Posted: Jun 17, 2010 1:04 PM by Melissa Canone
A summary of events on Thursday, June 17, Day 58 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.
A grim-faced BP chief executive Tony Hayward said Thursday he
was "deeply sorry" for his company's catastrophic oil spill. "I
understand the seriousness of the situation, the frustrations and
fears that continue to be voiced," he told a House investigations
subcommittee. He also said, "The fire and explosion on the
Deepwater Horizon never should have happened and I'm deeply sorry
that it did." And, while "we need to know what went wrong"
Hayward also said there is still "extensive work to do" before
anyone can say what caused the blowout.
Before testifying, Hayward had to endure more than an hour of
mostly unrelenting criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike.
"We are not small people, but we wish to get our lives back,"
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., the panel's chairman, told Hayward,
throwing back comments made the day before by BP Chairman
Carl-Henric Svanberg - about how BP sympathized with the "small
people" of the Gulf - and Hayward's earlier remark that he wanted
his "life back." Rep. Michael Burgess, a Texas Republican, said
that BP "appears to have taken their eye off the ball." Rep.
Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn, told Hayward "BP has not learned from
previous mistakes." Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said the company
"cut corner after corner," and ignored "tremendous risk."
$20 BILLION FUND
A leading House Republican accused the White House Thursday of a
"$20 billion shakedown" by requiring BP to establish a huge fund
to compensate those hurt by the Gulf Coast oil spill. Rep. Joe
Barton of Texas spoke at the start of a House hearing where Hayward
appeared for the first time before Congress. Rep. Ed Markey sharply
disagreed with Barton, saying the fund was government working to
protect the nation's most vulnerable citizens. White House press
secretary Robert Gibbs responded: "What is shameful is that Joe
Barton seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused
this disaster than the fishermen, small business owners and
communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction."
A woman disrupted a House hearing just as Hayward began his
testimony. The woman, identified as Diane Wilson, shouted from the
back of the room, "You need to be charged with a crime." Capitol
police grabbed her and took her from the room. Wilson, 61, a
fourth-generation fisher from Seadrift, Texas, and other protesters
then milled in the hall. Wilson's hand was stained black. Ann
Wright, 63, of Honolulu, Hawaii, wore a BP hard hat, overalls and
sunglasses adorned with dollar signs. "BP doesn't really care
about this," she said, pulling out an oil-stained rubber ducky.
A relief well meant to stanch a gushing flow of oil into the
Gulf of Mexico is ahead of schedule and could reach its target in
three to four weeks, says Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen. He said a
rig has drilled nearly 10,000 feet below the seafloor and should be
within 10 feet of the existing well within weeks. It will then bore
down about 1,000 feet to intersect with the damaged well farther
underground. Allen says the final push of drilling is the most
difficult. The well originally was slated for completion in
As of Thursday morning, the BP well had gushed between 66
million and 120 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico,
based on government daily spill rate figures. Newly disclosed
documents obtained by the AP show that after the Deepwater Horizon
sank, BP made a worst-case estimate of 2.5 million gallons a day
flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. That is far higher than the
company had said publicly until this week, when the government
released its own worst-case estimate of about that amount. The
undated estimate by BP, apparently was made sometime last month.
Mr. Charlie has seen the up and downs over the years in the oil
patch off Louisiana's coast, but this could be the toughest slump
of all. Earlier this week, the steel rig stationed on the
Atchafalaya River graduated what could be one of its last classes
of workers prepping for the rigors of offshore life. President
Barack Obama's six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the
Gulf has sent shudders across the coast's offshore oil industry -
where no one knows just how extensive or long-lasting the damage to
jobs may be.
Grounded by oil, the charter boat owner along Alabama's Gulf
Coast known as Capt. Bligh walks past an old first mate.
"Arrrrrrgh," Bligh growls like a pirate. He has beard like Santa
Claus and a belt with saltwater fish embroidered in the webbing.
Hardly anyone calls him by his real name, Brent Shaver. A lot of
people don't even know it. Earlier this month, Shaver began a scary
season - one without fishing. He had to shut down his inshore guide
business after oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill made it through
a pass into Perdido Bay, about 100 miles north of the rig site.
Rust-colored tar balls now stain its sandy shores.
A dead sperm whale has been found floating 77 miles south of the
vast oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. According to a news release,
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is conducting
tests to learn where it might have died, whether it had been in oil
and what caused its death. The whale was partly decomposed when it
was found Tuesday.