Thursday, June 24, 2010

BP Resumes Oil Siphon At Leak

BP resumes oil siphon at leak

Jeremy Pelofsky
Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:19am EDTFactboxesFactbox: Developments in

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - BP Plc resumed collecting oil from its leaking Gulf of Mexico well on Thursday after a temporary setback while a poll showed the environmental disaster is draining public confidence in U.S. President Barack Obama.

Beleaguered coastal fishermen, cut off for weeks from the rich Gulf fishing grounds, were allowed back in some waters, and the Obama administration forged ahead with its spill-related legal battles. In London, the new developments were sure to be eyed by investors after BP's share price ended Wednesday on a flat note for a change.

The Obama administration sought to keep one of its key responses to the catastrophe in play and late on Wednesday appealed a court ruling that blocked its six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling.

The worst oil spill in U.S. history has been thrust to the top of Obama's crowded domestic agenda but a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found half of those surveyed disapproved of his handling of the spill.

Overall Obama's rating stood at 45 percent in the poll, down 5 points from early last month. For the first time in the survey, more people, or 48 percent, say they disapprove of his job performance.

The government asked District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to put his ruling against the moratorium on hold pending the appeal. The court had ruled the drilling ban was too far-reaching and not adequately justified despite the spill.

The Justice Department said in its filing that the temporary moratorium only affected 33 active deepwater drills in the Gulf of Mexico and the harm from another potential oil spill far outweighed those interests.

The "suspensions were issued to prevent the risk of more loss of life and long-term environmental and economic devastation like that arising from the Deepwater Horizon accident. In contrast, (the companies) have demonstrated a risk of short-term economic harm."


In addition to the appeal, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he would revise his original order suspending drilling below 500 feet of sea level to make it more flexible and thus address the court's concerns.

The government imposed a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling after an offshore rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers and rupturing BP's well.

Meanwhile, BP was capturing oil and gas again after it gushed largely unchecked for much of Wednesday from the well after an undersea robot collided with a system intended to capture some of the gushing crude.

BP reinstalled the critical containment cap after several hours and the it resumed oil and gas collection at 8 p.m. EDT on Wednesday.

The cap system installed on June 3 captured 16,600 barrels

on Tuesday, BP said. A separate oil-flaring system that collected 10,500 barrels is still operating. A team of U.S. scientists estimate the leak is spewing between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels a day.

The spreading oil slick has shut down rich fishing grounds, killed hundreds of turtles and seabirds and dozens of dolphins and soiled the coastlines of four U.S. states.

Some Gulf fishermen had something to cheer for a change.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said late on Wednesday that it had opened 8,000 square miles of previously closed fishing grounds in the Gulf because no oil was seen in the areas.

The areas in question were south of Mississippi and off the coasts of Louisiana and central Florida. About 32.5 percent of federal waters in the Gulf remain closed, down from 36 percent previously.

(Additional reporting and writing by Ed Stoddard in Dallas; Editing by Jackie Frank)

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