Monday, May 10, 2010

Senate Energy & Environment Hearings on Gulf Oil Spill

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Hearing on Gulf Oil Spill 10 a.m.

Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Hearing on Gulf Oil Spill 2:30 p.m.

The purpose of the hearing is to review current issues related to offshore oil and gas development including the Department of the Interior’s recent five year planning announcements and the accident in the Gulf of Mexico involving the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon.


Panel 1

Dr. F.E. Beck , Associate Professor, Texas A&M University
Mr. Danenberger , Former Chief, Offshore Regulatory Program, Minerals Management Service

Panel 2

Mr. Lamar McKay , President and Chairman , BP America, Inc.
Mr. Steven Newman , President and Chief Executive Officer, Transocean Limited
Mr. Tim Probert , President, Global Business Lines; Chief Health, Safety and Environmental Officer, Halliburton

Tthe companies are all blaming each other for the April 20 Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion and oil spill that also killed 11 people. Establishing blame will surely end up in court but many questions will be posed and answered at a serious of congressional hearings on the disaster. BP faces dozens of lawsuits for damages. But they might not be alone. BP America, Inc owns the well; Transocean owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon rig; and Halliburton was hired to cement the well. BP is blaming a failure of the Transocean's blowout preventer for the accident. Yet, determining why the equipment failed to work is critical because it was the fail-safe in case of an accident. Transocean is putting the blame on subcontractors working under BP's direction.

According to BP, the explosion occurred "after the well construction process was essentially finished." But Transocean is blaming the blowout on a failure of the well's lining, speculating that the blowout was caused by "a sudden, catastrophic failure of the cement, the casing or both." The casing is the area in the hole outside the pipe. Transocean is contradicting BP's assertion that the final blame must fall to the blowout preventer because at the point that the blowout occurred, "the well barriers—the cementing and the casing—were responsible for controlling any pressure from the reservoir."

According to Halliburton, its workers did not set a cement well plug before the blowout and explosion. Halliburton also contends that they had finished cementing the casing area outside the pipe and had not yet been able to set a cement plug to block the pipe before the explosion. Such a plug is necessary before the well could be temporarily closed. BP planned to close the well for a time while it devised a plan to bring it into production and start pumping oil. Finally, BP contends that "Prior to the point in the well construction plan that the Halliburton personnel would have set the final cement plug, the catastrophic incident occurred." [quotes from Senate testimony] (WSJ, 5/11/10)

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding a hearing titled, "Economic and Environmental Impacts of the Recent Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico,” to examine issues surrounding the oil spill in the Gulf, including the impact on the economy and the environment. In addition to testimony from several corporations involved in the spill, including BP, Halliburton and Transocean, witnesses will also include experts on the impacts to local economies, fisheries and tourism, as well as wildlife and natural resources. Senators from the coastal states are also expected to provide testimony.


Panel 1

Lamar McKay Chairman and President BP America
Steven L. Newman President and CEO Transocean Ltd.
Tim Probert President, Global Business Lines, and Chief Health, Safety and Environmental Officer, Halliburton

Panel 2

Dr. Steve Bortone Executive Director Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
Garret Graves Director Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities, State of Louisiana
Keith Overton CHA Chairman of the Board, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, TradeWinds Island Resorts
Dr. Eric May, Research Scientist, Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center, Department of Natural Sciences University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Meg Caldwell JD Director, Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Program; Executive Director, Center for Ocean Solutions, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University
Lieutenant General Thomas G. McInerney United States Air Force (Ret.)

No comments: