BP Getting Close and Getting Shafted

Jim Brown
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BP has removed the capping stack from the Horizon blow out preventer and is preparing to swap the failed BOP with a new BOP.

BP has removed the capping stack that successfully shutdown the flow of oil back on July 15th. The capping stack was removed by the Transocean Enterprise drillship. The failed BOP from the Horizon will be lifted by the Helix Q4000 drilling platform and the Transocean Development Driller II is standing by with a new BOP to lower onto the well. The Transocean Development Driller III is also standing by to restart drilling on the relief well as soon as the new BOP is certified as active and secure.

The DDIII should take 3-5 days to complete the relief well drilling and begin injecting the mud and cement that will close the well permanently.

The Helix Q4000 is the heavy lift platform that will be tasked with removing the BOP and the 3,000 feet of pipe that is believed to be dangling beneath the BOP in the well. If the pipe was accidentally cemented into the well during the initial top kill plugging then the removal of the BOP and pipe could cause damage to the well and begin releasing oil back into the gulf.

The Helix expects to be lifting as much as a million pounds when the lift begins. BP has a camera on the gauge that shows how much the Q4000 is lifting in order to avoid over stressing the Q4000 equipment. BP also has cameras on the Q4000 moon pool where the BOP will be lifted out of the water. Various law enforcement agencies have demanded that the BOP be under live surveillance 24/7 from the time it leaves the ocean floor.

You can see the various operations in progress at this link. BP has 15 streaming video feeds of the operations. Streaming Video Link

BP has already started horse trading over the various programs it has been asked to fund and the various restraints that lawmakers are planning. BP claims it will not have enough money to fund the various programs if it is not allowed to continue drilling in the gulf and have access to future lease sales and government bids.

BP is particularly concerned about a "drilling overhaul" bill passed by the House on July 30th. The bill contains an amendment that would bar any company from receiving permits to drill in deepwater if more than 10 fatalities had occurred at its onshore or offshore facilities. It would also bar permits if the company had been penalized with fines of $10 million or more under the Clean Air or Clean Water Acts within a seven-year period. BP is not mentioned by name but it is the ONLY company that currently meets those qualifications.

The provision was written by George Miller (D) a close ally of Nancy Pelosi. It was specifically written to single out BP for its past transgressions according to Miller's aide.

BP has pledged $20 billion for the relief fund. It has also pledged $500 million for a 10-year research program to study the impact of the spill as well as $100 million to a foundation to support laid off rig workers during the moratorium. Louisiana has requested another $173 million to test, certify and promote gulf seafood. BP already gave $32 million to Florida for marketing and $15 million each to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

BP is warning that kicking them out of the gulf would make them unable to pay for all those programs. BP gets 11% of its global production from the gulf. BP has 89 production wells and has a share in 60 other wells in the gulf. BP estimates it generates $5 to $7 billion in profits each year from the gulf.

They have the assets they can sell to cover the payments but they will be far less agreeable to the various blackmail programs if the U.S. refuses to let them continue to drill new wells in the gulf. We all know that billions of dollars in payments has been nothing more than legal blackmail. They begrudgingly agreed to pay this never ending stream of special deals but once the well is sealed I think BP is going to grow a backbone and start playing hardball with the government. Don't forget we need them just as much as they need us whether we like it or not.

Jim Brown

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