Friday, July 15, 2011

Racketeering claims tossed in BP oil spill suit

BP to Adopt Voluntary Safety Standards in the Gulf of Mexico

The Deepwater Horizon rig blazing on April 21, 2010. 
United States Coast Guard, via Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesThe Deepwater Horizon rig blazing on April 21, 2010.
Green: Business
Seeking to assure federal regulators that it has learned the lessons of the Deepwater Horizon blowout and spill last year, BP said Friday that it would adopt strict new voluntary standards for any future drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico.
The company, which has already pledged some $40 billion in compensation for the accident, said it was prepared to go beyond new federal safety and environmental standards that apply to all companies operating in the gulf.
Federal regulators halted all drilling in the gulf after the April 2010 disaster, which killed 11 workers and spewed nearly five million barrels of oil before the runaway well was capped three months later. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement year began issuing new gulf drilling permits under strict new guidelines this year, but BP has not yet received permission to resume work on existing projects in the gulf or any new wells.
In a letter to the agency’s director, Michael R. Bromwich, BP’s chairman, Bob Dudley, said the company would go beyond all the new regulations if it is allowed to go back to work in the gulf.

“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,” Mr. Dudley wrote. “We believe the commitments we have outlined today will promote greater levels of safety and preparedness in deepwater drilling.”
Mr. Bromwich said he was glad that BP was taking these steps but they would not affect any decisions about future permits.
“We have established strong new safety and environmental standards that all operators are required to meet in order to operate on the Outer Continental Shelf,” Mr. Bromwich said in a statement. “We welcome additional safety steps and best practices that companies may decide to implement that are in addition to the requirements that are applied across the board.”
A federal official said that BP’s promises were not part of any sort to deal to allow the company to return to operations in the gulf.
In a statement, the company said it would require its wells in the gulf to use more robust subsea blowout preventers with two sets of so-called shear rams, which can stanch the flow of oil and gas up the drill bore in the case of an accident. The company also said it would use an independent contractor to verify the proper maintenance and operation of blowout preventers.
The blowout preventer on BP’s doomed Macondo well failed to function properly when a piece of drill pipe prevented the single shear ram from closing completely.Read more...

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