guardian.co.uk,June 2013 17.19 BST
Oil company Shell will resume talks next week in London with lawyers representing 15,000 of the poorest people in the world who are claiming millions of pounds’ compensation for oil spills on the Niger delta. But Martyn Day, of Leigh Day law firm which is acting for the communities, said the case could still go to a full high court trial in London in 2014.
Corporate Crimes the Villains gallery
Dedicated to those who do not have to serve jail time.
Dedicated to those with the money to buy justice.
Dedicated to those who have the wealth bypass their legal obligations
Dedicated to those who live without ethical obligations to their fellow man
Dedicated to those who destroy the planet for profit alone
Dedicated to the arms dealers who sell their weapons of destruction to all and sundry
Dedicated to all who have abandoned all sense of moral responsibility for what they do
Dedicated to those who look after the 1% of the world’s population
US government prosecutors spent the first day of a long-delayed trial into the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster arguing that corporate greed was the cause of the explosion that killed 11 people and created America’s worst offshore oil spill.
A tense day in a federal court in New Orleans saw all four companies involved in the disaster accused of systematically disregarding safety as they sought to extract oil from ever greater depths in the Gulf of Mexico. The Macondo well was called “the well from hell” by a worker, the court heard.
The US government is seeking fines of almost $18bn (£11.8bn) from BP. Its lawyers claimed the bulk of the blame for the disaster lay with the UK company. Most legal experts thought BP would settle with the government over the weekend, but the company has vigorously denied it was grossly negligent in the spill.
The first part of the trial will apportion blame for the disaster between BP; Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig; Halliburton, which cemented the well; and Cameron, the manufacturer of a piece of safety equipment designed to prevent a well from blowing up.
District Judge Carl Barbier said he expects the first part of the trial to last three months. Government lawyers insisted before the trial that evidence would prove their accusation that BP was grossly negligent, a finding that would see the oil giant fined the maximum amount under the US Clean Water Act.
In his opening statement, Mr Underhill cited an email sent from John Guide, who was BP’s manager of the Macondo well, to his manager, David Sims, four days before the explosion on April 2010.
In it, Mr Guide says that his team are “flying by the seat of our pants” and that pressure from above is creating “paranoia” as they pushed to complete a well that the US government claims was $50m over budget by the time it exploded.
In an email response read in court, Mr Sims replied that he was off to “dance practice”, where he would be dancing to the Village People.
BP, which is one of the largest deepwater drillers in the Gulf of Mexico, has always denied that it cut corners to speed up the lucrative flow of oil from the region.
However, Jim Roy, a lawyer representing local businesses damaged by the spill, said BP’s senior management had applied heavy pressure in early 2010 on its Gulf of Mexico operations to speed up production, because it needed to find another $7bn to help pay for a dividend to shareholders.
BP shares closed up 1.6pc at 451½p in London on Monday, but investors who wanted the oil giant to settle before the matter reached court may be bracing for a lengthy trial. BP has set aside $42.2bn to cover the cost of the spill. The trial continues.
LONDON—After his company agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges in connection with the Deep Horizon accident and oil spill, BP chief executive Bob Dudley released an official statement Thursday expressing his “profound and heartfelt remorse” over the loss of $4.5 billion in fines. “All of us at BP deeply regret any negligence on our part that may have led to this tragic oil spill and the tremendous damage it has inflicted upon our profitability,” Dudley said of the disaster that may eventually cost his company more than $40 billion in settlements and penalties. “We never intended to upset the incredibly delicate balance of our finances, and efforts to restore the billions of dollars lost in this unspeakable catastrophe will continue until we ensure ensure just compensation for every last shareholder.” Reached for further comment, Dudley told reporters that while he feels “tremendous sorrow over losing $4.5 billion,” he’s just thankful it only amounts to 1 percent of the company’s gross revenue for 2011.
William Hederman writes:
While more and more people understand that it is private companies rather than Ireland that will get rich from oil and gas discoveries here, there is still a stunning level of ignorance around this topic. Much of this comes from politicians and journalists.
Providence is controlled by Tony O’Reilly Jnr whose family owned about half of our news media, so you might expect coverage of the Dalkey drill to be better informed.
When Providence applied for the foreshore licence last January, one newspaper quoted a Dún Laoghaire businessman saying the project “could be a good for morale and a boost for the business community”.
If Providence does find oil beside Dalkey, the only morale boost the business community will get is by admiring the rigs and tankers from the shore.
Last year Providence explained to me that they would load the oil into tankers at the rig and probably ship it directly to a refinery in Britain or Holland.
There would be no jobs or investment onshore. The workers on the rig will fly in from Scotland and elsewhere.
The fact that the oil is unlikely to be supplied to the Irish market nullifies the “security of supply” argument.
And of course, oil finds will not reduce the price of petrol here. So let’s desist with the Dallas analogies please, newsdesks.
The only guaranteed benefit to Ireland is the 25% corporation tax rate on profits. However – and this is where the industry’s lobbying of Ray Burke 25 years ago really paid off – when calculating profits from the sale of our oil, Providence can write off the costs of all exploration anywhere in Irish waters in the previous 25 years.
The likely result of such tax write-offs is illustrated by a private study conducted for Shell in 2003.
It projected that the Corrib project would pay just €340 million in tax over its lifetime, this from a field that is now valued at up to €13 billion. (At the time of the study, the field was worth considerably less, but I estimate that €340 represented around 7% of the revenue Shell would generate by selling Irish gas back to the Irish consumer).
Economically, our oil fields might as well be in the South Pacific, but environmentally, the Dalkey drill is frighteningly close to the shore – much closer than would be allowed in other European countries.
Providence’s own Oil Spill Contingency Plan shows that a spill could reach the shores of Dublin in one hour. This drilling is in shallow water, with fast currents, hundreds of marine and bird species, next to Dublin’s greatest amenity: Dublin Bay.
All being put at risk to show that Ireland is open for business, even though that business will hardly benefit us.
William Hederman is a freelance journalist. His website is IrishOilandGas
Pic via CiaranCuffe.ie
via Dalkey And Oil |.