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BP denies report of oil leak in Gulf

Feds probing source of sheen found recently by Coast Guard BP issued a quick and emphatic denial Thursday after reports began circulating on the Internet about new leaks in its Macondo well, source of a massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill last year."None of this is true," the British oil giant said in a statement in response to reports it had deployed boats and containment boom to the well site. It noted the well was capped in July of last year, permanently sealed in September, and continues to be monitored.BP also downplayed speculation that an oily sheen spotted elsewhere in the Gulf late last week was fed by leaks in two of its exploration wells, plugged years ago, in Green Canyon block 504 off the coast of central Louisiana.BP deployed remotely operated vehicles over the weekend to survey the two wells. One was confirmed to be secure. At the other, samples were taken of "silty water" found near the well head, but preliminary test results showed no trace of oil or natural gas, company spokesman Daren Beaudo said.Other companies with operations in the area, including Enterprise Products Partners and Shell Oil, also were notified by the Coast Guard about the ...

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Shell receives approval to drill at Gulf of Mexico Europa field

The permit will allow Shell to return all of its five contracted drilling rigs to work Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) said Thursday it has received approval from federal regulators to drill a new well at its Gulf of Mexico Europa field.The permit will allow Shell, one of the largest producers in the Gulf, to return all of its five contracted drilling rigs to work, a company spokeswoman wrote in an email.Shell and other companies slowed the pace of drilling in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico after the federal government imposed a nine-month drilling moratorium in the area following last year's BP PLC's (BP) Deepwater Horizonoil spill. The government resumed issuing permits in late February.The approval Shell received Thursday came from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement for a new well at Europa, a subsea field in nearly 4,000 feet of water. Production from Europa is tied to Shell's Mars tension-leg platform.The bureau oversees oil and gas drilling in federal waters.Source: Dow Jones Newswires

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New NOAA report highlights economic and ecological value of the Gulf coastal region

A new report released by NOAA The Gulf of Mexico at a Glance: A Second Glance, will provide coastal managers, planners, policy officials, and others with a reference to support regional decision-making and communications about the importance of healthy Gulf coastal ecosystems to a robust national economy, a safe population, and a high quality of life.The report, released by NOAA, in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,provides economic and ecological highlights about the Gulf's coastal communities, economy, and ecosystems. This report is an update to NOAA's original Gulf of Mexico at a Glance, published in June 2008.The updated version includes nineteen topics that reveal highlights about the region, such as changes in the Gulf's coastal population from 1970 to 2020, the impact the Gulf's coastal areas have on the U.S. economy, the extent of land-based and marine protected areas in the Gulf coast region, and the vulnerability of the Gulf coast to long-term sea level rise.Highlights of the report's summary facts include:Gulf Communities:Population in the 141 coastal watershed counties of the Gulf Coast Region, has increased 109 percent since 1970, compared to a 52 percent increase in total U.S. population.17 percent of the population in ...

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The dead zone of the Gulf of Mexico threatens seafood and tourism industries

The dead zone in the area is now 6,765 square miles wide Despite earlier predictions, scientists this week reported that the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone" did not hit an all-time record size. But the news was nothing to celebrate.The dead zone -- an area of water where oxygen is depleted, preventing any marine life from surviving -- is now 6,765 square miles wide. That's bigger than the state of Connecticut and one of the largest dead zones ever recorded in the Gulf (the dead zone has continued to grow since measuring began in 1985).The report by Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium is just the latest evidence for the need to invest in our natural resources or risk severe consequences to our jobs, economies and communities.Scientists had predicted this year's dead zone would be the largest on record due to the historic floods this spring that washed nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, from farm land, lawns, sewage treatment plants and other sources along the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico.If Tropical Storm Don hadn't hit the Gulf last week, whipping up waves and wind to temporarily re-supply oxygen to the water, the dead zone would likely have broken previous records.When ...

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Traders eye Gulf of Mexico Oil Tanker play

Storing oil in tankers offshore is on the rise again Storing oil in tankers offshore is on the rise again in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, a sign of traders' increased confidence in higher crude prices ahead.It's also a side effect of the flood of barrels from emergency stockpiles. The U.S. began releasing oil from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve in late July, and some of that is expected to spill over to offshore tankers from onshore tanks due to capacity constraints.What does it take for buying oil in the physical market, storing it aboard a chartered tanker and selling it forward to be a profitable trade? Low freight rates and a big enough difference in price between oil-futures contracts for near-term delivery and those for delivery further out in the future.On Friday, crude-oil futures for September delivery settled 1.8% lower at $95.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. October futures also ended down 1.8%, at a pricier $96.13 a barrel. Industry insiders refer to this situation-when the second-month oil contract is more expensive than the front-month-as "contango."Analysts say that 43-cent price difference is set to widen, as the influx of SPR crude drives down near-term prices."There's a view ...

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Agreement for spill response in the Gulf of Mexico

Between Hornbeck Offshore Services and Marine Spill Response Corporation Hornbeck Offshore Services, Inc. (NYSE:HOS) and Marine Spill Response Corporation (MSRC) have entered into a long-term agreement for spill response services in the Gulf of Mexico. Two U.S.-flagged 370 class multi-purpose support vessels (MPSVs) owned by Hornbeck Offshore are being retained by MSRC and equipped with dedicated spill response capability.The HOS Centerline and HOS Strongline are 370-ft vessels with 24,000 bbls of recovered oil capacity (30,000 bbls of total liquid storage capacity) based out of Port Fourchon, La. Each vessel is being outfitted with dedicated skimming systems, ocean boom and a support boat. The navigational systems on each vessel are also being enhanced with x-band and infrared oil spill detection systems that may increase the ability of the vessel crew to conduct skimming operations during times of adverse weather, low visibility and night operations.This contract is a continuation of the relationship that MSRC has developed with HOS as a part of MSRC's "Deep Blue" expansion program to significantly enhance the response capability in the Gulf of Mexico. MSRC has also expanded its capability to include a manned equipment site in Port Fourchon, LA, at Hornbeck Offshore's primary shore base facility, HOS ...

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New study of Gulf oil spill helps to explain where the oil went

Analysis shed more light Towering flames illuminated the pre-dawn darkness, casting shadows on the ship Ocean Intervention III as it floated over the sunken remains of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The resonant hum of helicopters fused with the roar of fires on either side of the ship, and Chris Reddy could feel the heat on his face.The night of June 21, 2010, Reddy and colleagues from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution were whisked off their research vessel Endeavor to collect samples directly from the blown Macondo well, which had been spewing oil and natural gas into the Gulf of Mexico for two months.They had 12 hours to do something that had never been done before: Use a robot arm to stick a special bottle directly into the hot hydrocarbons. Now, a year later, their analysis explains just what came out of the well, and sheds more light on what happened to it.It turns out that certain chemicals in the well behave differently under high pressure than they do at the surface. This explains why some chemicals, but not others, made their way into the huge 22-mile plume of oil that Reddy et. al uncovered last summer. It also explains ...

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2011 Gulf of Mexico dead zone could be biggest ever

Currently is about 3,300 square miles Researchers from Texas A&M University have returned from a trip to examine the scope and size of this year's "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico and have measured it currently to be about 3,300 square miles, or roughly the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, but some researchers anticipate it becoming much larger.Oceanography professor Steve DiMarco, one of the country's leading authorities on the dead zone, says the team of researchers journeyed more than 1,400 miles throughout the Gulf over a five-day period, the first ever focusing on the month of June.DiMarco says the size of the dead zone off coastal Louisiana has been routinely monitored for about 25 years. Previous research has also shown that nitrogen levels in the Gulf related to human activities have tripled over the past 50 years. During the past five years, the dead zone has averaged about 5,800 square miles and has been predicted to exceed 9,400 square miles this year, which would make it one of the largest ever recorded, according to the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.Hypoxia occurs when oxygen levels in seawater drop to dangerously low levels, and severe hypoxia can potentially result in ...

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Enhanced drilling standards in the Gulf of Mexico

A new set of deepwater oil and gas drilling standards will be implemented BP Exploration & Production Inc. (BPXP) will implement a new set of deepwater oil and gas drilling standards for its operations in the US Gulf of Mexico, demonstrating the company's commitment to safe and reliable operations.The announcement was made in a letter to the director of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), Michael Bromwich.The voluntary performance standards go beyond existing regulatory obligations and reflect the company's determination to apply lessons it learned from the Deepwater Horizon accident and subsequent oil spill."BP's commitment in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon incident is not only to restore the economic and environmental conditions among the affected areas of the Gulf Coast, but also to apply what we have learned to improve the way we operate," said BP group chief executive Bob Dudley. "We believe the commitments we have outlined today will promote greater levels of safety and preparedness in deepwater drilling."The foundations for these new voluntary standards for BP's Gulf of Mexico deepwater drilling operations have been developed since the Deepwater Horizon incident and through the lessons learned. BP is now making these standards public ...

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Gulf Dead Zone this year predicted to be the Largest in history

The largest recorded dead zone was found in 2002 Scientists predict this year's "dead zone" of low-oxygen water in the northern Gulf of Mexico will be the largest in history - about the size of Lake Erie - because of more runoff from the flooded Mississippi River valley.Each year when the nutrient-rich freshwater from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers pours into the Gulf, it spawns massive algae blooms. In turn, the algae consume the oxygen in the Gulf, creating the low oxygen conditions. Fish, shrimp and many other species must escape the dead zone or face dying.Federal and university scientists predict this year's zone will be between 8,500 square miles and about 9,400 square miles. The actual size of the dead zone will be measured over the summer.The largest recorded dead zone was found in 2002 when 8,400 square miles of the Gulf was found to lacking sufficient oxygen for most marine life.The forecasts on the size of the hypoxic zone are usually close to the mark, although hurricanes have chopped them up in the past.Eugene Turner, an oceanographer at Louisiana State University, said the dead zone has continued to get larger since it was first noticed and measured in ...

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