Deepwater Horizon - Transocean Oil Rig Fire


#7421

CDC: Helicopter crashes fuel oil industry work deaths. helicopter crashes – account for 51%.

Wendy Koch, USA TODAY4:14 p.m. EDT April 25, 2013
Do explosions cause most job-related deaths for oil industry workers? Actually, they and fires account for only 13% while transportation accidents – especially helicopter crashes – account for 51%.

Catastrophes such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion get headlines, but most work-related deaths for oil industry workers result from transportation accidents — especially helicopter crashes, U.S. officials report Thursday.

Employees of the U.S. oil and gas extraction industry had a fatality rate seven times higher than all U.S. workers (27.1 vs. 3.8 deaths per 100,000 workers), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC found 128 workers were killed during offshore operations from 2003 to 2010, based on data from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Transportation accounted for 60 (or 51%) of these deaths, 75% of which resulted from helicopter accidents in the Gulf of Mexico. “Contact with objects and equipment” accounted for 16% of the deaths, fires and explosions for 13% and exposure to harmful substances 13%.

The Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20, 2010, off the coast of Louisiana, which triggered the worst oil spill in U.S. history, killed 11 workers and injured 16 others.

CDC’s findings are consistent with a 2011 study that identified mechanical failures and bad weather as the most common factors for helicopter crashes in the Gulf of Mexico from 1983 to 2009. The earlier study also found that two-thirds of all forced or precautionary landings resulting from mechanical failures occurred in water.

There’s good news, however. To improve safety, the Federal Aviation Administration worked with the oil and gas industry to deploy satellites that better track flights and weather conditions. Since late 2009, when such technology was implemented in the Gulf of Mexico, CDC says no weather-related fatal helicopter crashes during oil and gas operations have occurred as of the end of 2012.

The CDC recommends that pilots, passengers and life rafts should have emergency beacons, people should wear life jackets on flights over water, flotation gear should inflate automatically on impact with water, and life rafts should be externally mounted.


#7422

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA

IN RE: OIL SPILL BY THE OIL RIG MDL NO. 2179 “DEEPWATER HORIZON” IN THE
GULF OF MEXICO, ON APRIL 20, 2010

EVALUATION OF THE CEMENTING ON THE
9 7/8 x 7” PRODUCTION STRING ON THE MACONDO WELL

EXPERT REPORT OF GLEN BENGE

ON BEHALF OF
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

August 26, 2011

Evaluation of the cementing on the 9 5/8 x 7” production string on the Macondo Well

http://www.mdl2179trialdocs.com/releases/release201303060945007/TREX-05990.pdf
(Complete report at the above link)

  1. Summary of Conclusions

This review is an evaluation of the available information regarding the production casing cementing job on the 9 7/8 x 7” production string on the Macondo well, and a determination of the key factors related to the failure of the cement to provide isolation in the well. Included in the report are discussions of the key decision points and their impact on the cementing results.

In my review of the data from the Macondo well, based on personal experience and industry practice, I have concluded the following with respect to the production casing primary cement job:

Cement did not isolate the formations in the Macondo well. The failure of the cement to provide wellbore isolation or act as a barrier can be summarized as: 1) inadequate design of the cementing slurry or job to address the requirements of the well; 2) failure of the cement slurry to perform as expected; and 3) failure of the cement slurry to be properly placed in the well.

For the cement to fail to provide a barrier in the Macondo well, it was either not present across from a producing formation or it was not set and able to act as a barrier to flow, or both. Channeling allowed for a flow path in the annulus for formation fluids. Even with a flow path in the annulus to the casing shoe, the cement left inside the casing had the potential to provide a wellbore seal inside the casing. For it to not have provided a seal, the cement was most likely not set because of contamination, temperature effects or both.

The BP wells team was well versed in cementing. These BP personnel were the final decision makers and were empowered to accept or reject the advice of both the BP internal cementing expert and Halliburton. The BP engineers chose to accept additional risks when designing the cement job with the awareness that remedial cementing work could be done at a later date. Those additional risks included using a leftover cement blend not appropriate for foamed cementing, using a foamed cement in a synthetic oil- based mud (SOBM) environment, limiting cement volume and selecting a reduced number of centralizers.

BP’s slurry design for the Macondo well was inappropriate and not suited for a foamed cement application. BP compromised the quality of the slurry design by utilizing a dry blend leftover from the Kodiak #2 well. The dry blend leftover from the Kodiak #2 well contained additives that were not suitable for foamed cement. This resulted in a suboptimal foamed cement design.

A conventional (unfoamed) slurry could have been used to cement the Macondo well, which would have eliminated the significant risks associated with the use of a foamed cement on the production string.

The laboratory testing performed by Halliburton was incomplete and did not adequately evaluate the slurry. Because the cement was not originally developed as a foamed cement system, BP should have required more testing to confirm the appropriateness of the slurry design for the well. Free water, settling and unset foamed stability testing should have been part of the testing program. BP started the cement job without these key laboratory test results and without a complete set of tests on the slurry actually pumped on the Macondo well – the slurry containing 0.09 gal/sk SCR-100 retarder.

BP also did not follow its internal guidelines for testing cement slurries for deepwater wells. BP’s recommended practices specifically identify temperature as a major risk factor that can lead to cementing failures. Use of its internal guidance could have helped BP identify weaknesses inherent in the suboptimal cement design.

Laboratory testing of a slurry design is dependent upon using the correct temperature of the well. Failure to use a correct temperature can lead to a slurry that sets too quickly, or one that will be over retarded for well conditions and does not gain strength when needed. Halliburton performed lab testing of the Macondo well’s base slurry’s strength at 210° F, and that temperature was reached four hours after the tests were initiated. The testing for foamed compressive strength was performed at 180° F and showed no strength development for at least 24 hours.

It takes time for a well, especially a deepwater well, to recover to near bottom hole static temperature (BHST). Based on the available temperature data reviewed, the Macondo well took significantly longer than four hours to reach 210° F after completion of the production casing cement job. In the case of the Macondo well, the negative pressure test was performed less than 18 hours after the cement was in place. Based on all of the information I reviewed, it is my opinion that, at the time of the Macondo well negative pressure test, the cement was not set. If the cement was not set by the time of the negative test, it would not have been possible for the cement to provide isolation in the well. Once the flow began during the negative pressure test, if the cement was not set, any potential isolation from the cement was permanently destroyed.

Foamed cement should not have been used in the SOBM environment that was present at the Macondo well. The destabilizing effects on foamed cement by SOBM are severe and can lead to a job failure. The risks of failure are so severe that I have not, nor will I, recommend using foamed cement in an oil-based mud environment.

The job design was inadequate for the cement to be placed properly in the well. Poor centralization, use of the base oil pre-flush, limited pre-job circulation and low pump rates virtually assured the cement integrity would be compromised. Lack of proper centralization of the production string increased the potential for channeling, thus leaving an un-cemented area in the annulus.

The production casing used six centralizers spaced throughout the bottom portion of the cemented interval. A pre-job OptiCem run by Halliburton recommended the use of 21 centralizers1 and indicated an increased chance for channeling if that number was reduced.2

Inadequate pre-job circulation did not allow for breaking up of gels in the mud or circulation out of any formation fluids that may have entered the mud while the casing was being run. Coupled with poor centralization, this lack of circulation eliminated opportunities to maximize the circulatable volume of mud in the wellbore.

Finally, the use of base oil, particularly in a weighted mud system, can enhance channeling and is not recommended. BP’s use of base oil increased the chance for channeling due to its very low density and viscosity. The base oil’s low density also reduced the total hydrostatic pressure in the annulus.
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EXCERPT FROM PAGE 36
 When the positive pressure test was performed 12 hours after the cement was in place, the cement was not set in the well.
 When BP performed the negative test on the Macondo well less than 18 hours after the cement was in place, the Halliburton foam crush data indicated the cement was not set.

EXCERPT FROM PAGE 37 of report referenced to Waiting on Cement Time (WOC), the fact that it is critical to obtaining a good cement job.

  1. Post Cement Job Well Operations - Wait on Cement (WOC) Time

When BP performed the positive pressure test 12 hours after the cement was in place on the Macondo well, the OT&C data79 indicates the cement was not set, with the Halliburton data showing the foamed samples also were not set. When BP performed the negative test on the Macondo well less than 18 hours after the cement was in place, the Halliburton lab data showed the foamed cement was not set.

After the cement is placed in a well, it must be allowed to set. This is commonly referred to as wait on cement, or WOC, time. The WOC time is determined by evaluating the strength development data from the lab reports. Industry practice calls for waiting until the cement has 500 psi strength before continuing well operations.
When cement is relied upon as a barrier for well control, the same requirements placed on any other piece of well control equipment should also be placed on the cement. A barrier must be tested to be relied upon in the well. In the deposition of Thomas Roth of Halliburton, he stated:
“[O]nce cement is placed in a well, before it can be depended upon to be an effective barrier as part of a well control program, it must be confirmed.”80


#7423

Empty fish and crab nets in Louisiana three years After the DWH Blowout.

Fairly Long article concerning the current reduced production in the fish, crab and oyster fisheries in
Louisiana areas that had the heaviest oil accumulations during the oil spill.


#7424

ANALYSIS OF WELL CONTAINMENT AND CONTROL ATTEMPTS IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE DEEPWATER BLOWOUT IN MC252

(In hindsight, Addresses use of coffer dams, top kill, junk shot, bull heading mud & cement etc. Very interesting analysis and a good read to say the least. <Infomania>)

http://www.oilspillcommission.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Analysis%20Of%20Well%20Containment%20And%20Control%20Attempts.pdf

FINAL REPORT

Submitted to: The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling

Submitted by:

Mayank Tyagi, PhD.
John Rogers Smith, PhD., P.E.
Darryl A. Bourgoyne, MS.
Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803

January 11, 2011

All findings, opinions, statements, and recommendations contained in this report are solely those of its authors. The report has been submitted to the staff of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, but the report is not the work product of the Commission or its staff, and should not be construed in any respect as the official or unofficial findings, opinions, statements, or recommendations of the Commission or its staff.


#7425

Former BP Engineer Kurt Mix Still Deleting ‘Stuff,’ Government Alleges - Forbes

http://www.forbes.com/sites/walterpavlo/2013/03/28/fmr-bp-engineer-kurt-mix-still-deleting-stuff-govt-alledges/

Former BP drilling engineer Kurt Mix was arrested last April on charges of obstructing justice related to information that he had collected, and allegedly deleted, during his role of trying to stop oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico during the 2010 BP oil spill. Mix and other engineers had worked tirelessly to calculate the flow rate of oil from the Macondo Well in order to develop a means of stopping the spill. Those calculations could also be used later in the government’s prosecution of BP in determining the amount of fines it would pay (determined by the amount of oil spilled). The government came down on Mix when they claimed that he violated a government order to maintain all documentation associated with work done in the process of stopping the spill. The crime he was accused of perpetrating was deleting text message strings from his iPhone…many of which had no relevance to the spill, or business in general (‘what time for lunch’, ‘my back hurts’, etc.). However, government prosecutors are pushing this case hard.

Since the time of his arrest Mix’s lawyer, Joan McPhee of Ropes & Gray, has argued that there were no text messages destroyed in any way meant to obstruct justice and even if there were messages deleted that all the flow rate calculations were preserved by Mix and shared with on-site government personnel through other means (paper, verbal, Excel Spreadsheets, hand written notes). The case is marching toward trial, but not before more charges were levied against Mix in a superseding indictment filed by the government last week …. now he’s accused of deleting voicemails! My god, if Mix is successfully prosecuted he may not be allowed near a smart phone again.

According to a recent motion McPhee filed, the new charges have no merit either. The superseding indictment broadens Count Two to include the deletion of “at least nine” voicemails “on or about August 20, 2011” and, in addition, alleges that roughly 350 other voicemails had been deleted from Kurt Mix’s iPhone “by August 22, 2011.”

Some of the deleted, but obviously not missing, voicemails are said to be from Mix’s dog groomer and wishes for a happy 50th birthday. If Mix’s dog groomer had information related to oil flow into the Gulf of Mexico, he’s probably in the wrong business.

During this time when Supreme Court justices have expressed concern over the budgetary impact that the sequester may have on the Justice System, it is a shame to see this waste of resources pursuing this case against Mix. I know it’s tough for prosecutors to retract an indictment, looks bad on the resume, but there has to be other cases that are more pressing and pertinent to protecting the public interest.

Mix’s alleged abuse of deleting a few texts and voicemails during the tense moments of trying to cap a well seems ridiculous. The precedent of this case could end up being that everyone actively working in a crisis situation needs to lawyer-up in order to protect them from future prosecution. Had Mix and others done just that then the oil would still be spewing into the Gulf today.

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I am thoroughly impressed with the ignorance displayed by the Justice Department. They have almost totally ignored one of the most
Important contributing causes of the blowout:
BP conducting positive and negative pressure tests on green cement with virtually zero compressive strength,
then circulating out 8300 feet of drilling mud, Again on on a cement job that still hasn’t reached 500 PSI compressive strength.

Reading the article just makes me shake my head in disbelief.

Review the report of the government’s OWN expert at the link below.

Evaluation of the cementing on the 9 5/8 x 7” production string on the Macondo Well

http://www.mdl2179trialdocs.com/rele...TREX-05990.pdf

Excerpts from page 36 of the above noted report.

 When the positive pressure test was performed 12 hours after the cement was in place, the cement was not set in the well.
 When BP performed the negative test on the Macondo well less than 18 hours after the cement was in place, the Halliburton foam crush data indicated the cement was not set.

EXCERPT FROM PAGE 37 of report referenced to Waiting on Cement Time (WOC), the fact that it is critical to obtaining a good cement job.

  1. Post Cement Job Well Operations - Wait on Cement (WOC) Time

When BP performed the positive pressure test 12 hours after the cement was in place on the Macondo well, the OT&C data79 indicates the cement was not set, with the Halliburton data showing the foamed samples also were not set. When BP performed the negative test on the Macondo well less than 18 hours after the cement was in place, the Halliburton lab data showed the foamed cement was not set.

After the cement is placed in a well, it must be allowed to set. This is commonly referred to as wait on cement, or WOC, time. The WOC time is determined by evaluating the strength development data from the lab reports. Industry practice calls for waiting until the cement has 500 psi strength before continuing well operations.
When cement is relied upon as a barrier for well control, the same requirements placed on any other piece of well control equipment should also be placed on the cement. A barrier must be tested to be relied upon in the well. In the deposition of Thomas Roth of Halliburton, he stated:
“[O]nce cement is placed in a well, before it can be depended upon to be an effective barrier as part of a well control program, it must be confirmed.”80


#7426

Key Charge Against Ex-BP Official In Spill Case Dismissed | WAMC

It’s another bad day for the Justice Department.

A federal judge in Louisiana has thrown out the central criminal charge against a former BP executive because prosecutors failed to prove he knew about a pending congressional investigation into oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico three years ago. U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt also ruled that a Democratic House member who inquired about the oil flow rate was acting as head of a subcommittee, not a full congressional committee, as required under the federal Obstruction of Justice statute.

The judge’s ruling dismisses half of the BP Task Force prosecution against David Rainey, the highest ranking official at the British oil giant to be charged with a crime in connection with the spill and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig. Eleven men died there in April 2010.

Brian Heberlig, a lawyer for Rainey, told NPR in an email statement that “we are very pleased with the Court’s thoughtful and well-reasoned opinion dismissing the main charge in the indictment.”

The original grand jury indictment said Rainey failed to share accurate information about the oil flow rate during a briefing with members of Congress and their staff only weeks after the spill, and that he helped prepare a misleading response to Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Ed Markey about flow rate estimates.

But the judge ruled that “it is not enough that the indictment obliquely suggest that the defendant was aware of a request emanating from some person or group associated with Congress.”

He added: “Because it is an essential element of this crime that the defendant knew of this inquiry and investigation, the indictment must allege such knowledge. It does not.”

A Justice Department spokesman said prosecutors are reviewing the ruling and declined to comment further “at this time.” Authorities have the option of appealing the ruling or refashioning their indictment. The judge’s decision left in place a second charge against Rainey, for allegedly making false statements about the oil flow rate in an April 2011 interview with law enforcement agents.

Lawyers who represent people in front of Congress are already taking note of the decision.

Washington lawyer Stanley Brand says “it’s certainly significant from a congressional standpoint for future cases.”

“For obstruction purposes,” Brand says, “it has to be an officially authorized investigation and what that means is, you’ve got to have the chair and you’ve got to have the majority otherwise it’s just a rump exercise for the purposes of the law.”


#7427

That the tragedy of the loss of eleven lives, and the massive environmental impactcontinues to provoke debate is obvious from the huge number ofposts on this topic, and I am certain that this will continue for many years tocome. I have worked in this industry for more than 17 years, mainly onsemi-subs in the exploration sector, so it is safe to assume that I have aninterest in the events that lead-up to what many feel was an avoidable event.

Whilst I am employed primarily in the stability side of the house, my particular area of interest is human-factors, having specialised in this field as amilitary aviator in a previous career. It has become obvious to me, at leasthere in the UK, that the study of human-factors in the offshore industry is woefully inadequate, chiefly because our endeavours take place far away fromdirect management oversight. Many events take place that go unreported for anumber of reasons; they be seemingly trivial near-misses, or we or ourcolleagues might be embarrassed by our fallibility. More worryingly, we mightnot feel able to raise our concerns for the fear of losing a financial incentive, or becausewe would rather not face the possibility of retribution such as demotion ordismissal.

The understandable reluctance to raise our worries means that shore-based management are left tomake assumptions about activities at the workplace, which may be close toreality, but equally may be well wide of the mark, leading to situations wherepolicies and procedures that are unfit for purpose become the unchallengednorm.
The implementation of the SEMS II Rules, in particular these two;
[I]Requiring an employeeparticipation plan that provides an environment that promotes participation byoffshore industry employees as well as their management to eliminate ormitigate safety hazards.
[/I]
[I]
and[/I][I]
[/I]
[I]Establishing guidelinesfor reporting unsafe working conditions that enable offshore industry personnelto report possible violations of safety, environmental regulationsrequirements, and threats of danger directly to BSEE.[/I]

are a welcome development, along with recent proposals to strengthen protection for offshore employees under H.R.1649. If we want to make the greatest benefit of these provisions, it might be worth taking a look at how other industries have put similar provisions into practice:

In the United Kingdom some 30 years ago, aircraft accident investigators recognizedthe value of looking into the background events that may have been the root-causeof accidents and incidents. They began to realise that ‘human-factors’ may havebeen of significance, either as precursors or direct-causes. The aviationauthorities determined that understanding of the field of human-factors waspoor, and set-about the means to remedy this shortcoming by introducing amethod of communication which protected the identity of the employee raising anissue, in the interests of obtaining data which could subsequently beacted-upon. Confidential Occurrence Reporting has since spread to a number ofother high-risk industries, such as nuclear power generation, maritime trade,and rail transport.
Perhaps it is time to consider whether the global offshore industry wouldbe a safer place to work if our employees were given the opportunity to raise theirconcerns with both management and regulatory authorities in the spirit ofimproving the understanding what really takes-place offshore?


#7428

Andrew
Appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts on the matter.

You make very good points.


#7429

BP Well Leaders Seek Dismissal of Charges in Gulf Spill - Bloomberg

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-31/bp-well-leaders-seek-dismissal-of-criminal-charges.html

Two BP Plc (BP/) well-site leaders who were aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig when an explosion killed 11 workers and triggered the biggest U.S. offshore oil spill asked a court to dismiss the federal charges against them.
Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, BP’s highest-ranking employees aboard the Gulf of Mexico rig during the April 20, 2010, blowout, are each charged with 11 counts of involuntary manslaughter, 11 counts of seaman’s manslaughter and one count of violating the U.S.Clean Water Act. They have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial in January. The most serious count against them carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
Prosecutors said that the men, who supervised key pressure tests during the final drilling operations, ignored indications that the well wasn’t secure. The defendants said in a filing yesterday in federal court in New Orleans that U.S. laws don’t extend to a drilling rig floating in mile-deep waters almost 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast. The territorial boundary is 12 miles off shore.
The Deepwater Horizon, which was owned by Vernier, Switzerland-based Transocean Ltd. (RIG) and was drilling the Macondo well for London-based BP, carried the flag of theMarshall Islands, which isn’t subject to U.S. laws, according to the filing.
‘Territorial Jurisdiction’
The U.S. “lacks territorial jurisdiction for acts occurring on the Deepwater Horizon, and Mr. Kaluza and Mr. Vidrine may not be prosecuted” under the statues they were charged with violating, David Gerger and Shaun Clarke, Kaluza’s lawyers, said in the filing.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department, declined in an e-mail to comment on the filing, saying the government will reply in court at the appropriate time.
David Rainey, BP’s former vice president of exploration for the Gulf of Mexico, was charged with obstruction of Congress and making false statements related to the size of the spill. A federal judge in New Orleans on May 20 threw out the obstruction charge. Rainey will stand trial on the remaining count in October.
BP pleaded guilty to 14 charges and agreed to pay $4 billion to resolve all criminal claims against it arising from the Deepwater Horizon incident. The company also agreed to pay an additional $525 million to resolve claims by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it underestimated the size of the spill to bolster stock prices. More than 4 million barrels of oil spilled into the gulf, the U.S. estimated.
Felony Manslaughter
The 14 criminal counts include 11 for felony manslaughter, one felony count of obstruction of Congress, one misdemeanor count under the Clean Water Act and one misdemeanor count under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, according to the plea agreement.
Thirteen of the charges are related to the accident itself and are based on negligent misinterpretation of the negative pressure test conducted on board the rig, BP said in the plea agreement. The obstruction count involves communications on flow-rate estimates to a congressional subcommittee, according to court filings.
Scott Dean, a BP spokesman, had no comment on the well-site leaders’ request to dismiss charges against them.
Kaluza and Vidrine said they can’t be prosecuted under statutes applying U.S. jurisdiction to the Outer Continental Shelf because the Deepwater Horizon wasn’t “erected on the seafloor” and was floating in waters considered “the high seas,” which aren’t covered by those laws.
‘Ships’ Officers’
They also claim the seaman’s manslaughter charges should be dismissed because that statute only applies to “ships’ officers and other employees working in marine operations, maintenance or navigation.’’
“The statute does not apply to persons such as Mr. Kaluza and Mr. Vidrine working on a vessel in a different capacity,’’ according to the filing.
The cases are U.S. v. Kaluza, 12-cr-00265; U.S. v. Rainey, 12-cr-00291; and BP is U.S. v. BP Exploration and Production Inc., 12-00292, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).


#7430

Judge delays ex-BP engineer’s trial, Kurt Mix | Local News - Home
http://m.wdsu.com/news/judge-delays-exbp-engineers-trial/-/17429724/20196598/-/11fbocu/-/index.html

A federal judge has agreed to postpone the trial of a former BP engineer charged with deleting text messages about the company’s response to its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Kurt Mix’s trial was scheduled to start June 10, but U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. agreed to reschedule it for Dec. 2 to give Mix’s attorneys more time to review millions of government documents related to the case.

Mix, a resident of Katy, Texas, pleaded not guilty last year to two counts of obstruction of justice. Prosecutors claim he deliberately deleted more than 200 text messages to and from a supervisor and more than 100 to and from a BP contractor to prevent them from being used in a grand jury’s probe of the spill.


#7431

Cullman Times : ‘Critical importance to Cullman, Alabama’
http://m.cullmantimes.com/cullmantimes/pm_112892/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=Zjaw7Vlt
The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill that dumped almost 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico might’ve happened a few hundred miles from Cullman — but that doesn’t mean the massive, 2010 catastrophe didn’t have a local effect.
The leak persisted for 87 days until crews finally managed to seal it, and during that time the clean-up and after-effects wreaked havoc on the southern economy, costing revenue across Alabama, Louisiana and several other states.
After a lengthy legal battle, a class-action suit resulted in the creation of an uncapped fund that will be used to reimburse businesses and groups negatively affected by the spill.
Oil may have only landed on the beaches of two coastal Alabama counties, but officials say people far inland could still be eligible for payments under the claims process.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and BP oil claims specialist Patrick Juneau visited Cullman on Wednesday to break down the process for locals with an hour-long session at the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce.
“This is something that was so large and affected almost every business,” Strange said. “Even looking at Cullman, the ripple effect of the entire coastline being shut down is just amazing.”
Juneau, who has been put in charge of administering settlements and accepting claims, described the process as “one hell of a year.”
“This is the largest, most complicated settlement program in history,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is let people know about the process is, what their rights are and how to file a claim.”
A total of 172,540 claims have been filed — with 32,367 of those originating from Alabama. Almost $3.5 billion in claims have been declared since the office opened up to receive them a little over a year ago. There have been 154 claims filed in Cullman County over the past year.
To apply for a claim, businesses are required to prove declines in revenue during the affected time surrounding the oil spill. There are a handful of benchmarks to allow a business to file, though most require proof of a 10-15 percent drop in revenue over a three month period. The filing deadline is April 22, 2014.
“You have to show consecutive losses in a specific period of time,” Juneau said.
Considering Cullman County suffered its own catastrophe in April 2011 — via the tornadoes that shredded several small businesses and homes — attorney Roy Williams asked if a special concession could be made for those businesses, since the local event will only work to further skew income figures.
“That’s something that could’ve shut down some businesses from April until December,” he said.
Juneau didn’t go into specifics on how those types of issues might be addressed, but did say he encourages every business that might have been affected to apply.
Though public government entities are not included under the settlement, Cullman County Board of Education finance director Russell Raney asked Strange the status of a separate suit seeking funds to make up for lost tax revenue for those agencies.
“It’s in the first phase of the trial and that is before the judge now,” Strange said. “I’ve said from the very beginning that I’d be open to a fair settlement, but I won’t take an unfair settlement. Right now, we’re still working through the process.”
The Cullman session was one of several stops on the Attorney General’s schedule Wednesday, and Chamber President Leah Bolin said she was proud the agency could offer the meeting to help locals gather information about the process.
“We wanted our members and the community to be aware of the legitimate claims in north Alabama, and to have the ability to recoup any lost income,” she said.

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Cullman is about THREE HUNDRED MILES from the Gulf of Mexico and was hit by a tornado in April of 2011.
Is this an example of excessive claims/payments that BP complained to the court about?


#7432

Yes it is!


#7433

Transocean Deepwater Drilling cannot put off responding to subpoenas in a federal investigation of chemicals released during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, a federal judge ruled.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/06/19/58664.htm

 HOUSTON (CN) - Transocean Deepwater Drilling cannot put off responding to subpoenas in a federal investigation of chemicals released during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, a federal judge ruled.
 U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal refused to stay her final judgment calling for Transocean to comply with five subpoenas issued by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board about the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
 The Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers.
 The chemical safety board, established by Congress in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, examines accidental releases of hazardous substances that lead to serious injury, death or substantial property damage.
 The government sued to enforce the administrative subpoenas in October 2011. Rosenthal stayed the petition until a multidistrict litigation panel ruled on whether to transfer the case to Louisiana.
 Last February Rosenthal lifted the stay, and litigation proceeded in the Southern District of Texas.
 Transocean moved to dismiss the government's petition or quash the subpoenas, challenging the board's jurisdiction to issue them.
 Rosenthal denied the motion in late March, just weeks before issuing her final judgment.
 The rig owner asked Rosenthal to stay her judgment pending its appeal to the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit. It argued that it did not have to comply with the subpoenas "unless and until the appellate court says it must," according to the district court's ruling. 
 "That argument is not enough to justify a stay," Rosenthal wrote in her 10-page order.
 "The government argues that continued delay to the [board's] safety investigation would cause additional injury to the government's effort to complete its safety investigation, and thus additional injury to the public," she wrote. "The nature of the investigation into aspects of public and worker safety bolsters the link between the [board's] interests and the public interest.
 "Transocean argues that there is a countervailing interest in preventing appeals from becoming moot and to resolve complex legal issues of public significance. But denying the stay does not moot the jurisdictional issues Transocean has raised," she added.
 "On balance, this court cannot conclude that the public interest would be better served through a stay than through compliance with the final judgment enforcing the administrative subpoenas," Rosenthal concluded.

#7434

Fuel Fix » New indictments issued in Gulf oil spill case

A federal grand jury issued a new indictment Wednesday against a former BP executive that charges him anew with obstruction of Congress in connection with the investigation of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The move by prosecutors came after a federal judge last month threw out an obstruction charge against David Rainey of Houston.

Separately on Wednesday, a grand jury issued a new indictment against a former BP engineer, removing references to all but three of the hundreds of voice mails that the U.S. government had alleged were deleted from his cell phone to obstruct the investigation of the oil spill.

The new indictment against Rainey appears to be an effort by prosecutors to correct deficiencies that U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt had said gave him no choice but to dismiss the earlier obstruction charge. Whether the reworded indictment passes muster this time is unclear. Apparently aware there may be a problem, the government also Wednesday filed a motion asking Engelhardt to reconsider his earlier ruling. Rainey’s lawyer, Brian Heberlig, did not return a call seeking comment.

In dismissing the earlier obstruction of Congress charge, the judge sided with the defense arguments that the government failed to allege knowledge of a pending congressional investigation and that the law Rainey was charged under does not apply to congressional subcommittee investigations.

In the new indictment, prosecutors make allegations that Rainey knew of the pending criminal probe, and in the specific count alleging obstruction of Congress they refer to him obstructing a House committee investigation rather than a subcommittee investigation.

Rainey, who also faces a charge of making false statements to investigators, has pleaded not guilty to the earlier accusations. He is scheduled for trial Oct. 15. Rainey, who is now president of exploration for BHP Billiton, will be arraigned Thursday on the new indictment.

The superseding indictment of Kurt Mix of Katy follows a federal judge’s ruling in New Orleans earlier this month that barred prosecutors from making reference at trial to the bulk of the unrecovered voice mail messages.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. said that several dozen of the messages may have been deleted by AT&T, and not Mix. So regardless of their source, their deletion couldn’t have resulted from corrupt intent by Mix, the judge said.

As to most of the remaining unrecovered voice mails, the judge said prosecutors could not mention them because there is no evidence they came from BP employees or contractors involved in the oil spill case.

Duval said unrecovered voicemails left by “individuals not employed by BP or involved in the Macondo well response are not relevant to any issue in this matter.”

Duval said three unrecovered voice mails from a contractor or a supervisor could be admitted because those callers were significantly involved in the Macondo well response. A fourth unrecovered message that was left by someone who was routed through BP’s general switchboard also may be admitted because it can be inferred it came from a BP employee, the judge ruled.

The ruling did not apply to two voice mail messages that prosecutors were able to recover through forensic analysis.

However, the new indictment only made mention of three voice mails, one from a contractor, one from a supervisor and the message from a caller routed through BP’s switchboard.

In the superseding indictment, the second one issued in the case against Mix, prosecutors did not mention that nearly 350 voice mails were deleted from Mix’s iPhone. That number was included in the earlier indictment.

Mix, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice and is scheduled for trial Dec. 2, is set to be arraigned Tuesday on the new indictment against him.

Two BP well-site leaders face manslaughter charges in the Gulf oil spill case. BP pleaded guilty to manslaughter, obstruction and other charges and agreed to pay $4.5 billion in criminal fines and Securities and Exchange Commission fines.

The British oil giant owned the undersea well that blew out in the Gulf off Louisiana, triggering an explosion on the Transocean-owned Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 men. The resulting oil spill was the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

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It’s been over three years and The “government” can’t seem to get their act together when filing criminal charges.
Maybe they should be charged with incompetence!


#7435

Unanswered Questions Still Dog BP Defendant’s Curious Case (Kurt Mix)- Forbes

http://www.forbes.com/sites/lorensteffy/2013/06/20/unanswered-questions-still-dog-bp-defendants-curious-case/

The curious case of Kurt Mix gets curiouser and curiouser. Mix is a former BP engineer and the first person indicted in connection with the Deepwater Horizon disaster. He wasn’t involved in the design of the Macondo well, which BP was drilling at the time of the accident. He didn’t make any decisions on whether drilling should proceed or what procedures should be followed. He wasn’t in a position to stop the disaster from happening.

In fact, Kurt Mix had nothing to do with Macondo until well after the blowout. He was on the team brought in to cap the runaway well.
His alleged crime? Deleting a couple of strings of text messages from his phone. In the messages, he discussed with a supervisor how an early attempt at plugging the well failed because, as the BP team expected, the rate at which crude oil was flowing from the ruptured wellhead was too great. For what amounted to two flicks of the thumb, Mix is facing 20 years in prison.

In a superseding indictment, filed yesterday, the government added the allegation that Mix admitted to BP attorneys that he had deleted some text and voicemail messages after being instructed not to. The new indictment also adds three phone calls to the list of messages he allegedly deleted.

The case is curious, though, because it isn’t clear how exactly Mix’s actions obstructed justice. In fact, Mix, who pleaded not guilty to the earlier indictment last year, may have provided the government with the evidence it needed to charge BP with making false statements about the size of the oil spill.

In the first weeks after the disaster, BP, in public statements clung to its low-ball “guessimate” of a flow rate of 5,000 barrels a day. As Mix’s attorney noted in earlier court filings, BP engineers, including Mix, were working with capping scenarios that assumed flow rates of between 64,000 and 146,000 barrels a day. Mix and other engineers shared those estimates with the spill response team, which included government representatives.

Mix was never subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury, and government already had the information in his text messages the government from other sources, including earlier communications from Mix himself. Mix himself was too low-level an employee to be responsible for BP’s official statements on the flow rate.

The superseding indictment does little to dispel the questions surrounding the Mix case — why he’s being prosecuted in first place, how the government came to discover the missing messages and, perhaps most important, why prosecutors would care.

Of all the legal issues surrounding the Deepwater Horizon, the case of Kurt Mix is the most curious, and getting more so as it winds toward the Dec. 2 trial date. BP has admitted it lied to Congress about the size of the spill, and by the government’s own admission, Mix helped expose those lies. So the question that has lingered over the case for so long remains: why is he facing 20 years in prison?


#7436

BP fights back in settlement dispute - The Independent Media Group

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — BP is placing a full-page advertisement in three of the nation’s largest newspapers on Wednesday as the company mounts an aggressive campaign to challenge what could be billions of dollars in settlement payouts to businesses following its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The ad, scheduled to run in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, accuses “trial lawyers and some politicians” of encouraging Gulf Coast businesses to submit thousands of claims for inflated or non-existent losses.

“Whatever you think about BP, we can all agree that it’s wrong for anyone to take money they don’t deserve,” the ad says. “And it’s unfair to everyone in the Gulf – commercial fishermen, restaurant and hotel owners, and all the other hard-working people who’ve filed legitimate claims for real losses.”

In April, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier rejected BP PLC’s request to block all payouts to businesses through a multi-billion dollar settlement it reached with a team of private plaintiffs’ attorneys. The London-based oil giant appealed the decision. A three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear the case on July 8.

BP’s ad claims Barbier’s ruling “interprets the settlement in a way no one intended” and results in settlement payouts to businesses that didn’t suffer any spill-related losses.

“Even though we’re appealing the misinterpretation of the agreement, we want you to know that the litigation over this issue has not in any way changed our commitment to the Gulf,” it says.

BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said the newspaper ad is consistent with the company’s efforts to keep the public informed of its economic and environmental restoration efforts.

“It explains the actions we are taking to defend the contract we agreed to and to assure the integrity of the claims process,” he said in a statement. “But it is also intended to make clear that BP remains as committed today as it was three years ago to doing the right thing. While we are actively litigating the payments by the claims program for inflated and even fictitious losses, we remain fully committed to paying legitimate claims due to the accident.”

Barbier appointed Lafayette-based attorney Patrick Juneau to administer the settlement program. BP has accused Juneau of trying to rewrite the terms of the settlement and claims he has made decisions that expose the company to what could be billions of dollars in fictitious claims.

But the judge upheld the claims administrator’s interpretation of settlement terms that govern how businesses’ pre- and post-spill revenue and expenses – and the time periods for those dollar amounts – are used to calculate their awards.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys who brokered the class-action settlement with BP have said the payments to businesses were clearly spelled out in the agreement. They claim BP simply undervalued the settlement and underestimated how many claimants would qualify for payments.

Last week, BP called for an independent investigation of alleged misconduct by an attorney who worked on Juneau’s staff. The lawyer, Lionel H. Sutton III, resigned last Friday – a day after Juneau delivered a report to Barbier that outlined the allegations.

A law firm allegedly paid Sutton a portion of settlement proceeds from claims he referred to the firm before he went to work for Juneau. In a statement, BP said only a “comprehensive and independent investigation” of the allegations involving Sutton will ensure the “integrity” of the claims process.

BP estimated more than a year ago that it would spend roughly $7.8 billion to resolve tens of thousands of claims by businesses and individuals covered by the settlement. The company now says it can’t give a reliable estimate for the total value of the deal.

Barbier also heard testimony earlier this year for a first phase of a trial designed to identify the causes of BP’s April 2010 well blowout and assign percentages of fault to the companies involved.

Billions more hinge on the outcome of the trial, which includes claims by the federal government and Gulf states. It’s unclear whether Barbier will issue any substantive rulings before the trial’s second phase, which is scheduled to start in the fall.


#7437

MORE FRAUDULENT CLAIMS…Another $360,881 ripped off!

3 charged in scheme to submit false Deepwater Horizon oil spill claims totaling $138,881 | al.com
Also, The U.S. Attorney’s Office has now charged eight people with conspiring to defraud the oil spill claims funds, and the first five have pleaded guilty.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Two Birmingham men and a Bessemer woman face federal charges for receiving a combined $138,881 in a conspiracy to submit false lost wage claims after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, federal authorities announced today.

Jeremy Jamal Bell, 24, and Anthony Keith Bivins, 42, both of Birmingham, and Cametrica L. Menifield, 31, of Bessemer, all intend to plead guilty to the charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States, according to plea agreements filed Monday in U.S. District Court.

U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr. announced the charges this morning.

On April 20, 2010, an explosion and fire occurred on Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, spilling oil and polluting portions of the Gulf Coast. British Petroleum, or BP, owned the Macondo oil well where the rig exploded.

At first, individuals and businesses submitted claims for costs, damages and losses incurred from the Deepwater Horizon spill directly to BP. In June 2010, the company established the Gulf Coast Claims Facility to mediate and settle claims, and in August 2010 the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust was created to distribute the money.

Bell, Bivins and Menifield are accused of taking part in a scheme to defraud the GCCF. Combined, the three were paid about $138,881.

They are charged with independently agreeing to provide personal information, such as Social Security numbers and bank account details, to individuals who recruited them and used the information to file the fraudulent claims. The recruiters are not named in court documents.

After Bell, Bivins and Menifield received the money, each of them turned some of it over to the individuals who recruited them in the scheme.

On July 21, 2011, Menifield gave about $24,000 to a co-conspirator and kept about $10,000 for herself, according to court documents.

On Aug. 9, 2011, Bell received $42,877 from the fund, and later that month he withdrew $42,402 from his account for the person who recruited him.

On Oct. 29, 2011, Bivins cashed a claims check for $61,987 and used it buy money orders and a prepaid $5,000 debit card. He received $5,000 and the debit card for his role in the scheme.

The FBI investigated these cases, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Henry Cornelius is prosecuting.

Attorneys for the defendants declined to comment in the case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has now charged eight people with conspiring to defraud the oil spill claims funds, and the first five have pleaded guilty.

  • On Monday, Jonathan M. Hoffman, of Birmingham, was sentenced to three years’ probation and must pay restitution of $46,150.

  • In April, Warren Lamoss Sewell, 43, and Selena Sewell Fleeton, 44, pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to defraud the United States for submitting fraudulent lost wage claims. They have not yet been sentenced.

  • In March, Christopher Jarris Addison, 31, of Birmingham; Crystal Davis Blackmon, 37, of Bessemer; and Andre Clinton Dale, 45, of Mobile, pleaded guilty for their roles in a conspiracy to submit fraudulent claims for nearly $175,000. Each is set to be sentenced later this year.


#7438

Ex-FBI Chief Freeh to Head BP Settlement Program Probe - Bloomberg

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh will head an ethics probe of the organization that’s processing and paying oil-spill damage claims for BP Plc. (BP/)
Freeh, a former federal judge, will conduct an external investigation to supplement an internal probe already under way of a staff attorney at the Deepwater Horizon Court Supervised Settlement Program. The attorney was suspended after being accused of accepting fees from law firms while processing their clients’ claims from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
“The court has concluded that in order to ensure the integrity of the program for the benefit of the parties and the public, an independent, external investigation of this matter should be performed,” U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans said in an order today.
Freeh will also conduct “fact finding as to any other possible ethical violations or other misconduct” within the claims-settlement program, Barbier said. He’ll evaluate the organization’s internal compliance program and “anti-corruption controls” and recommend improvements.
London-based BP has been pressing Barbier for an independent ethics probe “to get to the bottom of this troubling allegation of unethical and potentially criminal behavior within the claims facility,” Geoff Morrell, a BP spokesman, said in a June 21 statement. Morrell applauded the appointment in an e-mail message today.
‘Isolated Incident’
“We welcome Mr. Freeh’s appointment, and are confident that any impropriety, if confirmed, will prove to be an isolated incident,” Stephen Herman and James Roy, co-lead counsels for spill victims, said in an e-mail today. Freeh was appointed with the consent of plaintiffs’ attorneys as well as BP, they said.
The company has asked Barbier for a comprehensive public audit of the organization, which as of June 10 has paid $2.44 billion in compensation to victims injured by the more than 4 million barrels of crude that gushed from BP’s blown-out well off the coast of Louisiana in 2010. The judge has not acted on that request.
BP is battling Patrick Juneau, the head of the Deepwater Horizon claims facility, over what the company has said are Juneau’s misinterpretation of settlement terms, which has resulted in the payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in claims for “fictitious” losses.
Barbier has three times rejected BP’s request to force Juneau to adopt the interpretation the company prefers. A U.S. appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments in the dispute on July 8.


#7439

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: CRM: Deepwater Horizon (BP) Oil-Spill Fraud HOTLINE

http://www.justice.gov/criminal/oilspill/

In response to the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, fire, and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Government has committed to holding all responsible parties accountable for all cleanup costs and other damage. Federal officials have identified BP as one of the responsible parties, and BP has begun to receive and process applications for claims stemming from the effects of the oil spill. As of August 23, an independent claims facility, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, has begun the task of processing claims and disbursing payments from the $20 billion fund that BP has established for that purpose.

The Department of Justice is placing a high priority on promptly investigating and prosecuting all meritorious reports of fraud related to the oil spill and its aftermath, including fraudulent claims, charity fraud, identity theft, insurance fraud, and procurement and government-benefit fraud. Throughout the Gulf Coast region, United States Attorney’s Offices, the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, and federal criminal investigative agencies, with assistance from the National Center for Disaster Fraud, are prepared to handle these cases.

This website will allow you to find current information on the work and progress of federal law enforcement to combat oil-spill fraud.


#7440

BP Launches Gulf Claims Fraud Hotline: 1-855-NO-2-FRAUD | KATC.com |
http://www.katc.com/news/bp-launches-gulf-claims-fraud-hotline-1-855-no-2-fraud/

BP today launched the Gulf Claims Fraud Hotline to help protect the integrity of the claims processes relating to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Fraud Hotline is a reliable resource for people who want to do the right thing and report fraud or corruption. Reports should be made of any fraudulent or corrupt activity, no matter where in the claims process it occurs - whether in the solicitation of the claim by attorneys, accountants or other claims preparation services, the preparation of the financial records and claim application, or the processing of the claim - and no matter whether the claim was filed with BP, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), or the Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP).

The launch of the hotline comes as federal law enforcement officials are clamping down on cases of fraud and other abuses in the claims process. In recent months, U.S. attorneys in Florida, Alabama and Louisiana have secured guilty pleas and convictions against multiple individuals for attempting to defraud the claims process and take money to which they are not entitled under the law.
What’s more, in the face of troubling allegations of unethical and potentially criminal corrupt behavior within the CSSP itself, the Court has appointed Louis Freeh, former federal judge and Director of the FBI, as Special Master. Judge Freeh is leading an independent investigation of the CSSP with wide latitude to look for “possible ethical violations or misconduct.”

The launch of the Gulf Claims Fraud Hotline is particularly timely because the CSSP spends substantially less than the GCCF spent to combat fraud. This seems inappropriate given that the GCCF’s fraud detection program enabled it to identify more than 7,000 claims as “multi-claimant scams or even efforts at criminal fraud.” The GCCF referred more than half of these to the U.S.
Department of Justice for criminal investigation.
Anyone with knowledge of fraud or corruption should report it by dialing, toll-free, 1-855-NO-2-FRAUD 1-855-662-3728 All reports can be made anonymously.

Tips received through the Hotline will be reviewed and referred for further evaluation, if warranted, to fraud investigators at the CSSP, the National Center for Disaster Fraud, or other law enforcement agencies. Tips that lead directly to an indictment, a recovery of money paid, or the denial of a claim because of fraud or corruption may entitle the reporter to a reward.

While BP continues to take steps to stamp out fraud and corruption and assure the integrity of the claims process, the company remains committed to the Gulf and to the payment of legitimate claims for real losses. So far, BP has spent $14 billion on response and cleanup to help restore the environment. The company has also paid more than 300,000 claims totaling over $11 billion to help restore the Gulf economy.