Readers may recall that we harped on BP’s refusal to try to contain oil around the site of the leak, and later, its failure to do proper booming to contain and remove oil and so reduce the amount that came ashore (note that the US also failed abjectly as a second line of defense; the Coast Guard did cosmetic, ineffective booming and the US turned down advice and assistance from the Netherlands, which has world class expertise).
Per McClatchy (hat tip Doc Holiday), now appears to have put in place a slow, bureaucratic process as a way to cover for the fact that it isn’t very keen about hiring skimmers (boats outfitted to collect oil offshore) since it’s cheaper for them to remediate onshore, even though the damage is greater. BP may well be betting on the fact that, in contrast to its slow environmental response, it has been lightening fast on the legal front, and already locked up experts plaintiffs would typically hire to sue BP.
From Washington to the Gulf, politicians and residents wonder why so few skimming vessels have been put to work soaking up oil from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.
Investment banker Fred D. McCallister of Dallas believes he has the answer. McCallister, vice president of Allegiance Capital Corp. in Dallas, has been trying since June 5 to offer a dozen Greek skimming vessels from a client for the cleanup.
“By sinking and dispersing the oil, BP can amortize the cost of the cleanup over the next 15 years or so, as tar balls continue to roll up on the beaches, rather than dealing with the issue now by removing the oil from the water with the proper equipment,” McCallister testified earlier this week before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “As a financial adviser, I understand financial engineering and BP’s desire to stretch out its costs of remediating the oil spill in the Gulf. By managing the cleanup over a period of many years, BP is able to minimize the financial damage as opposed to a huge expenditure in a period of a few years.”…
A report released Thursday by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform included a photo depicting “a massive swath of oil” in the Gulf with no skimming equipment in sight. The report concluded: “The lack of equipment at the scene of the spill is shocking, and appears to reflect what some describe as a strategy of cleaning up oil once it comes ashore versus containing the spill and cleaning it up in the ocean.”…
BP spokesman Beaudo said McCallister was notified his offer of skimming vessels has been declined because the vessels will not pick up heavy oil near shore. Beaudo said he did not know when McCallister was informed. McCallister said he received communications from BP on Thursday that indicated his proposal was still under review. In fact, he sent supplemental material Thursday, which was accepted, to show the skimming vessels will pick up heavy oil like that bombarding Mississippi’s coastline. The 60-foot vessels, he said, can skim high-density crude up to 20 miles offshore. Equipment on board separates the oil from water…
“Just because it’s a skimmer doesn’t mean it’s effective,” Malvaney [who heads the Mississippi Coast cleanup effort for BP subcontractor U.S. Environmental Services] said. “There’s a lot of people out there saying, ‘We’ve got skimmers.’ Some are effective, some are not. That’s what we’re trying to wade through right now.”
Yves here. At a minimum, this is clearly a company utterly lacking in the sense of urgency that this disaster warrants. And as McCallister contends, it is probably by design.