Posted: Jul 14, 2010 11:42 AM by Melissa Canone
A summary of events Wednesday, July 14, Day 85 of the Gulf of
Mexico oil spill that began with the April 20 explosion and fire on
the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd. and
leased by BP PLC, which is in charge of cleanup and containment.
The blast killed 11 workers. Since then, oil has been pouring into
the Gulf from a blown-out undersea well.
STOPPING THE STOPPING THE FLOW
BP froze activity on two key projects Wednesday meant to choke
off the flow of oil billowing from its broken well in the Gulf of
Mexico after days of moving confidently toward controlling the
crisis. The development was a stunning setback after the oil giant
finally seemed to be on track following nearly three months of
failed attempts to stop the spill, which has sullied beaches from
Florida to Texas and decimated the multibillion dollar Gulf fishing
industry. The oil giant and the government said more analysis was
needed before testing could proceed on a new temporary well cap -
the best hope since April of stopping the geyser. Work on a
permanent fix, relief wells that will plug the spill from below
with mud and cement, also was halted.
Oil continued to spew nearly unimpeded into the water, with no
clear timeline on when it would stop. "We want to move forward
with this as soon as we are ready to do it," said Kent Wells, a BP
senior vice president. BP had zipped through weekend preparations
for getting the 75-ton cap in place and undersea robots locked it
smoothly into place Monday atop the well, raising hopes the gusher
could be checked for the first time since the Deepwater Horizon rig
leased by BP exploded April 20, killing 11 workers. Wells said that
it was the government's call late Tuesday to re-evaluate plans for
testing the new cap, and that plans were on hold for at least 24
hours. Federal officials and the company will re-evaluate the best
path forward after that time period.
The run-up to the now-delayed testing process was being closely
monitored from Washington. Allen, who came to BP's U.S. offices in
Houston on Tuesday, also met with Energy Secretary Steven Chu and
U.S. Geological Survey head Marcia McNutt along with BP and
industry representatives. And President Obama has been receiving
multiple daily briefings on the work's progress, his adviser David
Work on a permanent fix, a relief well that would plug the leak
with heavy drilling mud and cement, was halted for up to 48 hours
as a precaution because it's not yet clear what effect the testing
of the new cap could have on it. BP said on Tuesday that it halted
work on a second relief well, but that holdup was expected. The
company is drilling the second well as a backup in case the first
doesn't work. The relief well's timeframe has always been hazy,
with company and federal officials giving estimates ranging from
the end of July to the middle of August before it can be completed.
The surprise delay jarred Gulf Coast residents already weary of
unending gloom. On the Alabama coast, Joyce Nelson said every bit
of news from the spill site increases her stress and sparks a new
round of telephone calls between friends and relatives in Bayou La
Batre, where the seafood industry is virtually shut down because of
the spill. The slowdown at the rig site just made things worse.
Roger N. Anderson, a marine geologist at Columbia University, said
he believes BP and government scientists are just being very
cautious and he's not worried. Freezing work on the relief well may
mean scientists are worried that clamping down the cap will push
new pressure all the way down to the depths of the broken well, he
said. "So I wouldn't panic, is the answer. They're going to be
very, very deliberate about this," Anderson said.
Regulators urged banks to make loans to creditworthy people and
businesses whose livelihoods have been hurt by the Gulf Oil spill.
In a joint statement issued Wednesday, the regulators said banks
should make an effort to work with customers to help them get over
any financial humps. Doing so, will help the local economies heal
and strengthen the long-term relationships between the banks and
their customers. "Banks can help customers recover financially and
be better positioned to honor their obligations," the regulators
said. "In the affected areas, these efforts can also contribute to
the health of local communities." The agencies making the plea
include federal regulators, such as the Federal Reserve and the
Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., along with the Conference of State
Bank Supervisors, which oversees banks at the local level.
Scientists report early signs that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill
is altering the marine food web by killing or tainting some
creatures and spurring the growth of others more suited to a fouled
environment. Near the spill site, researchers have documented a
massive die-off of pyrosomes - cucumber-shaped, gelatinous
organisms fed on by endangered sea turtles. Along the coast,
droplets of oil are being found inside the shells of young crabs
that are a mainstay in the diet of fish, turtles and shorebirds.
And at the base of the food web, tiny organisms that consume oil
and gas are proliferating. If such impacts continue, the scientists
warn of a grim reshuffling of sea life that could over time cascade
through the ecosystem and imperil the region's multibillion-dollar
The first sea turtles to hatch from eggs evacuated to Florida's
Kennedy Space Center because of the Gulf Coast oil spill have been
released into the Atlantic Ocean. Biologist Jane Provancha says the
newborn Kemp's ridley sea turtles did well after their release.
About 700 sea turtle nests - each containing about 100 eggs - are
being trucked from oiled shores along the Gulf to Cape Canaveral,
where they're kept at a climate-controlled facility. The turtles
are being released into the Atlantic as they hatch. Scientists
feared that a generation of the imperiled species would die if they
hatched and swam into the oil.