A summary of events Friday, June 25, Day 66 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.
BP said its effort to drill a relief well through 2½ miles of rock to stop the Gulf spill is on target for completion by mid-August. The relief well is considered the best hope of halting the crude that has been gushing since April 20 in the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The crew that has been drilling it since early May ran a test to confirm it is on the right path, using a tool that detects the magnetic field around the casing of the original, blown-out well.
Despite the encouraging news about the relief well, BP stock tumbled 6 percent in New York to a 14-year low on news that the oil giant has now spent $2.35 billion dealing with the disaster. BP has lost more than $100 billion in market value since its deep-water drilling platform blew up, and its stock is worth less than half the $60 or so it was selling for on the day of the explosion.
The first tropical depression of the Atlantic season formed in the Caribbean, raising concerns about what might happen to efforts to contain the oil if bad weather forces BP to abandon them. It's still too early to tell exactly where the storm might go and how it might affect oil on and below the surface of the Gulf. But BP would have to secure or move its equipment there if a storm blows in.
A financial disclosure report shows the Louisiana judge who struck down the Obama administration's six-month ban on deep-water drilling in the Gulf has sold many of his energy investments. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman still owns eight energy-related investments, including stock in Exxon Mobil Corp. Among the assets he sold was stock in Transocean, which owned the rig that exploded. The Justice Department asked a federal appeals court Friday to delay Feldman's ruling "to preserve the status quo" during the government's appeal.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis slammed BP — along with Massey Energy, owner of the West Virginia coal mine where 29 workers died in an explosion in April — saying they need better safety measures. "We are not saying go out of business," she said. "Do your job better. Make an investment in your employees. We want you to make a profit, but not at the expense of killing your employees."
Vice President Joe Biden will head to the Gulf on Tuesday to visit a command center in New Orleans and the oil-fouled Florida Panhandle.
The IRS said payments for lost wages from BP's $20 billion victims compensation fund are taxable just like regular income. Payments for physical injuries or property loss are generally tax-free.
Vicki Guillot has served her last seafood po-boy. The local bounty of fresh shrimp and oysters that once kept things bustling in the only restaurant in the rural Louisiana town of Gheens can no longer be harvested from the Gulf of Mexico because of the massive oil spill that has fouled the water. All her distributors can offer her now is imported shrimp at twice the price she was paying 10 weeks ago.
GEEK FIELD DAY
Louisiana State University's Edward Overton once published a research article with the tongue-tangling title, "Effectiveness of Phytoremediation and Bioremediation of n-Alknaes as a Function of the length of the Carbon Chain in Wetland Environments." He also holds a patent for something called a "Microstructure Chromatograph with Rectangular Column." But recently, the professor emeritus reached another milestone: He appeared on David Letterman's "Late Show" to talk in plain language about oil. Overton is one of scores of scientists who have toiled for years in obscurity and now find themselves in the middle of a media frenzy, trying to explain the Gulf oil spill to the public.