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Two years after BP oil spill, offshore drilling still poses risks

Actions need to be taken around the second anniversary of the disaster Two years after a blowout on BP's Macondo well killed 11 men and triggered the largest oil spill in U.S. history, oil companies are again plying the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.Forty-one deep-water rigs are in the gulf. The vast majority of them are drilling new holes or working over old ones, while the other behemoths are idle as they await work or repairs. A brand new rig - the South Korean-built Pacific Santa Ana, capable of drilling to a depth of 7.5 miles - is on its way to a Chevron well.But three recent incidents in other parts of the world show just how risky and sensitive offshore drilling remains.In the North Sea, French oil giant Total is still battling to regain control of a natural gas well that has been leaking for nearly four weeks. Meanwhile, Brazil has confiscated the passports of 11 Chevron employees and five employees of drilling contractor Transocean as they await trial on criminal charges related to an offshore oil spill there. And in December, about 40,000 barrels of crude oil leaked out of a five-year-old loading line between a floating ...

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BP Spill Fight Looms With Feds, Despite Settlement Of Private Claims

BP has finalized a $7.8 billion settlement with more than 100,000 businesses and individuals harmed BP has finalized a $7.8 billion settlement with more than 100,000 businesses and individuals harmed by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, just days before the second anniversary of the rig explosion that triggered one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, the company said Wednesday.The settlement covers private economic losses and medical claims tied to the spill and will compensate fishermen, hoteliers and thousands of other businesses and individuals on the Gulf.In a statement, Robert Dudley, BP's chief executive, said the payout offered those affected by the catastrophe "full and fair compensation, without waiting for the outcome of a lengthy trial process."Yet legal experts said the settlement with the private plaintiffs, while significant, represents a relatively minor step for the company in the resolution of the spill litigation. Still looming is a massive civil trial that pits BP and its corporate partners on the doomed Deepwater Horizon rig against the federal government and a half-dozen Gulf states, as well as possible federal criminal charges related to the disaster.Federal and state claims could yield penalties and fines totaling as much as $60 billion, ...

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Oil Spill Commission Action Group Gives Congress Low Grades For Regulatory Reform On Drilling

Two years after BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster Two years after BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig foundered and sank in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 crew members and unleashing an 87-day torrent of oil that soiled surrounding beaches and poisoned delicate coral reefs, a pair of assessments paint a somewhat bleak picture of the subsequent regulatory reform.Following the BP spill, which was set in motion on April 20, 2010, President Barack Obama established an investigatory body -- the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling -- that was charged with determining the cause of the accident and recommending steps to make offshore energy development more safe.In January 2011, that commission issued a final report outlining a variety of "critical" safety recommendations. The panel disbanded two months later.On Tuesday, a group of former members of that commission, now calling itself Oil Spill Commission Action, issued an assessment of the government's implementation of those suggestions.The group -- which includes former Democratic Senator from Florida Bob Graham, Natural Resources Defense council president Frances G. Beinecke and Cherry A. Murray, the dean of Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, among others -- said that while ...

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