UPDATED: BP Ends Efforts To Install Blowout Preventer; Holder Announces DOJ Criminal Investigation

Attorney General Eric Holder announced a federal investigation of the Deepwater Horizon incident today. Federal agencies, including the FBI, ar

Attorney General Eric Holder announced a federal investigation of the Deepwater Horizon incident today.

Federal agencies, including the FBI, are participating in the probe and "if we find evidence of illegal behavior, we will be forceful in our response," Holder told reporters after meeting with state and federal prosecutors in New Orleans.

The Justice Department has already demanded that the companies involved in the spill, including BP, Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton Co., preserve records related to the accident.

It's been a long time coming. I don't think anyone has doubt there were corners cut and regulations ignored in this case.

But what bothers me is the report that I happened upon shortly after I heard about Holder's press conference.

Via Bloomberg:

BP Plc has decided not to attach a second blowout preventer on its leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico and efforts to end the flow are over until the relief wells are finished, according to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Thad Allen, who spoke at a press conference today.

So, I have a few more questions that are unanswered by this little blurb.

  • When was the decision made to scrap the effort on the second valve?
  • Was the decision related to news there would be a criminal investigation?
  • Was the decision related to orders not to destroy evidence down there on the ocean floor?
  • If BP's decision is unrelated to an ongoing criminal investigation, what specific factors caused them to abandon the effort?

If I find answers, I'll let you know. It's all too coincidental for my taste.

Update: This is from BusinessWeek:

BP Plc said it won’t be able to stop the flow of oil from a gushing well in Gulf of Mexico until August when a relief well can be finished, and in the meantime it will divert as much of the oil as it can to surface ships.

The diversion strategy, unlike capping the flow, is subject to disruption by tropical storms and hurricanes.

(snip)

BP is preparing for storms by installing a free-standing riser pipe later this month that will terminate 300 feet below the water’s surface. The pipe will have flexible coupling to allow tankers to depart ahead of a hurricane and safely return when seas have calmed, BP said today in a statement. The oil company didn’t say what happens to the flow of oil if the ship has to disconnect.

Update #2 5:45pm

I just saw a snippet of Wolf Blitzer on the Situation Room with Thad Allen that completely confuses me. It appears as though there are still efforts to cap the riser, though by Allen's own admission, it will not stop the flow entirely.

ADM. THAD ALLEN, U.S. COAST GUARD: Our concern right now is that we don't have the well capped. Therefore, there is a possibility in hurricane season, if we would have to go off station, that would cause more oil to be discharged. And we need to understand what are the conditions, how long can we stay out there, how quickly can we redeploy back, and do we have a way to do things like treat the oil that would be coming out with subsea dispersants. And both plans are being requested and they're being developed by British Petroleum right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's bring in CNN's David Mattingly, who's on the scene for us, as he has been almost from day one.

This continues to be, David, a real mess with no guaranteed end in sight.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Admiral Allen is essentially laying it all out for us. We could be looking at a very long and oily summer. Even though we are going through the minutia today, watching B.P. as they attempt to put some type of capping device on that leaking well, Allen very clear to say that all of these are just containment options and these options are not going to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, we're going to see oil escaping into the Gulf all the way up until August when they complete the relief well and finally seal this well off.

I approached Allen after the press conference and asked him for some clarification. There are two different types of domes or caps they're looking at right now. I asked him what happens if both of these fail...[read the rest]

Update #3

Here's a transcript of the Thad Allen presser. What I take away is this. No second blowout preventer. Ongoing effort at LMRP Cap procedure. That procedure will NOT stanch the flow entirely. There will be a leak, but a smaller one. They will need to continue to pump oil up and out to keep the pressure stable.

Are you completely boggled yet?

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