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Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

Drug cartels disrupt basic services in Mexico

In Uncategorized on November 7, 2010 at 9:20 am

Mexico seizes 105 tonnes of marijuana

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2010 at 4:22 pm

 Mexican authorities seized over 105 tonnes of marijuana in the border town of Tijuana after a clash with drug traffickers, in the largest such seizure in recent years, the military said.

Over 10,000 packages of marijuana were seized, weighing in at some 105 tonnes, and 11 people were arrested in the operation, General Alfonso Duarte told reporters.

The drugs had a value of around 335 million dollars on the Mexican street, but their worth could double or triple if sold in the United States, where the traffickers had been attempting to enter, Duarte said.

File photo shows a Mexican Federal Police agent patrolling the streets of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

It is the largest seizure in years amid an increasingly brutal war on drug cartels that has seen some 28,000 deaths since President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown in 2006 with the deployment of 50,000 troops.

Mexico’s border regions, especially the major towns directly on the US frontier, have witnessed the brunt of the conflict with notable spikes in particularly gruesome violence in Tijuana — neighboring California — and Ciudad Juarez, which borders Texas further to the east.

In Mexico’s notorious border city of Ciudad Juarez, gunmen burst into a private party and shot dead nine people, including six members of one family, security officials said Monday.

Four people died on the spot, two others died in hospital, and the remaining two were hunted down by the gunmen and shot dead near the airport, police said of the late Sunday slaughter.

Nine others were killed in separate attacks in the past 24 hours in Mexico’s most violent city, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, police said.

Some 6,500 people have died in Ciudad Juarez in the past three years in killings blamed on turf wars between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug gangs and their hitmen over lucrative smuggling routes into the United States.

More than 28,000 people have died nationwide in suspected drug violence since December 2006, when the government launched an offensive against the gangs with the deployment of some 50,000 troops.

Source: SGGP

US lifts Gulf of Mexico deepwater drilling ban

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2010 at 8:10 am

The United States lifted a ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico imposed after the BP oil spill, but set operators tough new safety conditions, officials said.

“We have decided it is now appropriate to lift the suspension on deepwater drilling for those operators that are able to clear the higher bar that we have set” for safety, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.

President Barack Obama ordered a six-month freeze on deepwater offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico shortly after a blowout on the BP Deepwater Horizon undersea well that killed 11 rig workers and sparked the worst oil disaster in US history.

The moratorium was due to expire at the end of next month.

Oil rigs are seen in the Gulf of Mexico in August 2010.

The new rules, which were laid out by the Interior Department two weeks ago, toughen up companies’ obligations on drilling and workplace safety, well containment and spill response, said Salazar.

Key among the tough new rules is an obligation for the CEO of any company wishing to drill in deep water to “certify that the rig has complied with all new and existing rules,” he said.

Executives from the companies involved in the BP-leased well that blew out have blamed each other for the accident which happened some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Louisiana.

But even if the moratorium was being lifted, deepwater drilling was not expected to resume soon, said Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM).

Oil and gas companies need time to implement the new rules and draw up applications for offshore leases “and it will obviously take us time to review those applications and do due diligence,” said Bromwich.

American Petroleum Institute president Jack Gerard welcomed the lifting of the drilling ban but worried that “a de facto moratorium could be created by delays in the processing and approval of permits, which will reduce production, government revenues and American jobs.”

Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana, where residents were hard hit by the moratorium on drilling, was relieved that the ban had been lifted, but voiced concern that a slow-moving permitting process would end up smothering the local oil and gas industry.

We hope that the new regulations and new policies will make drilling safer for both the people working offshore and the environment in the future.

“At the same time, we hope the regulations will not delay the permitting process for deepwater or other drilling, which ends up smothering the industry,” Nungesser said.

Republican Congressman Darrell Issa also urged the government to “avoid a de facto moratorium-by-regulatory-delay … that would be just as damaging to the Gulf economy as a blanket moratorium.”

A study in July estimated that a six-month moratorium would cost more than 8,000 jobs in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas and wipe out nearly 2.1 billion dollars in economic activity in the Gulf states.

Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, who has called the moratorium a “reckless” move that endangered the environment and jobs, welcomed Tuesday’s announcement as “a step in the right direction.”

“But it must be accompanied by an action plan to get the entire industry in the Gulf of Mexico back to work,” including an acceleration of the permitting process, she added.

Environmental groups, meanwhile, said the ban had been lifted too soon.

“Scientists haven’t even assessed the full ecological impact of the BP disaster and yet the government is in a rush to allow oil companies to get back to drilling. It is irresponsible to say the least, reckless at worst,” said Greenpeace USA director Phil Radford.

Peter Lehner, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the moratorium should have stayed in place.

“To ensure a disaster like this never happens again, we must know what caused it in the first place. We?re still waiting for that answer and until we get it, the moratorium should remain in place,” he said.

The Sierra Club said the moratorium had been only a temporary fix, and the real solution was to wean the United States off oil.

“The only way to make sure we don?t see another drilling disaster is to end our dependence on oil,” said Sierra Club president Michael Brune.

“The BP disaster was a wake up call, but our leaders keep hitting the snooze button,” he said.

Source: SGGP

California deploys National Guard to Mexico border

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2010 at 11:22 am

LOS ANGELES, Aug 19, 2010 (AFP) – California is deploying a first group of 224 National Guard troops to its southern border with Mexico to assist Border Patrol agents attempting to stem the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants.

“Today, our National Guard has been called to help secure the border and protect the safety of the American people,” said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“I am proud that we are the first state to have our troops operational for this mission,” he added at an event in San Diego, a border town some 200 kilometers south of Los Angeles which neigbhours the Mexican city of Tijuana.

Schwarzenegger stressed the deployment was not an alternative to a legislative solution to deal with illegal immigration, an issue President Barack Obama has been unable to tackle amid widespread opposition to immigration reform and amnesty for the millions of people in America illegally.

“We must find a permanent solution to our broken immigration system,” he said.

“We need the federal government to step up with even more manpower and funding, and I will continue to push President Obama and Congress for action.”

Obama last week signed legislation sending drones and an additional 1,500 new agents to the US border with Mexico, which runs across the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The legislation also provides an additional 600 million dollars to combat drug, arms and people trafficking across the border.

Source: SGGP

BP plugs runaway oil well in Gulf of Mexico

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2010 at 7:21 am

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, Aug 5, 2010 (AFP) – BP plugged its runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico with cement Thursday, one of the final steps in permanently sealing the gusher at the center of the worst US environmental disaster on record.

Some 15 weeks after the well ruptured and 21 days after the flow was fully stemmed with a temporary cap, the massive oil slick that once stretched for hundreds of miles is rapidly disappearing from the Gulf.

This still image from a live BP video feed shows a view from a submersible of the BP well area on August 5, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. AFP

But officials cautioned that a great deal of clean-up work remained and that the long-term impact of the disaster could be felt for years, even decades.

“This is not the end, but it will virtually assure us that there will be no chance of oil leaking into the environment,” said spill response chief Thad Allen, adding, “I think we can all breathe a little easier.”

In a long-awaited breakthrough, BP brought the well under control Wednesday after pumping heavy drilling fluid into the busted Macondo well for eight hours, forcing the oil back down into the reservoir miles beneath the seabed.

The British energy giant then began pumping cement at 09:15 CDT (1415 GMT), and the “static kill” operation was completed in five hours.

“Monitoring of the well is underway in order to confirm the effectiveness of the procedure,” BP said in a statement.

Work will resume on finishing a relief well, once the cement has dried, that will pierce the base of the well and entomb a pipe no bigger than a dinner plate in mud and cement.

It will likely be mid-August before that operation is complete and the well is finally “killed.”

It took 106 days to shut the well down in the wake of a devastating explosion on April 20 that killed 11 workers and sank the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig two days later, unleashing a torrent of oil into the Gulf.

At 4.9 million barrels — or enough oil to fill 311 Olympic-sized swimming pools — the disaster is the biggest maritime spill on record.

Heavy brown oil coated fragile coastal wetlands, sullied sandy white beaches, and smothered thousands of birds, turtles, dolphins and other marine life.

The disaster crippled the Gulf’s multibillion dollar commercial and recreational fishing industry and plunged residents of coastal communities into months of anguish over their livelihoods and the region’s future.

A government report released Wednesday found that a third of the oil was captured or mitigated through burning, skimming, chemical dispersion and direct recovery from the wellhead.

Another twenty percent or so was “completely removed” from the system through natural processes as waves and currents broke the slick up into smaller patches and the warm waters helped speed biodegradation and evaporation.

“Most of the remainder is degrading rapidly, or is being removed from the beaches,” Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told a White House briefing.

But Lubchenco was quick to stress that the oil will likely have “very considerable impacts” on the ecosystem for “years and possibly decades to come.”

That has fishermen worried about what they’ll find when they are finally allowed back out on the water with their boats, and whether consumers will be willing to eat what they catch.

And with tourists likely to avoid Gulf beaches for years and oil industry jobs under threat from President Barack Obama’s moratorium on new deep sea drilling permits, the future remains bleak for many coastal communities.

“It’s impossible to know how this thing is ultimately going to play out,” said Matt O’Brian, owner of a shrimp and crab processing dock in the coastal town of Venice, Louisiana.

O’Brian welcomed the news that the well was finally under control, but said it “can’t overcome the atmosphere of uncertainty lingering out at sea.”

He’s worried about the oil’s impact on crab and shrimp populations and wonders if there will ever be a market for Louisiana seafood.

Todd Goodman, who works for the local government and runs a trailer park as a sideline, agreed.

“There is enormous pressure on BP to claim that everything is fine now. But what scares me and a lot of other folks around here is the notion that everybody – BP, the Coast Guard, law enforcement, cleanup crews – will suddenly pull up stakes and leave,” he said.

“Then, two months later — boom! — more oil washes up on us.”

Source: SGGP

BP begins crucial well ‘kill’ in Gulf of Mexico

In Uncategorized on August 4, 2010 at 7:19 am

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – BP began operations to permanently plug the runaway well that has brought environmental and economic ruin to the Gulf of Mexico and spilled more oil into the sea than ever before.

Ships work near the site of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. AFP

Engineers launched their long-awaited static kill at 2000 GMT Tuesday, ramming heavy fluid into the blown-out Macondo well to force the crude back down into a reservoir almost 3.5 miles (5.7 kilometers) beneath the surface of the sea.

BP was optimistic after conducting “text-book” tests that showed the oil could be subdued, though senior vice president Kent Wells said it was too early to know if the process would take hours or days.

Once the heavy drilling fluid, known as mud, is holding down the oil, the aim is to pour in a cement plug that will permanently seal off the reservoir.

Any leaks in the steel casing of the well would complicate matters as it would mean the area between the pipe and the outer well bore, known as the annulus, would also have to be filled up with mud.

The best case scenario could see the well put permanently out of action by Wednesday, although a “bottom kill” will be performed through a relief well in mid-August to cement in the outer well bore and be certain of success.

If the well casing has leaks, a decision could be taken to hold off on the cement job until the relief well is ready.

“We’re so early in the process there’s no way for me to give you any early indication. The only thing I would say is the injectivity test went well and so that gives us the encouragement,” said Wells.

Thad Allen, the US government point man in the disaster, was emphatic that the static kill “will increase the probability that the relief well will work.” In the long run, “drilling into the annulus and into the casing pipe from below, filling that with mud and then filling that with cement is the only solution to the end of this,” he told reporters.

The extent of the spill was confirmed when US government experts on Monday announced that the oil had been pouring out at a rate of 62,000 barrels a day — more than 12 times faster than BP originally admitted.

This was also higher than any previous official estimate, and meant 4.9 million barrels of crude — more than 205 million gallons — spewed into the Gulf in the 87 days it took to cap it, making it the biggest maritime spill ever.

If BP is found guilty of negligence, the flow rate means it could face up to 17.6 billion dollars in fines. The firm has also set up a 20 billion dollar fund to pay claims from individuals and businesses hit by the disaster.

Shutting the well will bring some relief to coastal residents who have been uncertain about their future and frustrated at the cleanup effort since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in April and sank to the bottom of the Gulf.

The full economic and environmental cost of the spill will remain unknown for some time, but a hint of what is to come was found in a report out Tuesday by researchers at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) at Columbia University.

Of 1,200 coastal Gulf coast residents the researchers surveyed last month, 40 percent said they had been directly exposed to the spill, a third said it had affected their kids, and 20 percent said it had hit their wallets.

Parents reported that their children had developed mental, behavioral or physical problems — everything from respiratory problems and rashes to feelings of sadness or nervousness, difficulty socializing with other children, or trouble getting to sleep.

One in five residents told the Columbia researchers that their household income had fallen, with poor residents — those who earned less than 25,000 dollars a year — feeling the pinch more than the better-off.

While there is hope that Louisiana’s marshes and fragile wetlands may recover relatively quickly, no one knows the real spill impact on the Gulf food chain.

Source: SGGP

Gulf of Mexico now worst accidental spill on record

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – A Taiwanese supertanker skimmed oil from the Gulf of Mexico Saturday as the months-long disaster became the worst accidental spill on record.

Oil cleanup workers try to remove thick oil that washed ashore in Gulfport, Mississippi. AFP

Rough seas and strong winds continued to delay clean-up efforts, displace protective booms and push the oil deeper into fragile coastal wetlands, endangering wildlife preserves and the thousands of birds nesting there.

“This is going to be a very long and arduous clean-up operation in the days to come,” said Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft.

“I’m especially concerned with some of the wildlife habitats.”

An estimated 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil per day has been gushing out of the ruptured well since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sank on April 22, some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Louisiana.

A containment system has captured about 557,000 barrels of oil, but rough seas have delayed the deployment of a third vessel which is set to increase capacity from 25,000 barrels to 53,000 barrels a day.

That means an estimated 1.9 to 3.6 million barrels — or 79.5 to 153 million gallons — of oil has now gushed into the Gulf.

Using the high end of that estimate, the spill has now surpassed the 1979 Ixtoc blowout which took nine months to cap and dumped an estimated 3.3 million barrels (140,000 million gallons) into the Gulf of Mexico.

It is topped only by the deliberate release of six to eight million barrels of crude by Iraqi troops who destroyed tankers and oil terminals and set wells ablaze in Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War.

And it will likely be mid-August at the earliest before the Gulf well is permanently capped by injecting mud and cement with the aid of relief wells.

The Taiwanese supertanker dubbed “A Whale” could radically increase the amount of oil crews are able to recover.

“It ingests oil and oily water and then separates out the oil and expels the water,” BP spokesman Toby Odone told AFP.

The giant ship, which has cuts in its sides, is some 300 yards (275 meters) long and can suck up 21 million gallons of oily water a day.

The small skimming boats which have been patrolling the Gulf for the past 10 weeks have only collected 28.2 million gallons of oily water to date.

The tanker began initial skimming operations Friday, with crews testing whether it could safely handle and dispose of the oil, but it will take several days before a final deployment decision is made, Odone said.

Rough seas caused by the first hurricane of the Atlantic season have kept the thousands of ships hired to skim oil, lay boom, carry out controlled burns, and move equipment in harbor since Tuesday.

Skimmers had been collecting about 12,000 barrels of oil a day before they were sent back to port while about 8,000 barrels of oil was being burned off the surface.

Around 450 miles (725 kilometers) of US shorelines have now been oiled as crude spews into the sea at an alarming rate, 73 days into the worst environmental disaster in US history.

A third containment ship aimed at doubling the amount of oil captured from a rupture well in the Gulf of Mexico should hopefully be working by Wednesday, said Admiral Thad Allen, who oversees operations.

The deployment of the Helix Producer is set to increase capacity from about 25,000 to 53,000 barrels of oil per day.

Officials will have a better estimate on the actual flow rate once the Helix Producer is attached “just by the visual evidence of how much oil is actually coming out around that cap,” Allen said.

They will then have to decide if the existing system should stay in place, or if it would be best to undergo a risky procedure to replace the cap with another system capable of capturing up to 80,000 barrels of oil a day.

“The decision window associated with that would be sometime in the next I would say seven to 10 days,” Allen said in a conference call Friday.

A key advantage of the new system is that it would greatly reduce the amount of time oil would be gushing freely into the sea if crews had to evacuate the spill site due to a bad storm.

“All of this is being weighed very, very carefully,” Allen said.

Meawhile, a US government agency warned the Florida Keys and resort beaches of Miami and Fort Lauderdale were at high risk from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration used a computer model to estimate the likelihood that toxic crude will ride the Loop Current into the Gulf Stream, which whips around the southern tip of Florida and up the eastern US seaboard.

The study found that much of Florida’s western coastline along the Gulf “has a low probability (one to 20 percent) for impact,” while the Florida Keys, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale areas “have a greater probability (61 to 80 percent).”

Source: SGGP

Storm theatens Gulf of Mexico oil spill clean-up

In Uncategorized on June 26, 2010 at 12:41 pm

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – A potentially dangerous tropical storm named Alex that experts say could complicate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill clean-up has formed in the Caribbean Sea, the US government said on Saturday.

At 0900 GMT, the eye of the storm, which packed sustained winds of 40 miles (65 kilometers) an hour, was located 220 miles (355 kilometers) east of Belize City, according to the Miami-based US National Hurricane Center.

An aerial view of the Chandeleur islands, on June 23, in the Gulf of Mexico, along the coast of Louisiana. AFP

A tropical storm warning was in effect on the east coast of Belize, Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and on the coastal islands in Honduras.

But after dropping rain on the Central American nations, the storm was expected to turn toward the Gulf of Mexico.

“A gradual turn toward the northeast and an increase in forward speed are expected in the next 48 hours,” the center said in an advisory.

Alex was expected to approach the Yucatan Peninsula on Sunday morning.

Weather forecasters had earlier said the storm by next week could head for the site of the huge oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico unleashed by the April 20 explosion of the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig.

The vast spill has already soiled the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and reached Florida on Thursday, a potential disaster for one of the world’s top tourist destinations with over 80 million visitors a year

“This will be the first time and there is no playbook,” Coast Guard commandant Thad Allen told CNN commenting on the weather.

“I will tell you there has been an extraordinary amount of planning being done between the folks of the national incident command and incident commanders on the ground,” he said.

Vice President Joe Biden was heading to the region on Tuesday and was due to visit the New Orleans-based National Incident Command Center and then trvael to the Florida panhandle, Allen said.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Carol Browner, who heads the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, will also visit.

Oil began oozing on to beaches in northwestern Florida Thursday, prompting a swimming ban from far western Florida to the east side of Pensacola Beach through Santa Rosa Island, one of the region’s most popular attractions.

The state’s 1,260 miles (2,000 kilometers) of western coastline is home to scores of beaches as well as pristine coral reefs and an important fishing industry.

State officials have mounted an aggressive beach and coastline cleanup effort to stop the oil from reaching Florida beaches.

At a time of high unemployment in other sectors, tourism in Florida generates more than a million jobs, bringing the state 65 billion dollars in revenue in 2008.

BP shares plummeted to a 13-year low in London on Friday after the group ramped up the costs of the spill so far to 2.35 billion dollars (1.9 billion euros).

The company’s share values have been cut by more than half since the April 20 explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and unleashed the worst oil spill in US history.

The company’s stock collapsed by almost nine percent in mid-morning trading to plumb a low of 296 pence on the London Stock Exchange, hitting a level last seen in August 1996 amid investor alarm over spiraling costs.

On Saturday, activists and southeast Louisiana residents are scheduled to gather at area beaches to hold hands and show their support clean energy and oppose offshore drilling.

The “Hands Across the Sand” event will take place in all US states and some 30 countries, organizers said.

“It’s time to stand up to the oil industry. It’s time to move America beyond oil and into a clean energy future,” said Aaron Viles, Campaign Director of the Gulf Restoration Network.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal separately declared Sunday a “Statewide Day of Prayer for perseverance during the oil spill crisis.”

Jindal, a Republican politician of Indian descent, opposes the six-month moratorium imposed on exploratory offshore drilling, claiming it will only compound the state’s suffering.

Oil siphoning operations resumed Wednesday morning, some 11 hours after BP removed the containment cap over the gushing well after a remotely-operated submarine robot bumped into the device.

The accident shut down a vent, forcing gas up into part of the system. The device traps spewing crude and siphons it up to two surface vessels.

The overall amount of crude gushing from the damaged well is still unclear, with the latest government estimates ranging from 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day.

Source: SGGP

Cap again collecting oil from Gulf of Mexico leak

In Uncategorized on June 24, 2010 at 4:37 am

Oil had spewed uncontrolled into the Gulf of Mexico for much of the day Wednesday before engineers reattached a cap being used to contain the gusher and direct some of the crude to a surface ship.

The logistics coordinator onboard the Discoverer Enterpriser, the ship that has been siphoning the oil, told The Associated Press that after more than 10 hours, the system was again collecting the crude. The crewmember, speaking from the bridge of the ship, said the cap was placed back on the gusher around 8 p.m. CDT. He asked not to be identified by name because he was not authorized to provide the information.

BP later confirmed the cap was back in place, but said it had been hooked up about an hour and half earlier. The coordinator said it would take a little time for the system to “get ramped back up.”

This image from video provided by BP PLC early Wednesday, June 23, 2010 shows oil continuing to gush from the broken wellhead, at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico

Most recently, the system, which has been in place since June 4, was sucking up about 29,000 gallons an hour, crude that spewed back into the Gulf on Wednesday unabated. At that rate, it could mean about 290,000 extra gallons escaped into the water before the system restarted. Another ship was still collecting a smaller amount of oil and burning it on the surface.

BP engineers removed the cap after the mishap because fluid seemed to be leaking, creating a possible safety hazard because of the flames above, and they were concerned ice-like crystals might clog it.

The latest problem with the nine-week effort to stop the gusher came as thick pools of oil washed up on Pensacola Beach in Florida and the Obama administration sought to resurrect a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling.

In court papers, the Justice Department said it has asked a judge to delay a court ruling by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans that overturned the moratorium. The Interior Department imposed it last month after the disaster, halting approval of any new permits for deepwater projects and suspending drilling on 33 exploratory wells.

Under the worst-case scenario, as much as 104,000 gallons an hour — 2.5 million gallons a day — is flowing from the site where the offshore rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20, killing 11 workers.

Bob Dudley, the BP managing director who took over the spill response from his company’s embattled CEO Wednesday, had said earlier that engineers expected to replace the cap in less than a day.

“It’s a disruption, and the crew again did exactly the right thing because they were concerned about safety,” he said. “It’s a setback, and now we will go back into operation and show how this technology can work.”

When the robot bumped into the equipment just before 10 a.m., gas rose through a vent that carries warm water down to prevent ice-like crystals from forming in the machinery, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said.

Crews were checking to see if the crystals called hydrates had formed before attempting to put the cap back on.

Ed Overton, a professor emeritus of environmental science at Louisiana State University, said he suspects crews are pumping air into the line to flush out any water before they try to reattach the cap.

“It sounds pretty easy and straightforward, but nothing is easy and straightforward when you’re doing it remotely from a mile away,” he said.

In May, a similar problem doomed the effort to put a bigger containment device over the blown-out well. BP had to abandon the four-story box after the crystals clogged it, threatening to make it float away.

The smaller cap had worked until now. To get it to the seafloor, though, crews had to slice away a section of the leaking pipe, meaning the flow of oil could be stronger now than before.

Meanwhile, pools of oil washed up along miles of national park and Pensacola Beach shoreline and health advisories against swimming and fishing in the once-pristine waters were extended for 33 miles east from the Alabama border.

“It’s pretty ugly, there’s no question about it,” Gov. Charlie Crist said.

The oil had a chemical stench as it baked in the afternoon heat. The beach looked as if it had been paved with a 6-foot-wide ribbon of asphalt, much different from the tar balls that washed up two weeks earlier.

“This used to be a place where you could come and forget about all your cares in the world,” said Nancy Berry, who fought back tears as she watched her two grandsons play in the sand far from the shore.

Park rangers in the Gulf Islands National Seashore helped to rescue an oily young dolphin found beached in the sand.

Ranger Bobbie Visnovske said a family found the dolphin Wednesday, and wildlife officers carried it into shallow water for immediate resuscitation. They later transported it to a rehabilitation center in Panama City, about 100 miles to the east.

The Obama administration was plotting its next steps Wednesday on the drilling halt. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement that within the next few days he would issue a new order imposing a moratorium that eliminates any doubt it is needed and appropriate.

“It’s important that we don’t move forward with new drilling until we know it can be done in a safe way,” he told a Senate subcommittee.

Attorneys for the oilfield services companies that sued over the moratorium filed court papers accusing the Obama administration of ignoring Feldman’s decision. They said Salazar’s comments about a new moratorium have had a chilling effect on the resumption of drilling.

Several companies, including Shell and Marathon Oil, said they would await the outcome of any appeals before they start drilling again.

Source: SGGP

Mexico send sorry France to brink of World Cup exit

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 at 4:26 am

 France, the 1998 world champions and 2006 runners-up, were left teetering on the brink of World Cup first round elimination on Thursday when they slumped to a 2-0 defeat against Mexico.

Veteran Cuauhtemoc Blanco converted a late penalty to clinch the victory after substitute striker, Manchester United-bound Javier Hernandez, had put the Central Americans ahead 64 minutes into the Group A showdown at Peter Mokaba Stadium.

Mexico’s first victory over France left them and Uruguay level on four points ahead of a June 22 Rustenburg clash and both will advance to the next round by drawing.

France play South Africa, who have a point each, at the same time in Bloemfontein and if either wins and the other game delivers a positive result, goal difference could come into play.

Mexico’s Javier Hernandez celebrates after scoring a goal during the Group A first round 2010 World Cup football match France vs. Mexico at Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane. Mexico won 2-0.

“We need a miracle now,” said France coach Raymond Domenech. “We have to be strong and at least play for our honour. At least we must show something in the last match. When we are forced to rely on others, there’s nothing to say.”

Skipper Rafael Marquez warned Mexico they could not let the win go to their heads.

“We have to keep our feet on the ground despite this win,” the Barcelona defender said.

Coach Javier Aguirre added: “It was very important to beat France – they are after all the vice-world champions. We turned in a very fine performance – but we are not yet mathematically through.

Hernandez, nicknamed the Little Pea, was ebullient after his goal.

“I am delighted with this victory more so than for my goal or indeed getting the man of the match award.

“We wanted to make the Mexican people happy and this win is a first step for there is a long way to go.”

The fourth meeting of the countries in the history of the tournament kicked off in cold conditions before a large colourful crowd with each team making one change from their opening encounter last Friday.

Malouda replaced Yoann Gourcuff in the French line-up while defender Hector Morena came in for Paul Aguilar in the Mexico side.

Saudi Arabian referee Khalil al-Ghamdi stamped his imprint early with a fourth-minute caution for veteran Mexican striker Guillermo Franco amid much protest.

Mexico had a couple of early half chances that were not put away by Carlos Vela and Franco while a slick French free-kick manoeuvre fizzled out as Franck Ribery overhit a cross.

The Central Americans were more threatening as the halfway point of the opening half approached with a William Gallas block taking the sting out of a move and Carlos Salcido firing past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris only to miss the target.

It was Lloris versus Salcido again on 27 minutes with the French goalkeeper doing well to push away a hard, low drive after the Mexican cut in from the left flank helped by timid defending.

Mexico suffered a blow when Vela limped off to be replaced by Pablo Barrera, who put Lloris under pressure almost immediately from a cross that the goalkeeper unconvincingly punched away.

Mexico broke the deadlock on 64 minutes when Hernandez raced on to a lobbed Rafael Marquez pass, rounded Lloris and calmly stroked the ball into the net.

Domenech, who gives way after this tournament to former star Laurent Blanc, stared emotion-less at the action as his side struggled to make an impact up front.

And his worst fears were realised after 79 minutes when Eric Abidal fouled Pablo Berrera and 37-year-old Blanco made a long run before placing a low spot kick wide of Lloris into the corner of the net.

Source: SGGP