National Fisherman


BP Plc and Transocean Ltd. officials on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig botched safety tests the night it blew up and sent oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, an oil-drilling expert said.

The rig’s crew misinterpreted results of negative pressure tests done April 20, 2010, that showed the Macondo well was unstable, Richard Heenan, a Canadian engineer who has supervised off-shore drilling projects, told a judge yesterday in a trial over spill claims. The U.S. government contends the botched tests led to the blast, which killed 11 workers and sent more than 4 million barrels of oil spewing into the Gulf.

“I couldn’t believe, based on what I saw, that the people on the rig came to the conclusion that this was a successful test,” Heenan told a federal judge yesterday in New Orleans. The handling of the check “was a gross and extreme departure” from accepted oil-industry standards, he said.

After hearing evidence in the three-month trial, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier will decide who is liable for damages over the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

He will also rule on whether BP, Transocean or other companies were grossly negligent in their handling of the rig and well. His ruling in the nonjury trial will affect how much each company may have to pay.

Robert Dudley, BP’s chief executive officer, said yesterday at an oil conference in Houston that his company is “safer” and “stronger” almost three years after the spill, and he praised BP’s response to the disaster.

Read the full story at Bloomberg>>

Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

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Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

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