Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Another oil spill off the Louisiana coast, but contained within 36 hours

The U.S Coast Guard is responding to a natural gas and crude oil discharge from an abandoned wellhead owned by Hilcorp Energy near mile marker 10 on the Lower Mississippi River, southwest of Venice, Louisiana, according to a USCG.
The National Response Center, according to the Guard, received a report of the spill about 1:14 p.m. March 20.
Coast Guard members from Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Incident Management Division were notified at approximately 1:30 p.m. March 20 about the discharge. According to the press release, the Guard arrived on scence about 10:30 yesterday morning, March 21. THey reported an estimated 840 gallons of crude oil was in the water (see photo).
The source of the spill was reported to be from Hilcorp Energy, who announced that the "source of oil" was secured approximately 9:45 p.m. yesterday.
Hilcorp Energy has contracted CUDD Well Control, OMI Environmental Solutions, and Clean Gulf Associates to conduct response operations. Boom, sorbent material, and skimming vessels are being deployed to slow the spread of oil and collect oil from the surface.
The Coast Guard is scheduled to fly over the area today to assess the situation.
Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Incident Management Division will oversee all response operations. And while the press release states "there are no reports of affected wildlife," watch this space for any reports that may come in after the overflight and in the days to come.
The cause of the incident is under investigation.
Gulf of Mexico Environmental News called Hilcorp for comment, and through a service was told a spokesperson for the company said they aren't answering calls right now.
Photo: A purportedly 840-gallon spill issued southwest of Venice from Monday afternoon before being contained last night, March 21. Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Incident Management Division
Update: 8:14 p.m. CT Mar 22: The following press release was issued from New Orleans: The Coast Guard reports that clean-up operations for an oil spill from an abandoned wellhead near Venice, Louisiana, that occurred March 21 have been completed, Wednesday.
Hilcorp Energy reported that the source of the oil discharge has been secured.
Members from the Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Incident Management Division assessed the scene of the incident via a flyover, a shoreline assessment, and a visual inspection of the wellhead, Wednesday.
There were no discrepancies or significant sheening reported.
Approximately 168 gallons of crude oil were reported to be collected during clean-up operations.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

(Repost from 2010) Delay in calling spill of 'national significance', other fumbles (part one of oil spill comm report)

The following article originally ran on, Oct. 7, 2010
In its report issued yesterday (Oct. 6, 2010), the Oil Spill Commission cites numerous problems on the part of the US government when handling the crisis that evolved from the April 20 blowout of the Macondo well, including unnecessary delays, inter-agency mismanagement and possible incorrect use of containment methods.
For purposes of brevity, herewith are highlights from the first half of the report, with part two to follow tomorrow:
* The response was supervised at a national level by a National Incident Commander. On April 29, 2010, the Coast Guard designated the disaster a "Spill of National Significance," and brought in retired Admiral Thad Allen of the US Coast Guard.
* "Though some of the command structure was put in place very quickly, in other respects the mobilization of resources to combat the spill seemed to lag. For about nine days, Deepwater Horizon response efforts continued with the Federal On-Scene Coordinator at the top of the command structure. National Leaders such as Dep. Secretary of the Interior David Hayes were innvolved, but the response was still largely regional in nature--the President had not been to the region, Cabinet secretaries had not yet become involved, and the responders were from the local area," it says in the report.
* Conversations regarding a spill of "national significance" actually first occurred, though, in the first week of the spill -- even though Allen was not brought in for 10 days.
* Dispersant use in the Gulf was questioned by the media, and about that time EPA administrator Lisa Jackson took over the role of overseeing dispersant use, with the federal on-scene coordinator (Paul Zukunft) and Regional Response Teams losing control of this responsibility. The Regional Response Teams are composed of regional representatives from state and local government. The US Coast Guard leads the Regional Response Teams during responses to oil spills in the coastal waters. Tomorrow, part two--including BP's role and an analysis of booms and berms.
*** PHOTOS: TOP: From Wikimedia Commons Images, A C-130 Hercules from the Air Force Reserve Command's 910th Airlift Wing at Youngstown-Warren Air Reserve Station, Ohio, drops an oil-dispersing chemical into the Gulf of Mexico May 5, 2010, as part of the Deepwater Horizon Response effort. The 910th AW specializes in aerial spray and is the Department of Defense's only large-area, fixed-wing aerial spray unit. Source: US Air Force public affairs story direct link; Author: Technical Sergeant Adrian Cadiz; BOTTOM: former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, by Laurie Wiegler, New Orleans, April, 2011.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Exxon to invest $20 billion over 10 years in the Gulf

Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) issued a press release today saying that it is expanding its manufacturing capacity along the U.S. Gulf Coast through planned investments of $20 billion over the next decade. The PR quotes its chairman and CEO Darren Woods as saying this will "take advantage of the American energy revolution."
Since President Donald Trump took office, he's worked to make good on his promises to bring jobs back to America as well as abolish climate change-friendly policies. Today's announcement would strike members of the environmental community as worrisome considering both Exxon's poor environmental record and its offering up Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. The controversial Cabinet pick was Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil from 2006 to 2016, and his close Russian ties have been concerning, particularly in light of election hacking investigations.
The PR goes on to say that:
"The projects, at 11 proposed and existing sites, are expected to generate thousands of new high-paying jobs and $20 billion in increased economic activity in Texas and Louisiana,' Woods said, highlighting the company’s Growing the Gulf initiative in a keynote speech today at the CERAWeek 2017 conference.
“'The United States is a leading producer of oil and natural gas, which is incentivizing U.S. manufacturing to invest and grow,' said Woods. 'We are using new, abundant domestic energy supplies to provide products to the world at a competitive advantage resulting from lower costs and abundant raw materials. In this way, an upstream technology breakthrough has led to a downstream manufacturing renaissance.'”
ExxonMobil is strategically investing in new refining and chemical-manufacturing projects in the U.S. Gulf Coast region to expand its manufacturing and export capacity. The company’s Growing the Gulf expansion program, consists of 11 major chemical, refining, lubricant and liquefied natural gas projects at proposed new and existing facilities along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Investments began in 2013 and are expected to continue through at least 2022.
Woods said that ExxonMobil’s Gulf expansion projects are expected to provide long-term economic benefits to the region, noting the creation of direct employment opportunities and the multiplier effects of the company’s investments.
'Importantly, Growing the Gulf also creates jobs and lasting economic benefits for the communities where they’re located,' Woods said. 'All told, we expect these 11 projects to create over 45,000 jobs. Many of these are high-skilled, high-paying jobs averaging about $100,000 a year. And these jobs will have a multiplier effect, creating many more jobs in the communities that service these new investments.'
According to the American Chemistry Council, chemical manufacturing is one of America’s top exporting industries, accounting for 14 percent of overall U.S. exports in 2015, and exports of specific chemicals linked to shale gas are projected to reach $123 billion by 2030. Most of ExxonMobil’s planned new chemical capacity investment in the Gulf region is targeted toward export markets in Asia and elsewhere.
'These projects are export machines, generating products that high-growth nations need to support larger populations with higher standards of living,' Woods said. 'Those overseas markets are the motivation behind our investments. The supply is here; the demand is there. We want to keep connecting those dots.'"
Praising the announcement, Trump tweeted: "45,000 construction & manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Gulf Coast region. $20 billion investment. We are already winning again, America!" generating 5,877 replies, 6,368 retweets, and 26,504 likes as of 4:07 p.m. Central Time.
Despite the pro-jobs hoopla surrounding this announcement, it remains to be seen exactly how the region will be impacted especially should another horrific oil spill occur. Notably, the 2010 BP oil spill did put oil behemoths on notice, yet drill-baby-drill has remained the mindset.
The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, March 24, 1989, when the Exxon Valdez oil tanker owned by Exxon Shipping Company struck Prince William Sound's Bligh Reef, spilling 10.8 million U.S. gallons (260,000 bbl; 41,000 m3) of crude oil over the next few days. It is the second largest oil spill on U.S. territory, after the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill. Photos: Top - Mississippi River, from New Orleans by Laurie Wiegler; Bottom: U.S. Navy, May 11, 1989 Exxon Valdez cleanup operation.Wikimedia Commons Images