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DEEPWATER HORIZON SPILL
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May 14, 2010

Obama calls finger pointing by execs "ridiculous spectacle"

It has not been a good week in the media for BP, Transocean, Halliburton or Cameron. At Congressional hearings, executives of the first three of those companies indulged in what was widely condemned by the media as finger pointing. And the Deepwater Horizon blowout preventer, manufactured by Cameron, was the subject of worrying revelations at a House hearing.

"I did not appreciate what I considered to be a ridiculous spectacle during the congressional hearings into this matter," said President Barack Obama. "You had executives of BP and Transocean and Halliburton falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else. The American people could not have been impressed with that display, and I certainly wasn't."

In a statement released today (see video), President Obama also alluded two other issues brought to light in media reports.

When BP finally released tape of the plume of oil and gas issuing from the leak site, NPR took it to experts whose findings suggest the spill is already far larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska, which spilled at least 250,000 barrels of oil. Steven Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, analyzed videotape of the seafloor gusher using a technique called particle image velocimetry. He came up with a value for the rate of the oil spill: 70,000 barrels a day -- much higher than the official estimate of 5,000 barrels a day. The method is accurate to a degree of plus or minus 20 percent, says NPR. Thus, the amount of material spewing from the pipe could range from 56,000 barrels to 84,000 barrels a day. It is important to note, says NPR, that it's not all oil. The short video BP released starts out with a shot of methane, but at the end it seems to be mostly oil.

Today, the New York Times reported "The federal Minerals Management Service gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without first getting required permits from another agency that assesses threats to endangered species and despite strong warnings from that [NOAA] agency about the impact the drilling was likely to have on the Gulf."

"Those approvals, federal records show, include one for the well drilled by the Deepwater Horizon rig."


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