Tag Archives: Anadarko Deepwater Horizon

For Money and the State: the internet

internet advertising. image from wikipedia

Rarely has a manifesto been so wrong. “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”, written 20 years ago by John Perry Barlow, a digital civil-libertarian, begins thus: “Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.”

At the turn of the century, it seemed as though this techno-Utopian vision of the world could indeed be a reality. It didn’t last… Autocratic governments around the world…have invested in online-surveillance gear. Filtering systems restrict access: to porn in Britain, to Facebook and Google in China, to dissent in Russia.

Competing operating systems and networks offer inducements to keep their users within the fold, consolidating their power. Their algorithms personalise the web so that no two people get the same search results or social media feeds, betraying the idea of a digital commons. Five companies account for nearly two-thirds of revenue from advertising, the dominant business model of the web.

The open internet accounts for barely 20% of the entire web. The rest of it is hidden away in unsearchable “walled gardens” such as Facebook, whose algorithms are opaque, or on the “dark web”, a shady parallel world wide web. Data gathered from the activities of internet users are being concentrated in fewer hands. And big hands they are too. BCG, a consultancy, reckons that the internet will account for 5.3% of GDP of the world’s 20 big economies this year, or $4.2 trillion.

How did this come to pass? The simple reply is that the free, open, democratic internet dreamed up by the optimists of Silicon Valley was never more than a brief interlude. The more nuanced answer is that the open internet never really existed.

[T]e internet, it was developed “by the US military to serve US military purposes”… The decentralised, packet-based system of communication that forms the basis of the internet originated in America’s need to withstand a massive attack on its soil. Even the much-ballyhooed Silicon Valley model of venture capital as a way to place bets on risky new businesses has military origins.

In the 1980s the American military began to lose interest in the internet…. The time had come for the hackers and geeks who had been experimenting with early computers and phone lines.  Today they are the giants. Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft—together with some telecoms operators—help set policy in Europe and America on everything from privacy rights and copyright law to child protection and national security. As these companies grow more powerful, the state is pushing back…

The other big risk is that the tension between states and companies resolves into a symbiotic relationship. A leaked e-mail shows a Google executive communicating with Hillary Clinton’s state department about an online tool that would be “important in encouraging more [Syrians] to defect and giving confidence to the opposition.”+++ If technology firms with global reach quietly promote the foreign-policy interests of one country, that can only increase suspicion and accelerate the fracturing of the web into regional internets….

Mr Malcomson describes the internet as a “global private marketplace built on a government platform, not unlike the global airport system”.

Excerpts from Evolution of the internet: Growing up, Economist, Mar. 26, 2016

+++The email said Google would be “partnering with Al Jazeera” who would take “primary ownership” of the tool, maintaining it and publicizing it in Syria.  It was eventually published by Al Jazeera in English and Arabic.

A French Kiss? Anadarko Fined for Gulf of Mexico Spill

Anadarko Headquarters. image from wikipedia

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. was ordered to pay almost $160 million for its role as part-owner of the doomed Gulf of Mexico well that in 2010 caused the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
The fine was the last big uncertainty hanging over Anadarko from the disaster. The order on November 30, 2015  comes after the government told U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans that the company should be fined more than $1 billion for its role in the well’s blowout, which killed 11 people and spewed oil for almost three months. Anadarko, which had a 25 percent stake in the Macondo well, argued it shouldn’t be required to pay fines simply because it owned part of the well, as the accident wasn’t its fault. In 2014, The Woodlands, Texas-based company set aside $90 million for the case when it offered to settle for that amount.

Barbier said the fine reflected his finding that Anadarko didn’t have a role in causing the spill. Under the law, he could have imposed as much as $1,100 per barrel of oil spilled, or about $3.5 billion.  The fine is “only 4.5 percent of the maximum penalty, and therefore on the low end of the spectrum,” Barbier said in his order. “The court finds this amount strikes the appropriate balance between Anadarko’s lack of culpability and the extreme seriousness of this spill.”

Barbier rejected Anadarko’s argument that a heavy penalty could cause minority partners to seek a larger role in offshore operations, which might complicate safety and drilling decisions. “A penalty of this size might encourage non-operators to avoid investing with careless operators,” he said.  The company said it’s pleased the penalty is less than what the government sought and that it’s reviewing whether to file an appeal. “While we respect the court’s decision, we continue to believe that penalizing a non-operator for events beyond its control is inconsistent with the intent of the Clean Water Act,” Anadarko said in a statement posted on its website.
David Berg, a Houston attorney who has tracked the oil spill litigation and often sues polluters on behalf of municipalities, said given the damage from the spill, the fine is “not a slap on the wrist; it’s a tongue kiss from the judge.”  David Uhlmann, former head of the Justice Department’s environmental crimes unit, said the fine is “too small to be an effective deterrent.” It “will not have a significant effect on a company worth approximately $30 billion,” said Uhlmann, now a University of Michigan law professor.

The professor said Anadarko wasn’t a silent partner in its dealings with BP Plc, which owned 65 percent of the well.  “Anadarko urged BP to continue drilling deeper, even when BP wanted to stop,” he said. “Yet the judge refused to consider evidence of Anadarko’s risky behavior, which may explain the small size of Anadarko’s fine.”

The government case is U.S. v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., 10-cv-04536, which is part of In Re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL-2179, in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans). (pdf)

See also BP gross negligence,

What Transocean Pays for the Oil Spill in the Gulf

Excerpt from Anadarko Ordered to Pay $159.5 Million for 2010 Gulf Spill, Bloomberg Business, Nov. 30, 2015

How Much Oil Spills Cost? BP and Deepwater Horizon

BP and Anadarko Petroleum Company have reached an agreement to settle all claims between them related to the Deepwater Horizon accident…. The agreement is not an admission of liability by any party regarding the accident.  Under the settlement agreement, Anadarko will pay BP $4 billion in a single cash payment. BP will apply the payment to the $20 billion trust it established that is available to meet individual, business and government claims, as well as the cost of the natural resource damages. Anadarko will also transfer all of its 25 per cent interest in the MC252 lease to BP.  In addition, Anadarko will no longer pursue its allegations of gross negligence with respect to BP. Anadarko and BP have agreed to work cooperatively with respect to indemnified claims, and Anadarko has the opportunity for a 12.5 per cent participation in future recoveries from third parties or insurance proceeds cumulatively exceeding $1.5 billion, up to a total cap of $1 billion.  Finally, the parties have also agreed to mutual releases of claims against each other. BP has agreed to indemnify Anadarko for certain claims arising from the accident. However, BP’s indemnity excludes civil, criminal or administrative fines and penalties, claims for punitive damages, and certain other claims.

“This settlement represents a positive resolution of a significant uncertainty and it resolves the issues among all the leaseholders of the Macondo well,” said Bob Dudley, BP group chief executive. “There is clear progress with parties stepping forward to meet their obligations and help fund the economic and environmental restoration of the Gulf. It’s time for the contractors, including Transocean and Halliburton, to do the same.”  BP previously announced settlements with MOEX, which had a 10 per cent interest in the Macondo well, and Weatherford, which provided drilling equipment.

According to its public filings, BP has recorded a charge in excess of $40 billion for total estimated costs associated with the event. To date, BP has invoiced Anadarko an aggregate of $6.1 billion for what BP considers to be Anadarko’s 25-percent proportionate share of BP’s actual and near-term costs….Anadarko will record a $4.0 billion liability associated with this settlement in its third-quarter 2011 financials……

“Consistent with official investigations that found the accident was the result of multiple causes, involving multiple parties, BP is working to ensure that other parties, including Halliburton and Transocean, contribute appropriately,” says a BP press release. “Multiple official investigations, including those conducted by the Presidential Commission and the Marine Board of Investigation, found that conduct by those parties contributed to the accident. The issuance of regulatory violations last week to BP, Transocean and Halliburton by the U.S. Department of Interior demonstrates that the contractors responsible for well control and cementing, not just the operator, should be held accountable for their conduct.  From the outset, says BP, it has committed to paying all legitimate claims and fulfilling its obligations to the Gulf Coast communities under the Oil Pollution Act. BP has to date paid out more than $7 billion.

BP chief says agreement with Andarko resolves “a significant uncertainty”, http://www.marinelog.com, Oct. 21, 2011

See also http://www.restorethegulf.gov/