Fighting a losing battle with the sea
- Crumbling sea walls in the Northeast are expected to offer even less protection as sea levels rise.
BP will resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico as early as July
According the Financial Times report:
BP will resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico as early as July, less than 15 months after its disastrous accident there that killed 11 workers and led to the worst offshore disaster in US waters.
The UK oil group has struck a deal with US regulators under which it will be allowed to drill 10 existing wells that were under way before the accident and which it needs in order to maintain or increase production on existing platforms, according to sources familiar with the situation. BP declined to comment.
Above: The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns. April 21, 2010. Photo Credit: AP via MSNBC
Edit: this post originally stated that the photo was from April 21st, 2011. Obviously it isn’t since I can’t time travel. Thanks to Kateoplis for catching it.
Above: Ai Weiwei, being arrested in Sichuan, China, August 2009.
China’s best-known artist Ai Weiwei has been detained at Beijing airport this morning and police have surrounded his studio in the capital. His detention comes amid a wider crackdown on activists and dissidents, which human rights campaigners describe as the worst in over a decade.
“For an intellectual thirsty for freedom in a dictatorial country, prison is the very first threshold. Now I have stepped over the threshold, and freedom is near:” Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Imprisoned for inciting subversion of state power.
Below, Ai Weiwei tells the forbidden city to fuck off, and, by extension, those in power who defend the trampling of human rights with phrases such as “Asian values”.
Forces loyal to presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara reload weapons on the back of a pick up truck in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 02 April 2011. [Photo: EPA/LEGNAN KOULA]
Both pro-Gbagbo forces and pro-Ouattara forces are being blamed for the deaths in Duekoue. Ouattara rejected the allegations. Ban Ki-Moon called on Ouattara to investigate the massacre. [Reuters; BBC]
Ivorian refugees in Liberia say pro-Ouattara rebels are massacring Ivorians. [Guardian]
Pro-Gbagbo loyalists retook control of state TV offices in Abidjan Saturday. [AP]
Around 200 UN staffers were evacuated from their Abidjan headquarters on Sunday after repeated attacks from pro-Gbagbo forces. [Guardian]
AJE’s Azad Essa proposes two scenarios for the future of Coté d’Iviore. [AJE]
Simply a must-read.
On 10 April 2006, a DC-9 jet landed in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, on the Gulf of Mexico, as the sun was setting. Mexican soldiers, waiting to intercept it, found 128 cases packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100m. But something else – more important and far-reaching – was discovered in the paper trail behind the purchase of the plane by the Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel.
Since when is $100 million in confiscated cocaine only the preamble? The real story came from tracing the ownership of the plane. That paper trail and a 22-month investigation that followed lead to stunning revelations about one of America’s biggest banks.
Transocean Ltd., owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, awarded millions of dollars in bonuses to its executives after “the best year in safety performance in our company’s history,” according to an annual report and proxy statement released yesterday.
Eleven people were killed, including nine Transocean employees, in the April 20 explosion and collapse of the rig, which gushed crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 86 days.
“Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record as measured by our total recordable incident rate and total potential severity rate,” Transocean states in the filing. “As measured by these standards, we recorded the best year in safety performance in our Company’s history, which is a reflection on our commitment to achieving an incident free environment, all the time, everywhere.”
Transocean President and Chief Executive Officer Steven L. Newman received about $4.3 million in cash bonuses and stock and option awards. With other compensation—such as pension increases and cost of living, housing, and automobile allowances—Newman earned $6.6 million in 2010, almost $1 million more than in 2009.
His base salary, $900,000 in 2010, will increase 22 percent to $1.1 million in 2011.
Transocean built and staffed the Deepwater Horizon. It was leased by BP, which denied most executives bonuses in 2010. In justifying the bonuses, Transocean cites the increased burden on executives of responding to the spill:
Although in 2010 we made significant progress in achieving our strategic and operational objectives for the year, these developments were overshadowed by the April 20, 2010 fire and explosion onboard our semi-submersible drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, off the Louisiana coast that resulted in the deaths of 11 of our colleagues, including nine Transocean employees, and the uncontrolled flow of hydrocarbons from the well for an extended period (the ‘‘Macondo Incident’’). As a result, many of our senior executive officers… dedicated a significant portion of their time in 2010 following the Macondo Incident to responding to the needs of the victims’ families, coordinating the involvement of additional resources required to stem the flow of hydrocarbons, including drilling rigs and personnel to drill relief wells and other operations as requested by the Unified Area Command, cooperating with the numerous federal, state, and local reviews and investigations into the incident, overseeing our internal investigation of the incident, and managing other demands stemming from these activities, in addition to performing their normal responsibilities.
In the proxy, Transocean’s directors also ask shareholders to shelter “the Board of Directors and the executive management From liability for activities during fiscal year 2010.” The company is being sued by some shareholders for failing to monitor risk leading up to the spill.
Transocean contends it has no liability:
It remains our view that Transocean is contractually indemnified against all claims stemming from the environmental and economic impacts of the hydrocarbons spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from the Macondo well after the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon.”
At the other end of that contract, however, BP contends Transocean shares liability for the disaster.
The world’s largest builder and operator of oil rigs, Transocean was incorporated in the Cayman Islands but now keeps its executive offices in Vernier, Switzerland.
Transocean released its Annual Report and Proxy Statement midday Friday, and the bonuses were first reported by Sheila McNulty of The Financial Times (paywall).
There are no words for how outrageous this is. None.
Chinese artist Liu Bolin stands at the Grand Palais in Paris on Friday, April 1. Bolin, from Shandong, China, manages to camouflage himself in any surroundings, no matter how difficult they might be. Standing silently in front of his chosen scene, in locations all around the world, the 37-year-old artist uses himself as a blank canvas. (Bertrand Langlois / AFP - Getty Images)
When I first started working on this story, one of Sanders’s aides was careful to point out the ABC loans. Later, I took a closer look at the company and found that it was 59% owned by the Central Bank of Libya, which I found very odd, even by the generally insane standards of the bailout era. Why, I wondered, would the Federal Reserve be giving Muammar Qaddafi $26 billion in near-zero interest loans? Exactly how does that address America’s financial problems? What bailout plan could that possibly be part of? It gets weirder from there. Sanders’s office subsequently found out that ABC is not only exempt from Obama’s sanctions, it has two functioning branches here in New York City. In a letter he sent yesterday evening to Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency chief John Walsh (the banking regulator with purview over the New York branches), Sanders put it this way:
‘Why would the U.S. government allow a bank that is predominantly owned by the Central Bank of Libya – an institution on which the U.S. has imposed strict economic sanctions – to operate two banking branches within our own borders?’
Neither the Fed nor Treasury so far has offered explanations for these loans; the Treasury has so far only explained why ABC was not subject to sanctions and pointed to the March 4th order when I contacted them.