70 percent chance of working.

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TAKE A LOOK on the spill [ID:nSPILL]

BREAKINGVIEWS: [ID:nLDE64P0Q1]

INSIDER TV: link.reuters.com/wuw64k

Graphic: link.reuters.com/neh56k

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BP planned to use undersea robots to inject heavy fluids into the mile- (1.6 km-) deep well and then cement into the seabed well to block oil flow. The complex maneuver has never been attempted at such depths.

The Coast Guard gave the go-ahead after scientists ran a series of diagnostic tests to determine whether the procedure had a chance of success or could potentially make the leak worse.

Wednesday is a critical day both for the London-based energy giant and U.S. President Barack Obama.

BP’s reputation and its heavy presence in the United States is at stake, while Obama faces growing criticism from lawmakers and Gulf coast residents over his handling of the five-week-old spill, an environmental catastrophe that threatens some of the United States’ richest fisheries.

Investors, who have wiped $50 billion off BP’s market value since the start of the spill, were watching closely to see whether the procedure will work, after a series of earlier attempts failed to plug the leak.

BP shares seesawed in London trading, with hopeful investors boosting the share price about 2.6 percent before closing at 1.4 percent.

The announcement that the operation was approved came after London markets had closed.

If the effort ultimately fails, Obama’s government may have no choice but to take central charge of the response to what threatens to become the worst oil spill in U.S. history. It has so far deflected calls for it to take a more direct role and said BP has legal responsibility for fixing the mess. (Additional reporting by Kristin Hays and Chris Baltimore in Houston, Pascal Fletcher in Miami, Sarah Young in London and Susan Heavey and Tom Doggett in Washington; writing by Ross Colvin; editing by Will Dunham and David Storey) (For multimedia coverage, please click here))



    • About Chris

      "Chris has been a journalist for Reuters since 2001, when he joined the Washington DC bureau as a summer intern. As a correspondent in Washington, Chris covered energy policy, reported on Congress, the Supreme Court and federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency. As Houston Bureau Chief, Chris oversees a team of five reporters and covers general news topics like the BP oil spill, hurricanes, NASA, and national politics. In addition, Chris oversees a team of Power and Gas reporters in New York and Houston."
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