Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Jones Act and The BP Oil Spill part 2

Fox New continues with it's nonsense regarding the Jones Act and the BP Deepwater Oil Spill.

Fox & Friends ignores international aid in attacking Obama over oil spill response

The fact is that, at present, 15 foreign flagged non-Jones Act vessels are in the Gulf responding to the spill and none required Jones Act waivers.

Here is a link to an AIS in the area.  When I checked all the vessels in the area are foreign flagged.

Perhaps responding to the blather- Admiral Allen provides Jones Act waiver guidance

Here is 46 USC 55113 - Use of foreign documented oil spill response vessels

gcaptain forum "Foreign vessels on GOM clean up"

From LA Times, Foreign flagging of offshore rigs skirts U.S. safety rules. Under International law, offshore oil rigs like the Deepwater Horizon are treated as ships, and companies are allowed to "register" them in unlikely places such as the Marshall Islands, Panama and Liberia — reducing the U.S. government's role in inspecting and enforcing safety and other standards.



Will said...
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Anonymous said...

I think you guys are still missing the point.

People are upset that all available resources aren't being brought to bear. Everyone's trying to figure out why not, and nobody from the Obama administration, or elsewhere, has given a straight answer as to why not. So people try to figure it out on their own - and most of us aren't maritime attorneys.

There are foreign skimming vessels that are not being used in the GoM that have been offered. It's a fact, and I provided that evidence in the last post, but looks like you've decided not to address them and move on to "Pt. 2".

I've said it before, whether it's the Jones Act, the EPA, or just being mad at the Swedes because their women are so hot - there's some reason those boats and plenty others aren't here.

There's also a reason the "supertanker strategy" hasn't been tried - and again, maybe it has absolutely nothing to do with the Jones Act, but nobody of authority has offered any reason why it hasn't been considered (other than Adm. Allen's brief mention that it's really crowded out there).

BTW, I'm curious, how many of those 15 foreign flagged vessels you identified are involved in skimming, and not the drilling/sub-sea recovery operation? My guess is zero, but I hope I'm wrong.

One other thing that I don't understand. It appears that the area around the spill is in fact international waters, but an U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone...I bet that opens up a whole other can of worms and legal issues...and makes me wonder if the Dutch/Swedes/Norwegians/Germans/etc. could just head out there and start grabbing whatever they can get their skimmers on. Then again, if they aren't "wanted", maybe they figure to hell with us?

Your old pal,
Captain Anonymous

Anonymous said...

A little off topic, but still relevant, do you have any opinion on your fellow Mainers being stonewalled with trying to get their booms down to the Gulf?

BTW, your dreaded nemesis, Fox & Friends, interviewed the CEO of Packgen: http://www.packgen.com/

FWIW, they have about 14-15 miles of boom on the shelf (and it's been sitting there on offer for over a month), and can produce another 16-17 miles a day.

Ken E Beck said...

I don't know what the problem is but imagine this scenario. You are in charge of the clean-up. You have 10,000 feet of boom deployed. In the area where 9000 feet is deployed there is no oil. About 1000 feet of the boom is holding back some oil. In places where there is no booms, or the booms are improperly deployed, oil is getting into sensitive areas. The problem is lack of training, lack of information and communications etc. Some one offers you another 10,000 feet of boom. You have one competent person. Should you pull that one person off the job of properly deploying boom to make arrangements to accept more boom?

Likely it is the same situation with skimmers. On TV I see many vessel working where there is no or little oil. What is confusing the picture is various parties see the spill opportunity to grind their particular axe, be it the Jones Act or the Obama administration in general.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it's very possible that there is a shortage of qualified labor out there, but I respectfully disagree that this is a valid excuse.

For example, experts can be brought in from elsewhere - presumably the folks in Maine that would have been responsible for deploying your boom would be available to go south. Also, there are plenty of out-of-work engineers, construction folks, fisherman, you name it, (already in the GoM) that could probably be trained in effective boom deployment in about an hour. Maybe a day or a week. But not weeks or months.

So in your example, it might make sense to take the one competent person, and have him train 10 people, then they train 10 people - in a week, you've got 100 competent people - they may not be world experts in boom deployment, but having them do the job is better thank leaving the boom sitting in the warehouse - OR NOT EVEN BEING MADE, which is what's happening up at Packgen. Every day that Packgen doesn't make boom, that's almost 20 miles of potential beach/marsh/bay protection that you can NEVER get back.

I also agree that it ain't pretty to see people grind their axes. It's like a neighbor coming out while your house is burning down and ranting about how he voted against the fire chief and thinks he's a jerk. Can be a little unseemly. But that's human nature unfortunately, and it seems to get worse every year (or maybe we get older and crankier every year).

Even though I've been debating the Jones Act thing, I've been happy to say, I hope I'm wrong - but I fear I'm not. And while I'm obviously not an Obama supporter, I'm not the kind of person that wishes the guy, his administration, or anyone else failure in stopping the leak and cleaning it up. Some people probably are so twisted that they love to see the destruction and hope it gets worse just so it hurts Obama - but that's a pretty small - and lonely - group I think.

So, since you're really focusing on "The Jones Act and The BP Oil Spill", maybe it's not fair to take the conversation on these tangents - but I feel that they're all (whichever turn out to be true) are symptomatic of the same problem.

Deep Water Sailor said...

Been following your threads for a while. Here's my take y'all:


Anonymous said...

@Deep Water Sailor, that was an interesting and informative post, thanks for linking to it.

Anonymous said...


Anybody have any thoughts on why BP has added oil burning capacity (I think 2 or 3 ships as of today, that burn around 10,000bbls/day?) rather than tanker capacity?

By tanking it away, they can prevent the environmental impact of burning, as well as make some money (10,000 bbls = roughly a quarter of a million dollars - PER SHIP!).

Something doesn't add up.

Will said...

Dutch skimmer delays.


Anonymous said...


Seriously. Any ideas? I swear I am not trying to bait anyone into an "a ha, I TOLD YOU it was the JONES ACT" response.

Just trying to figure it out.

I've already stipulated a bunch of times that it's entirely possible that the Jones Act isn't at play for many, if not all of these odd decisions and actions.

Will said...

Did you read the article? It seems to be lack of coordination between BP, the Coast Guard, and the Dutch. They also single out an EPA reg that don't allow for oily water to be pumped back into the ocean.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, yes. I read it (it's a couple weeks old) and there's nothing new here, and nothing that answers the question I asked a post ago - so I didn't know what your point was.

I just read it again. Still don't understand what your point is.

Will said...

Sorry for the confusion. I wasn't trying to address the oil burning question. I was trying to address the delay in accepting the Dutch skimmers. I thought you had mentioned it in the original thread.

Anonymous said...

Gotcha. Again, no disrespect - it's just that I've asked a bunch of questions and I didn't tie it back to that one in particular.

But I also think it's important to distinguish between "skimmers" or "skimming arms" and "skimming vessels" (which are foreign ships with the systems already installed, and presumably cannot/do not want remove them to send to us). This article itself describes that the skimmer systems had to be sent over here and bolted on to U.S. ships, and then U.S. crews had to be trained (it's almost mentioning the Jones Act, without actually naming it - just my interpretation, but you have to admit, that it's a possible interpretation.)

Also, it didn't mention that there are foreign ships in many countries that already have the equipment installed and could have been here 4-6 weeks ago, or could even be here next week - but still aren't on the way.

That said, it sounds like we both agree that the whole EPA thing was absurd. As to the degree to which we think it's symptomatic of a poor response by the administration, maybe we're still apart?

I still don't understand why we don't have more foreign skimmers here. I wish someone of authority would just come out and answer this question.

Anonymous said...

You linked to a Christian Science Monitor article from a couple of weeks ago. Interestingly, the CSM had an article on the Jones Act just yesterday:

"Jones Act: Does Gulf oil spill cleanup need more foreign boats?"


They may be off base too, but it just seems like the questions are only growing louder, and coming from more mainstream sources - so Obama needs to speak up and set the record straight.

Ken E. Beck said...

There are two separate issues. First - are available assets being used efficiently? I have had experience with oil spill clean-up and can guess almost certainly there arenot. I get the impression the the general public underestimates how difficult it is to coordinate a large clean-up.

The second issue: Is the Jones Act hindering the clean up. I would say likely not. Perhaps it is not understood that there are parties who stand to make a great deal of money if they can weaken or overturn the Jones Act will seize any opportunity to do so.

Anonymous said...

@Ken E. Beck, I actually agree with both of your points, for the most part with some exceptions.

The main exception is that I think there are way more than 2 issues, and the one that seems to be ignored by many folks is whether all available assets are being deployed. How effective or efficient they are is a separate, but related issue.

On your second point, I completely agree that there are people who stand to gain financially by vilifying the Jones Act, but I - and many other folks questioning it's impact on the cleanup - are not in that group. I just don't think there's enough evidence to say that the Jones Act is "not likely" having an impact, but I respect the fact that you are now saying that it is "not likely", rather than your previous stance that it absolutely is not.