Oil Spill events on Tuesday, June 22,2010

A summary of events on Tuesday, June 22, Day 63 of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that began with the April 20 explosion and fire on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP PLC, which is in charge of cleanup and containment. The blast killed 11 workers. Since then, oil has been pouring into the Gulf from a blown-out undersea well.

MORATORIUM

The owner of the offshore rig involved in the massive Gulf oil spill sharply criticized the U.S. government’s six-month ban on deepwater drilling Tuesday. Transocean Ltd. president Steven Newman told reporters at an oil industry conference in London that President Barack Obama’s administration could let the business resume immediately. Transocean owns the Deepwater Horizon rig, which was run by British oil company BP PLC. An April 20 explosion on the rig killed 11 workers and set off the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. A federal judge in New Orleans is considering whether to lift the moratorium, imposed after the disaster began. Judge Martin Feldman said he will decide by Wednesday.

BRITAIN

Oil industry executives on Tuesday sharply criticized President Barack Obama’s six-month ban on deepwater drilling, saying the world did not have enough other sources of oil to eliminate using deepsea rigs. The massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico and the moratorium imposed by Obama dominated discussions at the World National Oil Companies Congress in the British capital, and a BP executive standing in for embattled BP CEO Tony Hayward was heckled by protesters.

$20 BILLION FUND

Kenneth Feinberg, tapped by the White House to run a $20 billion fund set up to help people harmed by the spill, pledged to speed payments. Feinberg, who ran the claim fund set up for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said BP has paid out over $100 million so far. Various estimates place total claims so far at more than $600 million.

TAXES

Out-of-work Gulf Coast shrimper Todd Pellegal spent his first $2,500 check from BP quickly, paying off bills and buying groceries for his family. He never even considered putting some of it away for taxes. Now he’s among the people up and down the Gulf Coast reeling from the oil spill disaster who are surprised — and frustrated — to find out the Internal Revenue Service may take a chunk of the payments BP PLC is providing to help them stay afloat. Many were already angry about how long the oil giant took to cut the checks. So when they got the money — generally about a few thousand dollars each so far — they spent it fast. Accountants have been trying to nail down the implications for thousands of taxpayers after President Barack Obama said BP would create a $20 billion disaster fund and provide another $100 million for oil workers who lose their jobs because of the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

SEA HOLLY

It looks dirty and muddy, a brown mass of weeds with gas-filled berries that allow it to float on the Gulf of Mexico’s waters. Sometimes it washes ashore, getting caught in the toes of barefoot beachgoers or stuck to the bottom of flip-flops. It appears to be just another sea plant. But this Sargassum algae — sometimes called sea holly or Gulf weed — is key to hundreds of species of marine life in the Gulf. Now, the oil is threatening to suffocate it, dealing a blow to fisheries and the ecosystem that scientists say may take years to recover. And as the algae dies in the Gulf, less of the vital plant will reach the Sargasso Sea — some 3,000 miles away through the loop current — potentially harming that ecosystem as well.

NEMS Daily Journal