Headlines: White House – oil spill legislative package; Joint Investigation – update; House – hearing on Gulf Coast oil spill; House – bill introduced for commission to investigate Deepwater Horizon casualty; Senate – bill introduced for commission to investigate Deepwater Horizon casualty; Senate – bill introduced to remove cap on punitive damages; Senate – bill introduced to increase OCSLA limits on liability; USCG – two revised Port Security Advisories; FMC – public hearing re NVOCC negotiated rate arrangements; and Australia – update re Shen Neng 1.
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White House – oil spill legislative package
The White House issued a Fact Sheet stating that the Obama Administration is forwarding to Congress a legislative package regarding the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The package would, among other things, make additional monies available to the Coast Guard for oil spill response actions; enhance the oversight of the offshore oil and gas industry; and raise liability caps. (5/12/10). Note: The actual legislative package is not yet available, so many details are uncertain. Congress will have to consider this package along with the various bills that have already been introduced in reaction to the oil spill.
Joint Investigation – update
The USCG/MMS Joint Investigation of the Gulf of Mexico casualty issued a Fact Sheet explaining the investigative process being utilized. The initial proceeding, held on May 11 and 12, established the foundation by examining the search and rescue (SAR) aspects; the rendering of assistance to the evacuated crew; and aspects of the roles of various governmental entities, including the Minerals Management Service, the US Coast Guard, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands Flag Administration. It is expected that there will be two or three more public proceedings, which will focus on the corporate safety culture of the parties, as well as on recovery, examination, analysis, and evaluation of critical drilling and blow out preventer (BOP) equipment. The second public proceeding is scheduled to take place on May 25-29 in New Orleans. (5/12/10).
House – hearing on Gulf Coast oil spill
The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce conducted a hearing on the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) made an opening statement, as did Subcommittee Chair Bart Stupak (D-MI). Mr. Lamar McKay, BP America, testified concerning efforts to stop the oil discharge, as well as the oil spill response actions. Mr. Steve Newman, Transocean, Ltd., testified concerning the roles of the well operator and the various contractors. Mr. Timothy Probert, Halliburton, testified concerning the well cementing procedure. Mr. Jack Moore, Cameron, testified concerning the company’s experience with blowout preventers. (5/12/10).
House – bill introduced for commission to investigate Deepwater Horizon casualty
Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) introduced the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Inquiry Commission Act of 2010 (H.R. 5241) to establish an independent, nonpartisan commission to investigate the causes and impact of, and evaluate and improve the response to, the explosion, fire, and loss of life on and sinking of the Mobile Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon and the resulting uncontrolled release of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and to ensure that a similar disaster is not repeated. (5/6/10).
Senate – bill introduced for commission to investigate Deepwater Horizon casualty
Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced a bill (S. 3344) to establish an independent, nonpartisan commission to investigate the causes and impact of, and evaluate and improve the response to, the explosion, fire, and loss of life on and sinking of the Mobile Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon and the resulting uncontrolled release of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and to ensure that a similar disaster is not repeated. (5/11/10).
Senate – bill introduced to remove cap on punitive damages
Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced a bill (S. 3345) to amend title 46, United States Code, to remove the cap on punitive damages established by the Supreme Court in Exxon Shipping Company v. Baker. (5/11/10).
Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced a bill (S. 3346) to increase the limits on liability under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. (5/11/10). Official texts of the three Senate bills are not yet available. Senator Whitehouse, though, issued a news release explaining the purpose of the bills.
USCG – two revised Port Security Advisories
The US Coast Guard has revised two of its Port Security Advisories. Port Security Advisory (2-09)(Rev 1) updates the recommendations for US vessels not subject to the mandatory provisions of MARSEC Directive 104-6 (Rev 3) relating to security arrangements for US vessels operating in high-risk waters. The changes are not major and generally reflect the recommendations found in the industry-developed best management practices. Port Security Advisory 11-09 (Rev 1) notes that the provisions of the original version of the Advisory have been incorporated into a contemporaneously-issued revision of the MARSEC Directive (which is designated Sensitive Security Information [SSI] and thus not available here. (5/12/10).
FMC – public meeting re NVOCC negotiated rate arrangements
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) issued an official notice stating that it will hold a public meeting on May 24 at its office in Washington, DC to receive comments on the proposed rule relating to non-vessel-operating common carrier (NVOCC negotiated rate arrangements. Requests to participate in the public meeting must be received by May 14. 75 Fed. Reg. 26906 (May 13, 2010).
Australia – update re Shen Neng 1
Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) issued a media release stating that offloading of cargo from the damaged coal carrier Shen Neng 1 has commenced. Plans call for removal of about 19,000 tons of coal so that the vessel can safely be towed overseas for repairs. (5/12/10).
If you have questions regarding the above items, please contact the editor:
Dennis L. Bryant
Bryant’s Maritime Consulting
4845 SW 91st Way
Gainesville, FL 32608-8135
© Dennis L. Bryant – May 2010