Posts tagged ‘Mexico’

Gulf of Mexico oilspill spreads as well leaks

(Reuters) – An oil spill from a leaking underwater well grew to cover 1,900 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico on Monday as the U.S. Coast Guard scrambled to keep the slick from reaching the fragile Gulf Coast shoreline.

The well, 5,000 feet under the ocean surface off Louisiana’s coast, is leaking about 1,000 barrels of oil a day. The spill, which the U.S. Coast Guard has called “very serious,” has put the coasts of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Florida on alert for potential oil contamination.

Swiss-based Transocean Ltd’s Deepwater Horizon sank on April 22, two days after it exploded and caught fire while finishing a well for BP Plc about 40 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

As of Monday afternoon, there were no impacts to the shore and the spill remained about 30 miles off the Louisiana coast at least three days from landfall, said Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry.

Wildlife impact was said to be minimal. An aircrew from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Sunday spotted three sperm whales near the spill but they did not appear affected, officials said.

The incident casts a pall over the oil industry’s push for access to more offshore acreage in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and along the East Coast, and comes just weeks after President Barack Obama unveiled plans for a limited expansion of U.S. offshore oil and gas drilling.

In an attempt at a quick fix, U.S. agencies this weekend deployed four remotely operated underwater vehicles to dive unmanned to the ocean floor to try to activate a balky blowout preventer, a 450-ton tangle of pipes and valves that usually works automatically.

If that plan fails, London-based BP, which owns the oil well and is financially responsible for the cleanup, will have to drill one or more relief wells into the damaged well bore under the seabed to intercept the flow.

The drilling effort could take several months, and BP is pursuing an interim plan to build as many as two dome-shaped covers to place over the well that could capture oil and pipe it to the surface before it can add to the spill. That could be done in two to four weeks, officials estimated.

“This is state-of-the-art technology,” said Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of BP’s exploration and production unit. Such containment and removal systems have been used in shallower waters but never at such depths.

Eleven workers from the rig are missing and presumed dead in what is the worst oil rig disaster in almost a decade. The Coast Guard on Friday suspended a search for the workers.

The spill is not comparable with the infamous Exxon Valdez disaster, which spilled about 11 million gallons (50 million liters) of oil into the Prince William Sound in Alaska when it ran aground in 1989. BP’s well is spewing about 42,000 gallons (190,900 liters) of oil a day into the ocean, the Coast Guard estimates.

Tony Hayward, chief executive of London-based BP — which is financially responsible for the clean-up — traveled to the area over the weekend to oversee operations and meet with the governors of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Stormy weather over the weekend hampered cleanup efforts for BP, which has deployed an armada of ships and aircraft to contain the oil slick. In a statement, Hayward on Monday said BP was accelerating cleanup as the weather improved.

“The improved weather has created better conditions for our response,” Hayward said. “This, combined with the light, thin oil we are dealing with has further increased our confidence that we can tackle this spill offshore.”

BP’s shares fell 2 percent on Monday on fears that the spill could lead to a big financial hit. BP has not given a detailed accounting of spending or potential liability to date.

Transocean’s Chief Executive Steven Newman also traveled from Switzerland to Louisiana to support the effort.

Transocean said its insurance covers the total loss of the Deepwater Horizon and wreck removal, and that the rig has an insured value of $560 million.

The explosion occurred as the rig was capping a discovery well pending production, company officials said. Some 115 of the 126 workers on board at the time of the explosion were rescued.

(Writing by Chris Baltimore; Editing by David Gregorio)

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April 27, 2010 at 9:56 AM Leave a comment

New climate talks set for 2010 in Cancun, Mexico

Delegates from 175-nations agreed on two extra sessions of U.N. climate control talks this year at the end of a tortuous meeting in Bonn that presaged big battles ahead over the non-binding Copenhagen Accord.

The Copenhagen Accord seeks to limit a rise in average world temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) over pre-industrial times but does not spell out how.

Reached at a fractious U.N. climate summit in December, the accord was strongly backed by Washington and bitterly opposed by some developing nations, though it also holds out the prospect of $100 billion climate aid a year from 2020.

“This process has big problems,” said Annie Petsonk of the U.S.-based Environmental Defense Fund, at the end of the meeting in Bonn.

The session had been due to end on Sunday, but delegates wrangled deep into the night over a two-page plan to guide negotiations, with several hours spent on the wording of what appeared to be uncontroversial phrases.

The final text skirted one of the biggest problems — the fate of the Copenhagen Accord. The December summit had disappointed many by failing to come up with a binding treaty.

“We have just about worked out the procedural kinks — save the big one, which is what to do about the way in which we will respond to the Copenhagen Accord,” Dessima Williams of Grenada, chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, told Reuters.

The accord was not mentioned by name in the Bonn workplan.

Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe of Zimbabwe, who chaired the U.N. talks and will draw up new draft texts by May 17, said the phrasing had a “constructive ambiguity…to me it seems to cover the work that was done to produce the Copenhagen Accord.”

The Accord has backing from almost 120 of 194 member states, including top emitters China, the United States, the European Union, Russia and India.

It faces opposition led by countries such as Bolivia, Cuba, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Some developing nations complained that rich countries pledged insufficient action under the Accord to stop disaster for millions of people from floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising seas.

By contrast, Saudi Arabia fears a shift from oil to renewable energies.

Bolivia said that the Bonn meeting had ruled the Accord out of negotiations that will culminate in a ministerial meeting in Mexico in November and December.

“Despite continual attempts by the U.S. to make the completely unacceptable Copenhagen Accord the basis for future negotiations, I am glad to say they failed,” said Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s chief delegate.

The U.N.’s top climate official, Yvo de Boer, said he did not expect a breakthrough to achieve a new treaty in Mexico.

For a $125 billion carbon market, failure to agree a global legally binding deal would be “regrettable” but tough national policies were more important, said one expert.

“It is cap and trade which is driving this market,” said Andrei Marcu, head of regulatory and policy affairs at oil trading firm Mercuria.

Cap and trade schemes control industrial carbon emissions by forcing companies to buy from a fixed quota of emissions permits.

A European scheme is at the center of a carbon market which could grow significantly if the United States passes a climate bill this year.

“I’m looking very much to what the U.S. will do,” said Marcu, who was upbeat that the Bonn meeting had re-launched talks which “fell apart” in Copenhagen.

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April 12, 2010 at 8:44 AM Leave a comment

Four nations outline “green fund” plan for U.N. deal

Four nations proposed guiding principles for “green funds” on Wednesday, hoping to end deadlock at U.N. talks on ways to manage billions of dollars to help the poor cope with global warming.

“Financing will need to be scaled up significantly and urgently, starting fast and rising over time,” Britain, Australia, Mexico and Norway said in a joint submission to the December 7-18 meeting in Copenhagen on a new U.N. climate pact.

They said that at least 50 percent of any public finance should go to helping developing countries adapt to warming such as droughts, floods or rising sea levels, along with funds to help curb rising emissions.

But a document by the four nations did not set any figure for total funds to help developing nations. The United Nations says that it wants $10 billion a year for 2010-12 to help kick-start a deal with far more cash toward 2020.

It estimates that the total bill for fighting global warming may reach $300 billion a year in the long run, such as shifting away from fossil fuels toward green energies such as wind or solar power.

“We need predictable long-term funding,” said Hanne Bjursrom, a Norwegian cabinet minister who heads the Norwegian delegation. “But this isn’t a document that says ‘this and this is how it should be done’.”

She said the paper marked progress because it was proposed by three developed nations with Mexico, one of the richest nations among developing nations.

COSTS, EMISSIONS

Disputes over who should pay the costs are one of the main causes of friction at the U.N. talks, along with splits about how far developed nations should cut emissions by 2020. Poor nations want much deeper cuts than those on offer.

The document noted that Mexico has in the past suggested that all countries should pay into a fund that would be raised based on factors including gross domestic product, population, and use of carbon dioxide.

The document also mentioned a Norwegian proposal that some carbon emission allowances could be auctioned off to raise cash.

It said that there was an “emerging consensus” that any funds should be overseen by a high-level board with equal representation of poor and rich nations.

Developing countries accuse the rich of seeking to tie too many strings onto handouts. Rich nations want to ensure they have good oversight of donor funds.

December 10, 2009 at 10:23 AM Leave a comment


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