Home > Gulf of Mexico Oil Rocket > A Timeline of the BP Oil Spill Events from March 28 to August 5, 2010

A Timeline of the BP Oil Spill Events from March 28 to August 5, 2010

Two timelines from two different sources have been posted here, the first from Marketwatch was reordered by me so that you could scroll down to see the earliest events first. At the end of these timelines is the latest news of the oil spill situation in August 2010. But first, an intro “scare” story from March 2010:

New, 22-mile oil plume discovered in Gulf
Oil could create stew of toxic water, destroying sea life
3/28/2010/10:13 ET
by Matthew Brown and Jason Dearen of the Associated Press

This image made from video released by British Petroleum (BP PLC) early Friday morning, May 28, 2010 shows drilling mud escaping from the broken pipe on the gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Marine scientists have discovered a massive new plume of what they believe to be oil deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico, stretching 22 miles from the leaking BP wellhead northeast toward an underwater canyon whose currents feed sealife in the waters off Florida.

The discovery by researchers on the University of South Florida College of Marine Science’s Weatherbird II vessel is the second significant undersea plume reported since the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20. The find was announced Thursday.

The cloud was nearing a large underwater canyon whose currents fuel the foodchain in Gulf waters off Florida and could potentially wash the tiny plants and animals that feed larger organisms in a stew of toxic chemicals, another researcher said.

Larry McKinney, executive director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, said the DeSoto Canyon off the Florida Panhandle sends nutrient-rich water from the deep sea up to shallower waters.

McKinney said that in a best-case scenario, oil riding the current out of the canyon would rise close enough to the surface to be broken down by sunlight. But if the plume remains relatively intact, it could sweep down the west coast of Florida as a toxic soup as far as the Keys.

The thick plume was detected just beneath the surface down to about 3,300 feet and is more than 6 miles wide, said David Hollander, associate professor of chemical oceanography at USF.

Hollander said the team detected the thickest amount of hydrocarbons, likely from the oil spewing from the blown out well, at about 1,300 feet in the same spot on two separate days this week.

The discovery was important, he said, because it confirmed that the substance found in the water was not naturally occurring and that the plume was at its highest concentration in deeper waters. The researchers will use further testing to determine whether the hydrocarbons they found are the result of dispersants or the emulsification of oil as it traveled away from the well. – More here

BP’s well cap marks latest phase of accident saga
by Steve Gelsi

NEW YORK — The saga surrounding the worst oil spill in U.S. history on Friday reached its 87th day since the Deepwater Horizon blast on April 20 killed 11 workers and caused a gusher of up to 60,000 barrels a day into the Gulf of Mexico.

BP PLC /quotes/comstock/13*!bp/quotes/nls/bp (BP 41.33, +0.65, +1.60%) has finally managed to stop the leak at least temporarily with a new containment system now undergoing a pressure test, after weeks of failed attempts through a variety of methods. See: BP cap holds, but shares slide.

Faced with billions of dollars in liabilities, fines, and environmental costs, BP’s share price fell to $27 a share for the first time since 1996 during the saga. Before the accident, its shares traded at around $60 a share.

At last check, the scale of the response remains vast, with environmental damage stretching around the Gulf Coast from the source of the spill some 50 miles off the shores of Louisiana in water a mile deep.

Some 45,000 personnel are now responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife and clean up coastlines. Nearly 7,000 vessels involved in the effort include skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup; also dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.

Approximately 581 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline is currently oiled, including 333 miles in Louisiana, 109 miles in Mississippi, 68 miles in Alabama, and 71 miles in Florida; and approximately 83,927 square miles of Gulf of Mexico federal waters remain closed to fishing, as of Thursday.

Using various containment systems, BP managed to collect 827,000 barrels of oil through a containment cap, an insertion tube, and through oil funneled up through choke and kill lines.

Some milestones during the past three months follow:

April 20: The Deepwater Horizon, which has been drilling a Macondo field appraisal well on Mississippi Canyon Block 252, catches fire at 10 p.m. Central time.

April 21: The fire continues to burn. Up to 12 workers are missing.

April 22: Deepwater Horizon sinks. Transocean says the combined team at the rig, “was not able to stem the flow of hydrocarbons prior to the rig sinking.”

April 23: Coast Guard says the oil well near the sunken rig does not appear to be leaking, despite earlier reports. Eleven workers remain missing.

April 24: An oil leak is reported near the sunken rig. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landy says the leak is “very serious.”

April 27: BP reports a first-quarter profit of $6 billion, with $74 billion in revenue.

April 28: Coast Guard says it will try a controlled burn of oil from the leak, estimated at 1,000 barrels a day.

April 29: The size of the spill estimate grows to 5,000 barrels a day.

May 4: BP says it’s drilling a relief well. The process will take three months. BP increases its use of dispersants on the oil.

May 6: Transocean discloses about $1.3 billion in losses tied to the accident, including the loss of Deepwater Horizon.

May 7: An attorney representing a rig worker who survived the explosion says BP and the drilling platform’s owner, Transocean Ltd., started to remove a mud barrier before a final cement plug was installed, according to reports.

May 8: The Coast Guard finds oil off the Chandeleur Islands in Louisiana. BP announces its 100-ton containment dome is clogging with hydrates, a mix of gas and ice forming under the high pressure and low temperature conditions at the well site. The attempt to use the large dome is abandoned.

May 11: BP and rig owner Transocean point fingers at each other during testimony in Congress. Lawmakers start talking about lifting a liability cap on oil spills.

May 12: BP lowers a two-ton “top hat” to attempt to cap the well and capture leaking oil. The device later fails.

May 13: Under pressure from federal officials, BP releases video of oil and gas gushing from its blown-out well.

May 14: BP makes first attempt to end oil gushing from the pipe with the insertion tube. Scientists report they think leak is worse than the official estimate of 5,000 barrels a day.

May 17: Siphon tube successfully installed into riser pipe. The oil leak becomes the subject of a presidential commission similar to panels created to probe the space shuttle Challenger disaster and the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island.

May 19: U.S. Coast Guard says oil nearing the Loop Current, which would take it into the Gulf Stream and up the East Coast.

May 21: BP uses riser insertion tube to suck up 5,000 barrels of oil a day from the spill, but the pipe continues to gush more oil.

May 24: BP’s insertion tube’s effectiveness dwindles. The amount of oil drawn up through the tube falls to 1,120 barrels a day.

May 26: BP begins attempt to “top kill” the well by pumping in drilling mud and other debris.

May 27: The head of the Minerals Management Service, the agency in charge of inspecting offshore oil platforms, quits. A team of government officials revises their estimate of the well’s flow to as much as 25,000 barrels: a million gallons: a day, or five times the previous figures, surpassing the Exxon Valdez as the worst in oil disaster U.S. history.

May 28: President Barack Obama extends a moratorium on new offshore drilling for six months in a decision that affects 33 rigs. A study is underway to evaluate the practice.

May 29: About 25% of the waters in the Gulf of Mexico closed to fishing.

May 31: BP begins another effort to stem the flow of oil after its “top kill” fails.

June 1: BP shares drop 15% in the first trading day after the company said its “top kill” attempt to clog the blowout preventer at the top of its ruptured well didn’t work. The company loses about $17 billion in market value. Shares of other companies affected by the spill also drop sharply including Cameron International /quotes/comstock/13*!cam/quotes/nls/cam (CAM 39.07, -0.42, -1.06%) , the maker of the well’s blowout preventer; Halliburton /quotes/comstock/13*!hal/quotes/nls/hal (HAL 30.92, -0.33, -1.06%) , the company that performed cement work on the well, and Transocean /quotes/comstock/13*!rig/quotes/nls/rig (RIG 57.11, -0.82, -1.42%) , owner of the rig. Anadarko Petroleum /quotes/comstock/13*!apc/quotes/nls/apc (APC 55.68, -1.24, -2.18%), which owned a 25% interest in the well, also falls sharply.

June 3: BP manages to cut the riser pipe in connection with its attempt to cap the leak. Analysts put the price tag of the spill at up to $40 billion, as oil from the rupture at the bottom of the Gulf spreads to Mississippi for the first time.

June 4: BP attaches a containment cap to the riser pipe in the Gulf of Mexico. Tar balls are reported in Pensacola, Fla.

June 15: The U.S. government updates its flow estimates on the spill to 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day. BP manages to capture 18,000 barrels a day from the capping system called the lower marine riser package.

June 16: BP executives emerge from a meeting with President Barack Obama and agree to set up a $20 billion fund for spill victims. BP Chairman BP Carl-Henric Svanberg draws heat for this comment: “We care about the small people.” BP also cuts dividend payments for the year.

June 23: BP formally hands direct responsibility for the spill to Robert Dudley, who becomes president and chief executive officer of the newly-created Gulf Coast Restoration Organization. BP CEO Tony Hayward remains in his job, but steps aside for Dudley on the Gulf of Mexico effort.

June 25: BP shares price falls to $27.02 a share, their lowest point since 1996.

July 5: Oil reported in Lake Pontchartrain.

July 10: Oil flows as robots begin new effort to cap leak.

July 12: BP says it’s spent nearly $3.5 billion on the spill thus far.

July 13: The Department of the Interior issues fresh offshore drilling moratorium after Hornbeck Offshore /quotes/comstock/13*!hos/quotes/nls/hos (HOS 17.47, -0.10, -0.57%) managed to get an earlier version thrown out in federal court; a federal appeals court also ruled in favor of Hornbeck.

July 14: U.S. government OKs key well integrity test of new containment system.

July 15: After months of images of oil billowing from the well via subsea videos viewed on computers and TVs around the world, crude oil stops flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. BP shares jump 8%. Separately, reports persist of an asset sale by BP to Apache Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!apa/quotes/nls/apa (APA 95.95, -1.60, -1.64%) in a deal valued at up to $11 billion. – Source

BP oil spill timeline
by guardian.co.uk (there are links to certain events in this timeline to articles on them)

December 1998

Construction begins on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in Ulsan, South Korea, by Hyundai Heavy Industries Shipyard.

February 2001

The rig is delivered and valued at more than $560m.

20 April 2010

Explosion and fire on the BP-licensed Transocean drilling rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven people are reported missing and approximately 17 injured. A blowout preventer, intended to prevent release of crude oil, failed to activate.

Deepwater Horizon oil rig fire leaves 11 missing

22 April

Deepwater Horizon rig sinks in 5,000ft of water. Reports of a five-mile-long oil slick. Search-and-rescue operations by the US National Response Team begin.

23 April

The US coast guard suspends the search for missing workers, who are all presumed dead. The rig is found upside down about a quarter-mile from the blowout preventer. A homeland security department risk analysis says the incident “poses a negligible risk to regional oil supply markets and will not cause significant national economic impacts”. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says: “I doubt this is the first accident that has happened and I doubt it will be the last.”

Deepwater Horizon clean-up workers fight to prevent disaster

24 April

Oil is found to be leaking from the well. A homeland security report on critical infrastructure says the problem has “no near-term impact to regional or national crude oil or natural gas supplies.”

25 April

US coast guard remote underwater cameras report the well is leaking 1,000 barrels of crude oil per day (bpd). It approves a plan for remote underwater vehicles to activate a blowout preventer and stop the leak.

Underwater robots try to seal well

26 April

BP’s shares fall 2% amid fears that the cost of cleanup and legal claims will hit the London-based company hard. Roughly 15,000 gallons of dispersants and 21,000ft of containment boom are placed at the spill site.

27 April

The US departments of interior and homeland security announce plans for a joint investigation of the explosion and fire.

The coast guard announces it will set fire to the leaking crude to slow the spread of oil in the Gulf.

Oil spill to be set on fire to save US coast

Minerals Management Service (MMS) approves a plan for two relief wells.

The homeland department’s infrastructure and risk analysis centre reports: “Release of crude oil, natural gas and diesel fuel poses a high risk of environmental contamination in the Gulf of Mexico.”

BP reports a rise in profits, due in large part to oil price increases, as shares rise again.

BP profits jump after oil price rise

28 April

The coast guard says the flow of oil is 5,000bpd, five times greater than first estimated, after a third leak is discovered.

Gulf oil spill ‘five times’ larger than estimated

Controlled burns begin on the giant oil slick.

BP’s attempts to repair a hydraulic leak on the blowout preventer valve are unsuccessful.

29 April

President Obama talks about the spill at the White House, his first public comments on the issue. He pledges “every single available resource”, including the US military, to contain the spreading spill, and also says BP is responsible for the cleanup.

Louisiana declares a state of emergency due to the threat to the state’s natural resources, as the oil slick approaches land.

Deepwater Horizon oil slick to hit US coast within hours
Oil spill approaches Gulf coast, threatening economy and environment
BP’s shares plummet as the crisis continues.

30 April

An Obama aide says no drilling will be allowed in new areas until the cause of the Deepwater Horizon accident is established.

US bans new drilling in Gulf of Mexico

The US justice department announces that a team of lawyers is monitoring the spill. Safety inspections of all 30 deepwater drilling rigs and 47 deepwater production platforms are ordered.

BP chairman Tony Hayward says the company will take full responsibility for the spill, paying for all legitimate claims and the cost for the cleanup.

Conservationists warn of impending disaster for wildlife in the area of the spill.

Conservationists warn of ‘true catastrophe’ for wildlife

Interactive graphic: species under threat

1 May

The coast guard announces the leak will affect the Gulf shore.

2 May

US officials close areas affected by the spill to fishing for an initial period of 10 days.

Obama visits the Gulf coast to see cleanup efforts first hand.

Barack Obama flies to Louisiana as BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill spreads

BP starts to drill a relief well alongside the failed well.

An additional 30 vessels and 1,000 responders are deployed to the Gulf coast.

BP’s efforts to contain the leak

4 May

BP executives face Congress in a closed session, as the White House backs a Senate proposal to increase the limit on liability payouts from $75m to $10bn (£6.5bn) for the cost of a spill.

Deepwater Horizon oil spill sparks calls for $10bn levy on BP and drilling ban

5 May

BP successfully attaches a valve to the end of the broken drilling pipe at the Macondo well in a bid to end the flow of oil into the US Gulf. BP says one of the three leaks has been shut off by capping a valve, but that would not reduce the amount of oil gushing out. Officials conduct controlled burns to remove oil from the open water.

BP stems one of three Deepwater Horizon oil leaks, US coast guard says

The White House attempts to limit the political fallout by documenting actions taken since the leak began.

Obama attempts to limit political fallout
In pictures: Deepwater Horizon oil spill closes in on US coastline

6 May

BP confirms the arrival of three huge containment domes designed to collect much of the 5,000bpd leaking into the US Gulf from the Macondo blowout.

Containment dome reaches Gulf oil spill scene

The department of justice asks Transocean to preserve evidence in connection with the explosion and sinking of the rig.

Toxic pink oily seawater washes ashore on the Chandeleur Islands off the Louisiana coast, an important nesting and breeding area for many bird species.

Hayward tells the BBC that the blowout preventer owned by Transocean was at fault for the leak. BP, he said, “will be judged not on the basis of an accident that, you know, frankly was not our accident”.

Analysts put the cost of the spill for BP at £15bn.

BP ‘facing £15bn loss’ over Gulf of Mexico oil spill

7 May

BP engineers use undersea robots to move the containment chamber over the larger of the two remaining leaks on the seabed. This containment method has never before been attempted at such a depth.

Efforts to close valves on a failed blowout preventer with underwater robots are abandoned.

Deepwater team attempts to put 100-tonne box over blown-out oil well
Video recreation of cofferdam method

A fishing ban for federal waters off the Gulf is extended to 17 May.

8 May

BP’s containment dome hits a snag when a buildup of crystallised gas forces engineers to postpone efforts to place the chamber over the oil leak and draw the oil to the surface.

Quick fix dashed as BP tower fails to contain oil

A BP report blames the explosion on a methane bubble.

Blast triggered by methane bubble, report shows

Tar balls suspected to come from the leak wash up along a half-mile stretch of Dauphin Island, Alabama.

9 May

BP says it might try to plug the undersea leak by pumping materials such as shredded tyres and golf balls into the well at high pressure, a method called a “junk shot”.

Plugging the leak

10 May

BP announces plans to place a small containment dome, known as a “top hat”, over the blown-out well to funnel oil to the surface, as Hayward holds a press conference.

BP press conference live

11 May

At a hearing before the Senate committee on energy and natural resources, representatives of the three oil companies involved in the Deepwater drilling blame each other for the accident. Halliburton, which cemented BP’s well, claims to have met BP’s stated requirements for the task and cites the failure of Transocean’s blowout preventer. Transocean’s CEO says the blowout preventer was successfully tested a week before the accident; he also blames BP and Halliburton for the inadequate cementing believed to have led to the explosion. BP’s president says that Transocean, as owner/operator of the drilling rig, is responsible for safety.

Gulf oil spill hearing – as it happened

12 May

After the failure of the four-storey-high dome to draw oil from the major leak, BP lowers a five-foot-high dome to attempt to cover the smaller leak.

The congressional hearing is told BP, Halliburton and Transocean ignored safety warnings in the hours before the Deepwater explosion.

Firms ignored warning signs before blast, inquiry hears

13 May

Steve Wereley, a researcher at Purdue University, tells the press he believes the well is leaking 70,000 bpd.

BP releases underwater footage of the effort to stem the leak.

First underwater video footage of oil leak

The New York Times reports that “a half-dozen current and former agency scientists” for the Minerals Management Service (MMS) claim they were “regularly pressured by agency officials to change the findings of their internal studies if they predicted that an accident was likely to occur or if wildlife might be harmed”. The article states that the MMS has allowed hundreds of drilling projects without obtaining legally required permits.

US said to allow drilling without needed permits

14 May

BP plans to insert a 4in-tube into the ruptured 21in riser pipe that would take the oil to the surface. If that fails, they will use the small containment dome that has already been lowered. Both methods are intended to reduce, not to stop, the leak.

BP using undersea robots to try to plug Gulf oil leak

BP boss admits job on the line over Gulf oil spill

Obama complains: “I did not appreciate what I considered to be a ridiculous spectacle during the congressional hearings into this matter. You had executives of BP and Transocean and Halliburton falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else … it is pretty clear that the system failed, and it failed badly.”

16 May

The tube begins to draw oil to the surface. The volume of oil travelling through the tube is gradually increased to avoid the hydrate formation that doomed the large containment dome.

Submerged oil plumes suggest gulf spill is worse than BP claims

18 May

Obama plans to establish an independent commission to investigate the oil leak, according to an anonymous administration official.

As the spill continues to spread, the no fishing zone is doubled to 19% of the Gulf waters.

Atlantic coast now under threat as current spreads Gulf oil slick

20 May

BP reports that the amount of oil drawn off by the tube has increased to 5,000 bpd. Given that BP had previously estimated the entire leak at 5,000 bpd and the tube only draws off a fraction of the spill, the leak must be much larger than previously estimated.

Experts testifying at the congressional hearing put the figure at 20,000-100,000 barrels per day.

How big is the slick from BP’s Deepwater Horizon?

24 May

The tube inserted into the leaking pipe captures much less oil than expected.

BP admits Deepwater rescue is capturing less oil

26 May

BP pumps thousands of barrels of mud into the well in an attempt to plug the leak. The process, known as top kill, fails to overcome the flow of oil.

A White House leak shows Obama ended a briefing with the terse command: “Plug the damn hole.”

White House leak reveals Barack Obama’s reaction to news of oil spill

30 May

Hayward causes outrage after telling reporters, “There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back.”

BP’s clumsy response to oil spill threatens to make a bad situation worse

1 June

US launches a criminal investigation into the oil spill.

BP could face ban as US launches criminal investigation

2 June

Titanic director James Cameron assists the clean-up process.

James Cameron enters fight against oil spill

3 June

BP begins an advertising campaign in the US aimed at boosting opinion. Hayward features in the first.

America’s toughest job: fronting BP’s television commercials

BP faces political flack over its decision to pay out more than $10bn (£6.8bn) in dividends to shareholders, despite the deepening crisis.

BP to go ahead with $10bn shareholder payout

4 June

Attempts to place a cap over the valves that were meant to prevent the rig from leaking show signs of success.

BP shares top risers as engineers assess latest oil spill operation

6 June

BP announces the containment cap is capturing 10,000 barrels of oil a day; approximately half the total amount being leaked.

BP capturing ‘10,000 barrels of oil’ a day from Gulf of Mexico

7 June

The widows of two of the oil rig workers give testimony before a congressional committee.

Deepwater Horizon widow asks: how do I tell my children their father is dead?

8 June

In an interview on NBC Obama says he would have sacked BP’s chief executive if he had been working for him.

‘If he was working for me I’d sack him’ – Obama turns up heat on BP boss

11 June

David Cameron calls BP’s chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, to a meeting at Downing Street to discuss the oil disaster.

David Cameron caught between Tory right and Obama

12 June

Scientists double their estimate of the scale of the spill to 40,000 barrels a day.

Scale of BP oil leak revised up to 40,000 barrels a day

14 June

Obama compares the BP oil spill to 9/11.

Barack Obama compares oil spill to 9/11

15 June

Fitch ratings agency cuts BP’s credit rating as the cost of the spill continues to escalate.

BP credit rating slashed as oil spill costs mount

16 June

BP agrees to a $20bn (£13.5bn) downpayment towards compensation for victims of the oil spill.

Barack Obama’s pound of flesh: $20bn compensation and no BP dividends

Actor Kevin Costner provides the clean-up operation with oil-water separation machines he developed with his brother.

Kevin Costner’s oil-water separation machines help with clean-up

17 June

Hayward is accused by members of the US Congress of “stonewalling” after failing to answer a series of questions about the spill’s causes.

Tony Hayward stonewalls Congress

18 June

BP’s credit rating is downgraded by Moody’s after expressing concern at the escalating cost of the cleanup and the potential cost of litigation claims.

BP credit rating downgraded after Tony Hayward’s grilling by Congress

19 June

One of BP’s partners, Anadarko Petroleum, refuses to accept any responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon explosion despite owning a quarter of the well. Its chief executive, Jim Hackett, says BP’s actions probably amounted to “gross negligence or wilful misconduct”.

BP oil spill caused by ‘negligence or misconduct’, says drilling partner

20 June

Photographs of Hayward attending a yacht race on the Isle of Wight with his son cause anger in the US.

BP chief’s weekend sailing trip stokes anger at oil company

21 June

A Deepwater Horizon worker claims that the oil rig was leaking several weeks before it exploded.

Deepwater Horizon worker claims oil rig leaking weeks before explosion

22 June

Hayward fails to make an appearance at a gathering of the oil industry on the same day that control of the oil disaster passes to American Bob Dudley. Greenpeace protesters storm the stage during his replacement’s speech.

BP’s beleaguered Tony Hayward disappears from view

Protesters disrupt BP speech as Tony Hayward pulls out

23 June

An accident puts BP’s oil cap out of action, allowing oil to flow unhindered for several hours.

Gulf oil spill flow increases after accident forces BP to remove cap

25 June

BP shares hit a 14-year low of 304p after the clean-up bill reaches $2.35bn.

BP share slide as oil spill bill climbs to $2.35bn

28 June

Russia’s top energy official says he expects Hayward to step down soon. BP denies he is close to resigning.

Tony Hayward set to step down, Russian official claims

The Guardian publishes a letter from 171 artists, critics and writers complaining about BP’s sponsorship of Tate Britain.

Curators, crude oil and an outdated cultural mix

Protesters disrupt Tate Britain’s party celebrating 10 years of BP sponsorship, throwing molasses over the steps of the gallery.

Art activists take on the Tate crowd over BP

30 June

Hurricane Alex causes heavy seas, disrupting BP’s clean-up efforts.

First hurricane of season hits BP oil spill clean-up

5 July

BP announces the cost of the oil spill has now risen to over $3bn. The company asks its partners, Anadarko and Mitsui Oil Exploration, to contribute almost $400m.

BP asks oil spill partners to pay $400m

6 July

BP’s share price rises as speculation mounts that the company is looking for international investors.

BP shares rise on hopes of international rescue

7 July

There are more than 27,000 abandoned oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico from a host of companies including BP, according to an investigation by Associated Press, which describes the area as ‘an environmental minefield that has been ignored for decades’. Some of them date back to the 1940s. State officials estimate that tens of thousands of them are badly sealed.

Abandoned oil wells make Gulf of Mexico ‘environmental minefield’

9 July

A US appeals court rejects the federal government’s effort to restore an offshore deepwater drilling moratorium, opening the door to resumed drilling in the Gulf of Mexico while the legal fight continues. The same appeals court is expected to hear arguments on the merits of the moratorium case in late August or early September.

US appeals court opens door to new drilling in Gulf of Mexico

11 July

BP begin their latest attempt to seal the leak. Robots remove a leaking cap from the well, to allow a replacement containment system to be installed.

BP begins new operation to seal off leaking Deepwater Horizon well

12 July

With the latest attempt to stem the leak reportedly going well, BP shares rise.

BP shares rise as Deepwater Horizon well repairs progress ‘as planned’

A commission appointed by Obama to uncover the cause of the oil spill is told of “friction” between BP and Transocean, the operator of the Deepwater Horizon.

Barack Obama’s investigation hears of ‘friction’

13 July

BP successfully installs a new, more tightly fitting containment cap on the ruptured wellhead. The next step is to test the internal pressure in the well to establish whether the flow has been stopped.

New cap ‘successfully installed’ on leaking well

15 July

Hillary Clinton pledges to looks into claims BP lobbied for the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

BP faces Lockerbie allegations

BP stops the flow of oil for the first time in 87 days, raising hopes that it could be sealed off for good. The company says it will have to monitor the cap for 48 hours before it can be sure it will hold.

BP stops oil leak in Gulf of Mexico for first time since April

19 July

Fears about the new cap are raised after engineers detect seepage and a possible methane gas leak on the seabed. Admiral Thad Allen, who is in charge of the US government’s response, has written to BP demanding answers to “undetermined anomalies at the wellhead”. BP has yet to respond.

Shares in BP fall more than 5% on the news.

BP oil cap may not have stopped leak

BP shares lead FTSE 100 lower on new spill worries

David Cameron agrees to meet four US senators to discuss concerns that BP lobbied the British government ahead of the decision to release the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, last year. The prime minister, who is embarking on a US visit, had previously stated that his schedule was too full to include a meeting.

Cameron to discuss Megrahi’s release with US senators

20 July

Allen grants BP a further 24 hours to test the new containment cap, but warns that the government may insist on reopening the well if concerns over seepage intensify.

US gives BP 24 hours to monitor capped oil well

21 July

BP admits to using Photoshop to exaggerate the level of activity at the Gulf oil spill command centre. The picture, posted on the company’s website, shows staff monitoring 10 giant video screens. In reality, three of the screens were blank.

BP admits using Photoshop to exaggerate oil spill command centre activity

David Cameron warns US legislators not to single out BP over oil damages. In an interview on ABC television he argues: “Would it be right to have legislation that independently targets BP rather than other companies? I don’t think that would be right … Would it be right to say that BP has to pay compensation for damages that were nothing to do directly with the spill? I don’t think that would be right”

Don’t single out BP over oil damages, David Cameron warns US

23 July

The tropical storm Bonnie forces BP to temporarily suspend drilling on its relief well. The 65 ships involved in the disaster response are leaving the site after the storm, which formed over the Bahamas, was predicated to reach the area by the weekend.

Tropical storm Bonnie forces BP to suspend relief well drilling

23 July

It is revealed that the Deepwater Horizon alarms were switched off at the time of the explosion to allow workers to sleep undisturbed.

Deepwater Horizon alarms were switched off ‘to help workers sleep’

25 July

As the storm passes, crews return to the site in order to finish work on relief wells before the hurricane season starts.

Efforts to plug BP oil leak resume after storm passes

26 July

The BP chief executive, Tony Hayward, is to leave the company, to be replaced by Bob Dudley, a BP veteran overseeing the clean-up.

Tony Hayward to quit BP

27 July

As BP plunges into the red, the company is to to book a $10bn (£6.5bn) tax credit against the costs of cleaning up the oil spill and is making a provision of $32.2bn towards it. Part of the bill will be picked up by UK and US taxpayers.

BP oil spill: taxpayers face clean-up costs

27 July

Greenpeace activists close 46 BP garages in central London in a move to force the company to become greener. Safety switches at the pumps were stolen in order to close them down, action that BP called “childish and irresponsible”.

BP petrol stations have pumps closed by Greenpeace activists

28 July

Tony Hayward points out that he will be too busy to attend a Senate hearing. He told journalists: “I have got a busy week [in the office]”. BP said it would send another representative to testify at the hearing.

Tony Hayward’s parting shot: ‘I’m too busy to attend Senate hearing'”

29 July

Shell refuses to rule out pursuing BP for damages. It suffered a $56m (£36m) loss because of the moratorium on drilling in the US imposed in the wake of the disaster.

Shell could pursue BP for Gulf damages

1 August

BP offers one-off lump sum payments to claimants who waive their right to sue the company in an attempt to stem the tide of compensation claims arising from the Gulf oil spill.

BP offers one-off payouts to stem Gulf oil spill lawsuits

2 August

BP will attempt to stem the flow of oil with a “static kill” in the next 24 hours. The procedure involves pumping heavy drilling mud and cement into the well. – Source

BP pumps cement into blown-out oil well to seal it for good
Plug could permanently cap wellhead after long fight to contain Gulf of Mexico oil spill
by guardian.co.uk
8/5/2010/17:36 BST

Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Gulf of Mexico An operation is under way to pump cement into the blown-out well that has been pumping oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Photograph: Keystone USA-Zuma /Rex Features

BP pumped cement into its blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico today, hoping to start sealing it permanently, a day after it had forced heavy mud down the wellhead.

The new step in the “static kill” came as the tide appeared to be turning in the months-long battle to contain the oil. A federal report yesterday indicated that about a quarter of the spilled crude remained in the Gulf and was degrading quickly.

Even so, Joey Yerkes, a fisherman in Destin, Florida, said he and other boat users, swimmers and scuba divers were finding oil and tar balls in areas that had been declared clear.

“The end to the leak is good news, but the damage has been done,” he said.

If the cement plug is successful, the next step involves a 5,500-metre relief well that intersects with the old one just above the undersea oil reservoir. The blown-out well had been leaking oil since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded off Louisiana on 20 April, killing 11 workers.

The hope has been to pump mud and possibly cement down the relief well when it is completed later this month, stopping up the blown-out well from the bottom, but lately BP executives and federal officials have not been able to publicly agree on its role.

Federal officials, including the spill response commander, Thad Allen, a retired coastguard admiral, have said crews will pump mud and cement through the relief well, but BP officials have recently said only that it will be used in some fashion. They have not elaborated on other options, but these could include using the well simply to test whether the reservoir is plugged.

“We have always said that we will move forward with the relief well. That will be the ultimate solution,” BP’s senior vice-president, Kent Wells, said yesterday.

“We need to take each step at a time. Clearly we need to pump cement. If we do it from the top, we might alter what we do with the relief well, but the relief well is still a part of the solution. The ultimate objective is getting this well permanently sealed.”

Allen said on Tuesday that to be safe, the leak would have to be plugged from two directions, with the relief well being used for the “bottom kill”.

“There should be no ambiguity about that,” he said. “I’m the national incident commander and this is how this will be handled.”

Nearly 53m gallons of oil is still in the Gulf or on its shores, according to a report released by the Interior Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That is nearly five times the size of the Exxon Valdez spill, which wrought environmental havoc in Alaska in 1989.

But almost three-quarters of the nearly 207m gallons of oil that leaked overall has been collected at the well by a temporary containment cap, been cleaned up or chemically dispersed, or naturally deteriorated, evaporated or dissolved.

The remaining oil, much of it below the surface, remains a threat to sea life and Gulf Coast marshes, but the report said the spill no longer threatened the Florida Keys or the east coast. – Source

Gulf oil spill: White House accused of spinning report
by guardian.co.uk
8/5/2010/23:17 BST

Scientists say it is ‘just not true’ that the vast majority of oil from the BP spill has gone

The White House was accused today of spinning a government scientific report into the amount of oil left in the Gulf of Mexico from the BP spill which had officials declaring that the vast majority of the oil had been removed.

As BP workers finished pouring cement into the well as a first step to permanently sealing it today, environmental groups and scientists – including those working with government agencies to calculate the scale and effects of the spill – said White House officials had painted far too optimistic a picture of a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (Noaa) into the fate of the oil.

“Recent reports seem to say that about 75% of the oil is taken care of and that is just not true,” said John Kessler, of Texas A&M University, who led a National Science Foundation on-site study of the spill. “The fact is that 50% to 75% of the material that came out of the well is still in the water. It’s just in a dissolved or dispersed form.”

With work progressing on the final phase of the “static kill” sealing of the well, Thad Allen, the Obama administration’s top official on the spill, told reporters there would be no new oil in the Gulf.

But those assurances failed to satisfy scientists and environmental groups, who disputed the claim by Carol Browner, the White House energy and climate adviser, that “the vast majority of oil is gone”.

In Louisiana, state wildlife officials told CNN that tar balls and patches of oil were still washing up in the marshes and coastal areas of St Bernard, Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes.

Susan Shaw, a marine toxicologist and director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute, said the White House had been too quick to declare the oil was gone. “The blanket statement that the public understood is that most of the oil has disappeared. That is not true. About 50% of it is still in the water,” she said.

Like other scientists, she said the report failed to explain how it reached its estimates on the amount of oil that was biodegraded naturally, or dispersed with chemicals. “There are a lot of unanswered questions.”

Even the White House’s own estimates still left a spill five times the size of that from the Exxon Valdez, she said, with long-term consequences that would be unknown for years to come.

Terry Hazen, the head of ecology at the Lawrence Berkeley national laboratory, who studied the spill for Noaa, said his teams could find no trace of oil on the surface or in the deep between 2km and 100km from the well site last week.

“Whatever was put into the environment, it is undetectable in the water column and the surface of water,” he said. But he added: “That is not true though in the marshes or on some of the shorelines. We do know there is still oil out there.”

He also said there were potential weaknesses in the analysis because of Noaa’s assumptions about the size of the spill.

“When they do all of the inventories trying to estimate all of the oil and where it went there is pretty wide margins of estimates of how much was actually coming out of the well head,” he said. “That complicates everything.”

However, such nuances were overshadowed by the White House, which staged a high-profile event on Wednesday to announce that the well had stopped flowing, and that the consequences of the spill were not as catastrophic as once feared.

Francesca Griffo, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the White House had stepped on more nuanced statements from Noaa scientists. “When these reports go through the spin machine they get distorted,” she said. “If you look closely at this report, it makes it very clear that this is not over.”

Rick Steiner, a former University of Alaska marine biologist, suggested that the White House had been too eager to try to put the oil spill behind it, with Democrats in Congress facing tough election fights in November.

“It seems that there was a rush to declare this done, and there were obvious political objectives there,” he said. “Even if there is not a drop of oil out there, and it had truly magically vanished, it would still be an environmental disaster caused by the toxic shock of the release of 5m barrels of oil.” – Source

Oily Mist Coats Gulf Towns
Airborne oil could be trouble for humans, plants
9/3/2010/5:55 P.M. CDT
by Nick McMaster

(Newser) – Beach workers in Orange Beach, Alabama, have noticed that strong winds from the south—that is, from the oil-soaked Gulf of Mexico—bring with them a greasy mist. Few in the town believe BP’s claims that the oil is gone—why would they, when, after a day at the beach, a napkin rubbed over the pole of an umbrella comes back slimy and brown. “You could actually feel it in your hair and stuff,” one beach worker tells NPR.

Orange Beach officials have paid independent scientists to test the water and land for oil. While they’ve found some disturbing evidence—the napkin-rub test also shows small amounts of oil caked on the stems of local plants—only long-term monitoring will determine the scope of damage to the ecosystem. “We are trying to figure it out, but we’re living in it while we’re trying to figure it out,” says one geologist. – Source

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: