BP Returns to Gulf Spill Site

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BP said there is no indication that the well, which was declared dead last September, is leaking. (Photo: Dani Simmonds)
BP said there is no indication that the well, which was declared dead last September, is leaking. (Photo: Dani Simmonds)

BUSINESS

  • Examination launched after oil seen rising to surface of Gulf of Mexico
  • Victims of last year’s BP oil spill paid $5 billion
  • Mining listed as one of most dangerous jobs in 2010

After an American newspaper reported several oil patches rising to the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, the Coast Guard and oil giant BP have returned to the site of last year’s Deepwater Horizon disaster to investigate if petroleum might have been spilled, again.

Atlanta-based Mobile Press-Register reports that “hundreds of small, circular patches of oily sheen dotted the surface within a mile of the wellhead.” The publication also posted photographs of the oil, roughly 50 yards wide and a quarter of a mile long, in the water.

BP is sending a robotic submersible to examine the cemented well but a preliminary search turned up no oil at the surface. BP said in a statement that there is no indication that the well, which was declared dead last September, is leaking.

Working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), the Coast Guard used a plane and a cutter to look for oil.  "We are committed to working with the U.S. Coast Guard and BOEMRE to get to the bottom of this mystery,” BP told the Washington Post. BOEMRE, who would not provide details of the investigation said: “We are aware of reports and are currently coordinating with BP, USCG and NOAA to investigate the sightings.”

Coast Guard Captain Jonathan Burton, commanding officer of the Marine Safety Unit in Morgan City, Louisiana, stated that the suspected oil spill might be the result of a natural seep. Burton believes that another possibility could be a “burp of oil” from the collapsed riser pipe, which crumpled to the floor of the gulf when Deepwater Horizon sank days after the blowout.

Deepwater Horizon Victims Get Paid Out

Four months after last year's explosion caused the biggest maritime oil spill in history, a compensation fund was created. According to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), the fund has paid more than $5 billion to over 204,000 individuals and businesses, mainly in the five-state Gulf region: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

In a report, the GCCF noted that it processed about 1 million claims in its first year. BP is responsible for covering cleanup costs, paying environmental fines, compensating victims and restoring damages.

Earlier this year, it was reported that BP was interested in limiting payouts, filing a document with the GCCF that “current economic data does not suggest that individual and business claimants face a material risk of future loss caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”

The leak, which was capped 87 days after it began, spilled almost 5 million barrels of oil into the gulf and killed 11 workers, making it the largest accidental oil spill into an ocean in history.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics listed mining as one of the most dangerous American jobs in 2010. Fatality rates for mining rose to 19.9 in 2010 from 12.4 in 2009 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

Key Statistics – Global Oil Market Report August 2011 (source: International Energy Agency)

  • Amid growing concerns over government debt and the likely impact on the global economy, marker crude prices have lost $12-$15/barrel since the beginning of August.
  • Global 2011 oil demand is trimmed by 0.1 millions of barrels/day on Q2 2011 data, weaker baseline, high prices and slowing economic growth.
  • Due to oil-fired power needs in Japan, the 2012 outlook is raised by 0.1 millions of barrels/day.
  • Non-OPEC production was up by 0.4 millions of barrels/day in July from June, and world oil supply rose by 0.6 millions of barrels/day to 88.7 millions of barrels/day.
  • Since last month, global refinery crude runs for Q2 2011, have been raised by 0.1 millions of barrels/day, as increasing Russian June throughputs, offset weaker-than-expected Chinese runs.

By Stephanie Lagopoulos for
Based in Toronto, Stephanie Lagopoulos is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, travel and technology. She also works in the advertising industry.

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