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JONES ACT AND GULF SPILL
Is the Jones Act slowing Gulf Spill clean-up efforts?

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July 18, 2010

A Whale won't be part of Gulf response

After an extended trial period, Federal On-Scene Coordinator Admiral Paul Zukunft announced that the giant converted ore/oil carrier A Whale will not be deployed as a part of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill response.

The 1,115 foot long super skimmer went through an extensive operational review by a multiagency team under the supervision of the U.S. Coast Guard. The report concluded that after significant effort, the amount of oil recovered was negligible, and limited oil beyond a sheen was found in the cargo tanks."

"While its stature is impressive, 'A Whale' is not ideally suited to the needs of this response," said Admiral Zukunft. "We appreciate the ingenuity of the TMT team to try to make this innovative system work under these unique conditions. This is the largest oil spill response in our nation's history and we will continue to attack the oil as far offshore as possible with our fleet of hundreds of skimmers, controlled burns, and effective use of dispersant."

Bob Grantham, spokesman for TMT Offshore, said the A Whale concluded its final battery of tests Friday.

"The ship demonstrated that it can bring substantial volumes of capacity to bear in addressing oil spills, and can do so quickly and with great maneuverability," he noted. But "the particular conditions present in the Macondo spill did not afford the vessel the opportunity to recover a significant amount of oil. In large measure, this is due to the highly dispersed nature of the oil in the Gulf. When dispersants are used in high volume virtually from the point that oil leaves the well, it presents real challenges for high-volume skimming.

"We have learned much over the last several weeks about how to build a high-volume super-skimming task force capable of addressing oil spills wherever they may occur in the future. What our experience now tells us is that future oil spill response protocol should deploy super-skimmer capacity as soon as possible and as close as possible to the source of the spill. In this fashion, effective organic containment of oil can be undertaken without substantial use of chemical dispersants. Thereafter, and in more judicious application, dispersants can be used as needed.

"We intend to continue to work with our colleagues at the Coast Guard, the Navy, and elsewhere in the U.S. government, along with experts and authorities around the globe, to modify and perfect super-skimmers.

"As Mr. Nobu Su, the CEO of TMT Offshore has remarked, 'We came to the Gulf with a sophisticated piece of equipment at no cost to taxpayers or BP to see if we could assist the communities and environment of the area. While conditions we found in the Gulf limited the A Whale's effectiveness, we intend to put what we have learned to good use as part of a global solution to oil spill response wherever future incidents may occur.'"


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