Jane Van Ryan
Posted June 15, 2010
While oil company officials were being questioned by Congress today, a bolt of lightning started a small fire on the Discoverer Enterprise, the drillship that is collecting oil and flaring gas from the leaking Macondo well.
BP reports the fire occurred at the top of the ship's derrick and was extinguished quickly. There were no injuries, but the lower marine riser package (LMRP) containment operation was shut down temporarily. Collection of oil and gas was expected to resume today.
The responders' Joint Information Center has released an interactive map, allowing users to track the response efforts real-time. The map shows the locations of response centers, claims offices and fishing bans, in addition to providing information about beach conditions.
BP is moving forward with its plans to contain more of the oil and gas leaking from the Gulf well. Yesterday, the company said it hopes to contain the spill by the end of June. It's also expediting payments to commercial large loss claims.
In a news release, BP says it has issued approximately 25,000 checks worth about $63 million. By the end of the week, it expects to have paid about $85 million in legitimate claims. So far, the spill response has cost BP an estimated $1.6 billion, according to published reports.
Today, at the Energy and Environment Subcommittee hearing in Washington, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) asked BP America Chairman Lamar McKay whether he was ready to apologize for the oil spill. McKay told the House panel that "BP will not rest until the well is under control" and the causes of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy are identified. He also reiterated that BP will pay all legitimate claims.
McKay added that BP had not decided whether to forego a dividend payment to its shareholders. Several members of Congress are pushing the company to set up an escrow account allowing the government to pay for the response outside BP's control.
President Obama, who has stated his support for an escrow account, will make his first Oval Office speech tonight. He is expected to address the spill, response plans and U.S. energy security. Tomorrow he will meet with BP officials at the White House.
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