Thursday, June 10, 2010

More on President Obama and the BP oil Disaster

This is a follow-up on my previous posting A Note On How President Obama Can Really Take Ownership of the BP Oil Disaster . The posting was about how the President is failing to take responsibility and ownership of the BP Oil Disaster. One issue is the Exxon Valdez agreement that with future spills, the company responsible will handle the clean up. In order to facilitate that, all oil drilling and transporters are required to submit a regional spill response plan. AP recently reviewed and released this response, which it turns out is hopeless flawed. The report included BP’s “go to” wild life specialist Peter Lutz, a research professor from the University of Miami; unfortunately he’s been dead for five years. The BP plan was criminally optimistic. It claimed that all the beaches would be safe, using computer models that there would only be a 21% chance that the oil would reach the Louisiana coast within a month; it took 9 days. BP said they would be able to suck up or remove 20 million gallons a day from the water; an amount 40 times what is leaking from the damaged well, and “The vessels in question (will) maintain the necessary spill containment and recovery equipment to respond effectively.” The BP plan to protect, ”sensitive biological resources”, listed walruses, sea otters, seal lions and seals; none of which exist in the Gulf. This has best been described by Sen. Bill Nelson (FL) who said, "The AP report paints a picture of a company that was making it up as it went along, while telling regulators it had full capabilities to deal with a major spill.” This plan was blindly signed off by the federal office of Minerals Management Service, run by an Obama appointee, Silvia Baca who was previously a senior manager for BP.

BP is obviously lost here and threatening to kick their ass is not going to clean up the oil. All BP can say is nothing like this has ever happened before, which is not true, but BP has no plan B. Forget BP for the moment; the President needs to take ownership to save the Gulf Coast. He could ask for help from those that have faced similar oil disasters, such as the Saudis; they are the world experts in this area and one of the few post Obama friends we still have.The President is fond of saying his expert, “Nobel Prize” winning Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, is on the job, keeping an eye on what is going on. The problem is Chu knows absolutely nothing about what he’s doing there. From the Department of Energy WEB site, "Prior to his appointment, Dr. Chu was director of DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and professor of Physics and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California. He successfully applied the techniques he developed in atomic physics to molecular biology, and since 2004, motivated by his deep interest in climate change, he has recently led the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in pursuit of new alternative and renewable energies. Previously, he held positions at Stanford University and AT&T Bell Laboratories." What is strangely missing is Chu's previously receiving a $500 million grant from Koonin when Koonin was at BP. Koonin then followed Chu to the Department of Energy. When BP was able to attach the containment cap on the damaged well, there was considerable oil flowing out of the pressure vents of the cap. Chu was dumbfounded asking, “Why is there still oil coming from the well?” Chu had no idea how the containment cap would work.

From "So for argument's (and BP's) sake, let's say that when BP charters the necessary tankers (and they will have to, eventually), the tanker broker makes them a deal for $450,000 a day. And let's say that BP orders up six tankers, and for a problem the size of the one they've created, these supertankers and their pumping and storage capacity are needed for six months. At that rate, six supertankers for six months comes to $494,100,000. Round up and call it a half-billion dollars; that will be the best half-billion BP every spent. But but former Shell Oil executive Hofmeister said he's been repeatedly turned away, and, once, a lawsuit was even threatened. Hofmeister thinks BP is turning a blind eye to their solution because they don’t want to tie up their supertankers in the cleanup efforts."

Recently we have discovered that BP wants to burn the 500,000 gals of oil it is capturing because it says it would be too dangerous to put it in tankers. From "Oil and gas siphoned from the well will flow up the rig, where it will be sent down a boom, turned into a mist and ignited using a burner designed by Schlumberger Ltd. BP opted to burn the oil because storing it would require bringing in even more vessels to the already crowded seas above the leaking well."

Two things seem brazenly clear here; First, BP has the super tankers to suck up the oil, but would rather sue then let the public know. Second, as I said in my previous blog, the direction BP is going with this oil leak disaster, is based on economics. BP does not appear to care what damage is done to the Gulf Coast. They continue to react with a criminally flawed plan, and the belief that nature will eventually take care of the problem on it's own. After all it was the Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, who said, the spill is not going to cause big problems because the gulf “is a very big ocean” and “the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest.”

We now know how our President reacts to a problem. First he blame-lays, so he will bear no responsibility (if all else fails blame Bush). Then he delegates a person to be responsible for the problem with little accountability. That way he can take credit if the problem is properly handled, but insulated enough so he will not be blamed for any failure. This may be the Saul Alinsky management style, but it is not leadership. And leadership is what is the US needs right now.

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