Monday, July 12, 2010

Cap Stack Monday: July 12 BP Oil Spill Update

1. Oilcast.

Ocean Circulation Group at the University of South Florida has an oilcast animation showing the projected spread of oil through Wednesday, July 14. It doesn't look good to see the black ooze off Pensacola Beach doubling and turning red.

We selected three static screenshots (click on above graphic). (All times are UTC, or -5 hrs. CDT) To see the full animation, click here.

2. Buffetmania.

Jimmy Buffett's beach concert drew "a sea humanity" estimated at 35,000 fans:
Buffett focused squarely on delivering his good-time music rather than using the occasion to stand on the soapbox about the spill. He did, however, slip in the line that "it's all BP's fault" during "Margaritaville," to a tremendous ovation.
The Mobile Register covers the event like oil sheets on water, with news lots of articles, commentary, photos, and videos.

Now back to our regularly-scheduled soapbox.

3. Spill Commissioners on the Beach.

Two members of President Obama's "National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling" and the state governor visited the Panhandle Sunday. Leading the tour was former U.S. Senator Bob Graham, co-chairman of the commission.

The two commission members spent part of the afternoon on Pensacola Beach listening to residents, business owners, and local politicians. Thyrie Bland covered it for the PNJ:
The meeting with former Florida governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and Terry Garcia, executive vice president for mission programs for the National Geographic Society, was held at Pensacola Beach in the Santa Rosa Island Authority building.
Before settling in at the SRIA meeting room, Sen. Graham, Garcia, and Governor Charlie Crist "toured parts of the Florida Panhandle... to get feedback from residents and officials affected by the spill." Business owners tallied their personal losses, politicians talked about wanting more local control, and everybody complained about slow or no reimbursement from BP Corp.

The various meetings were unofficial, probably a fact-finding courtesy extended to Sen. Graham out of respect for concern about his home state. Other members of the commission weren't in attendance.

The SRIA's Buck Lee's singular contribution to the discussion, according to the newspaper, was a "sarcastic" line so common it has become a cliché: "You want al-Qaida cleaning up after 9-11?"

He might as well have asked how we feel about an indicted county commissioner being put in charge.

A small knot of protesters also attended the meeting. [Click for video.] Sen. Graham "chatted with them briefly," Bland reports. While almost everyone else was obsessed with their own wants and needs, protester Terry Holley of Pensacola focused on the large issue:
"The big message is a clean energy alternative for the future. If this is not a reason to do that, then there is never going to be a reason."
The full seven-member commission moves on today to New Orleans for two days of hearings. The Times-Picayune reports:
Monday's hearing will mainly be a status report from Coast Guard and BP representatives about the progress and challenges of the cleanup and containment efforts that have dragged on for nearly three months. The second meeting Tuesday will focus on fishers, oil industry workers, hotel operators and others in coastal communities hurt by the spill and the resulting forced stoppage of deepwater drilling.
You can follow the proceedings live on C-Span.

4. Cap Stack Exchange.

The cap-exchange that began this weekend is going well so far, we're told. But for the Gulf of Mexico this is looking a lot like "the operation was a success, but the patient died." The oil is now gushing virtually unimpeded.

CBS News' Mark Strassman yesterday offered a balanced report. He explains the negatives as well as the positives:



On the other hand, NPR's science reporter Richard Harris today positively gushes over it all. To hear him tell it, BP Corp. is engaged in the most exciting science since NASA landed men on the moon:




Among other omissions, Harris neglects to report that the "second pipe" seen on videos for some time, now, apparently has disappeared:

Earlier video had shown two pieces of drill pipe in the stub — one that should have been there and another that ended up there after the blowout.

"We don’t know where the second piece of pipe has fallen to," BP's vice-president told the Times.
5. BP Bankruptcy?

Hard-to-pin down rumors revived last week that BP might well take a "strategic bankruptcy," even as the oil mega-corporation's stock rose. The New York Times had the story in Saturday's edition.

Short-sellers trying to spook the market? Or, yet another cunning corporate business plan to shuck off consumer-victims and reemerge stronger than ever?

Sunday, the London Times reported what seems like a much more immediate prospect: BP apparently is in talks to sell a part of its Prudhoe Bay and Argentinian oil field rights to Houston-based Apache Corporation:

Reports on Sunday said the company was in talks to sell up to 12 billion dollars of assets, including a substantial stake in a giant Alaskan oil field, to its rival Apache Corporation.

Apache approached BP several weeks ago with the plan which would include a stake in Prudhoe Bay, the largest oil field in North America, the Sunday Times reported.

The Sunday Times also said BP wants to sell its 60-percent share in Pan American Energy, an Argentinian oil producer.
"Chinese oil giant PetroChina has indicated it would "welcome" closer ties with BP," too. "Closer" as in a strangle-hold, we suppose. There is no honor among these environmental predators.

P.B. video link added 7-12 am

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