Entries in Gulf of Mexico (8)


BP Sets Out to Disprove Negligence Claims in Gulf Spill Civil Trial

U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- Almost two years after the explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, opening statements for the largest environmental lawsuit in history began in court Monday.  

In order to avoid billions of dollars in damages, BP will have to prove that errors that led to the oil spill do not indicate gross negligence. Melanie Driscoll was among the activists gathered outside the court Monday. She believes BP was grossly negligent.

"Putting their bottom line ahead of human life, bird life, our seafood, our economy is unacceptable. It's a price the American people have paid and we want BP to have to pay that price," Driscoll said.
In this first phase of the lawsuit, the court will focus exclusively on the cause of the explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon in April of 2010.  That part of the proceedings could last more than three months in a trial that will last over a year.  

BP already has been found guilty of negligence in a criminal trial; now a judge will set out to determine the civil damages and who'll get how much of the potential $17 billion in fines.  

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Tropical Storm Isaac Could Hike Up Gas Prices

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The giant storm now moving over the Gulf of Mexico could have a direct impact on consumers' wallets -- pushing up the price of gas.

Energy companies are scrambling ahead of Tropical Storm Isaac, evacuating workers from many oil and natural gas platforms, and cutting oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.

As the storm tracks west, it becomes a bigger threat to the energy industry.  The Gulf accounts for more than 20 percent of U.S. oil production and more than 40 percent of refining.  If many plants are closed, it could push up gas prices -- at least for a few weeks.

Global oil prices, meanwhile, are on the rise.  West Texas crude has risen to more than $97 per barrel.  The price was in the low 80s as recently as June.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Flooding Concerns Impact Oil Refineries in Gulf Coast

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) -- The oil industry is watching the Mississippi River flooding closely amid fears that key oil refineries may be disrupted, possibly causing gasoline shortages and price spikes.

About half of the nation's oil refinery capacity is concentrated in the Gulf Coast region, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, said only one refinery, run by Alon USA Energy in Krotz Springs, Louisiana, is at risk for flooding in the next seven days.  And that's only if the Army Corps of Engineers decides to open a spillway from the Mississippi River to the Atchafalaya River.

The Mississippi River is expected to crest, or reach its highest level, in New Orleans on May 24, when the refineries could be at most risk, Lipow said.

A spokesman for Alon, Blake Lewis, said operations at Krotz Springs Refinery are "running normally."

"Refinery personnel are continuing to monitor conditions on the Atchafalaya River and will adjust operations, if needed," Lewis said.

Oil prices have been on a rollercoaster ride, mostly in the up direction for the past year. On Wednesday, crude dropped 5.5 percent to below $100 a barrel after a government report showed stockpiles increased as drivers have cut back on trips.  Still, oil is up almost 30 percent from a year ago and any disruption at the refineries is likely to cause another price spike at the pumps.

Lipow said the likelihood that any of the refineries will be flooded is "rather small."  Even when the river crests, he anticipates that the waters will still be held in the river system.

There are 11 refineries along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, comprising 13 percent of U.S. output.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Spillionaires' Profiting off BP Oil Spill

U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images(ST. BERNARD PARISH, La.) -- The massive BP oil spill that devastated the Gulf Coast has turned out to be an economic boon for local governments and businesses, and even spawned a new word describing those who are profiting off the disaster -- "spillionaires."

Basic goods -- from bottles of water to port-o-johns, boats and lumber -- are all being sold to BP at inflated prices, often 20 times the going rate.

"It's been very good for our business, I'll tell you that," said businessman Ronnie Hyer, whose company sells safety equipment to cleanup crews.

A team of government-contracted biologists are currently renting a modest four-bedroom home at a rate of $30,000 per month, and the petroleum company seems to have no problem footing the bill.

Mike Utsler, chief operating officer for BP's Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, told ABC News the company wasn't focused on price -- it just wants to deliver results in a timely manner.

"Our focus was getting people, getting equipment and meeting the challenges of this historic response," Utsler said.  "No matter what it took at that point in time."

When BP and the government set up an army of 48,000 cleanup workers, businessmen like Hyer sold the company anything from Tyvek suits to kitty litter scoopers, causing his business to increase 1,000 percent.

But Wayne Landry, a councilman in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana thinks that the nearly $18 billion BP spent could have been put to better use.  In fact, he said his parish -- and others -- have "raped" BP.

"[We] wanted a better impact on the money, instead of gouging them on certain costs," he said.

Despite the criticism, local governments are raking in tax revenue, thanks to the cleanup efforts.

St. Bernard Parish saw a 96 percent spike in sales tax receipts.  Nearby Plaquemines Parish experienced a 70 percent increase.

But while there are plenty of "spillionaires" profiting from the cleanup efforts, tens of thousands of claimants are still waiting for their piece of the $20 billion settlement fund. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


BP Holds First Shareholder's Meeting Since Gulf Disaster

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- In London, they're holding the first BP general shareholders' meeting since the disastrous spill in the Gulf of Mexico.    

The meeting has focused on the anger felt by many still affected on the Gulf Coast. Mindful of mood, BP Chairman Carl Henric Svanberg addressed the issue head-on. "Everyone at BP is shocked and saddened that this accident happened."

"We will do all that we can to prevent such an accident from happening again, he promised.

But critics aren't so sure that lessons will be learned.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


BP Wants to Resume Oil Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images(LONDON) -- BP isn’t about to let the biggest accidental oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry stop it from returning to drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The British oil giant, which leased the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded one year ago this month, killing 11 workers, wants to drill ten development wells that were underway in the Gulf at the time of the accident.  These wells are designed to increase or maintain production at BP’s existing oil fields.

U.S. officials from the Bureau of Office Energy, Management Regulation and Enforcement would need to sign off on permits before BP could resume drilling by this summer, at the earliest.  One of the conditions would make it mandatory for BP to allow government overseers 24-hour access to its drilling operations.

Environmentalists, still upset with BP for the way it handled the leak that caused 200 million gallons of crude oil to spill into the Gulf, are leery of the company’s petition and don’t believe that constant monitoring “will adequately mitigate the dangers of deepwater drilling.”

The Obama administration also has to consider that granting BP permission to drill could be a political hot potato heading into an election year.  BP still has to pay billions for clean-up costs in the Gulf, as well as deal with numerous ongoing civil and criminal probes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House to BP: Shell Out More Cash

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is urging the manager of the $20 billion BP claims fund to shell out more money to victims of last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a letter, Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli told claims czar Kenneth Feinberg that he needs to loosen the purse strings, reminding him that his job is not to preserve the money, but to spend it.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


BP Reports Loss of $4.9 Billion in 2010

Photo Courtesy - Jim Watson/AFP/ Getty Images(LONDON) -- BP, the oil company behind the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, reported on Tuesday an annual loss of $4.9 billion in 2010.

The loss includes a total pre-tax charge of $40.9 billion in connection to the oil spill.  BP said it will also resume paying dividends which were suspended after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded back in June of last year.  Shareholders will receive seven cents a share for the fourth quarter of 2010.

"2010 will rightly be remembered for the tragic accident and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and it is clear that as a result BP is a company in transition.  I am determined that we will emerge from this episode as a company that is safer, stronger, more sustainable, more trusted and also more valuable," BP group chief executive Bob Dudley said.

Additionally, BP announced Tuesday plans to sell two of its refineries in the U.S. -- one in Carson, California and another in Texas City, Texas, where 15 people were killed in an explosion in March of 2005.

"2011 will be a year of recovery and consolidation as we implement the changes we have identified to reduce operational risk and meet our commitments arising from the spill.  But it will also be a year in which we have the opportunity to reset the company, adjusting the shape of our business, and focus on growing value for shareholders," Dudley said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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