The official website of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council

Press Briefing May 21

Press Conference


Lt. Cmdr. Rob Wyman, U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Public Affairs


Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry, Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District, U.S. Coast Guard

Lars Herbst, Regional Director, Mms Gulf Of Mexico Region

Charlie Henry, Scientific Support Coordinator, National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration

Doug Suttles, Chief Operating Officer, Bp

Friday, May 21, 2010

OPERATOR: (In progress) – introduce you to our host for today’s conference, Lt. Cmdr. Wyman. Thank you. You may begin.

LT. CMDR. WYMAN: Thank you. Good day everyone and welcome to today’s press conference. I’m Lt. Cmdr. Rob Wyman and I’m the chief of the joint information center here.

With us today is Rear Adm. Mary Landry – L-A-N-D-R-Y – federal on-scene coordinator. Mr. Lars Herbst – H-E-R-B-S-T – regional director of MMS’s Gulf of Mexico region. Mr. Doug Suttles – S-U-T-T-L-E-S – BP’s chief operating officer. And Mr. Charlie Henry – H-E-N-R-Y – NOAA’s scientific support coordinator.

We’ll begin today with opening remarks. After the remarks we’ll take questions from the members of the press here in the audience. And at that point, we’ll go to the callers who dialed in today.

And again, if I could just do a quick review of the ground rules. If you could please silence or turn off your phones. Please raise your hand and wait to be called upon so that we can bring you the microphone as we are recording this audio today. Please provide your name and your affiliation when called upon. And if we have any additional time at the end of this, we’ll take follow-ups or we’ll also maybe try to work in some follow-ups during the press conference as well.

Following the briefing, there will be various representatives to stay behind and answer any questions that we weren’t able to get to. Thank you.

REAR ADM. MARY E. LANDRY: Good afternoon everyone. We are very involved in cleanup, as you know, from what we’re seeing oil coming ashore in Louisiana. And I spent the evening at Houma and I also spoke with the president of Terrebonne Parish. This is Louisiana’s farther most west parish. It is having some oil strikes.

It’s important to know that from the beginning we’ve really been aggressive in trying to make sure BP meets their responsibilities in terms of this response. And I was disappointed from the issue in Terrebonne Parish, where we see the boom had been prestaged and skimmers were there, but folks were hesitating in deploying that.

And we definitely had discussions with both BP and with Coast Guard because we have a responsibility for federal oversight of this response and making sure that everything that’s out there is deployed and ready to meet the oil and fight this spill. And we’re doing that and we will continue to do that.

So we’ve taken some extra steps last night and this morning to ensure that as this oil reaches shorelines farther west of the Mississippi that we are there and ready to meet the oil. I can say that the other places – Chandelier, Breton Sound, the Mississippi wildlife refuge area and the South Pass and areas like that in Louisiana, we have had very good and successful and aggressive cleanup operations. And this has continued over the last several days and the weather has cooperated with us.

But right up front I’m going to say that we were a little disappointed in the work in Terrebonne Parish. So we’re going to redouble the efforts and really work with BP to ensure that that parish gets the same kind of resources and the same kind of attention that the other parishes in the other areas of Louisiana are getting.

The oil fight offshore is going well. As I said the last few days, we’ve had very good success – very good success with burns, very good success with skimming on the water. And these are ideal conditions for skimming. What normally you would get a 10-percent success rate with skimmers, we’re getting 50 to 60 percent of the oil through skimmers offshore.

And that is because of the weather, remarkably due to the weather. And the burn rate was very significant, the percentage of oil that we burned and the length of time we were able to burn was very significant. And we’re still using subsea dispersants, so we’re not seeing a lot of oil coming to the surface.

So offshore and fighting this oil offshore as much as possible is succeeding and hopefully that will improve the challenges we face along the Louisiana coast over the next several days, once we meet the oil that has hit the shoreline in the outer edges of these parishes, hopefully we will not be followed by significant onslaughts of oil on the shoreline.

I know everybody is very concerned and there’s a lot of tension towards the flow rate. And now that you have the idea and this is both on our website and it’s on BP’s website. And we encouraged BP to release that video. Now that you can see what’s emitting from the well, we are all very concerned about what the amount of oil is that’s actually been emitted. We’ve been fighting this spill for a month now. We know we’ve had good days offshore and bad weather that’s challenged us, but we are all very concerned about the actual amount of oil. And this does influence things down the road.

But right now, what’s most important is we have stood up a national technical team, a federal technical team, a flow-rate technical team that consists of the best scientists from both the federal government and the academia, including the gentleman from Purdue, who had initially done his estimate. This team is taking all the information they can. We’ve written the letter to BP. They’ve been fully – they’ve made their video footage fully available. They’ve made other data and information fully available. And we’re taking our own data and information that we have been sampling and collecting since day one of the spill. And this team will put together a very important report about what we think the actual estimate is of the oil emitting from this well, from this damaged riser.

And in the course of that work, they are going to have it peer-reviewed and it’s going to be given rigorous oversight and rigorous attention by the federal government and by academia so that we can have a very, very accurate estimate of what the flow rate was emitting from the well.

I’ve always said – and I’ve said this from day one; if you go back to the tapes, you’ll hear the same song – our doctrine requires that we prepare for a worst-case scenario. So we have mobilized from day one for a worst-case scenario response. I can tell you that regardless of the scientific process for determining the flow, regardless of the work that will be done, our mobilization and our work is not constrained and our resources and our tactics are not constrained by any flow estimate.

The weather continues to cooperate as I said offshore and we’ll continue to really work, press towards hoping they can secure the source. That’s probably the most important thing on all our minds as we go into the second month of cleanup. We really hope to – BP can secure the source.

And I remind you, again, that there are other federal agencies and the best minds in Cabinet-level agencies very involved in oversighting this process. BP also has technical experts and from companies from around the world. Everybody is trying to work towards making sure that this well can be secured and I think that we are united in that effort.

I want to, again, remind everybody that from the beginning, we’ve had a great team of people working together – federal, state, local, private sector people that are working very hard on this challenging response. And we will not rest, even if they secure the flow, even if this top kill is completed successfully next week, we will not rest. We have a long row to hoe, we have a lot of work to do in terms of continuing this response and making sure that the damage and the impact is mitigated and documented. And we will stay here as long as it takes us to do that. So thanks very much and I think we’ll turn it over to MMS, Lars Herbst. Thank you.

LARS HERBST: Thank you Adm. Landry. I’d like to say that the MMS staff and engineers at the incident command center in Houston as well as MMS engineers here at the area command are reviewing the step-by-step procedures for the critical top-kill method of securing the source of this oil spill.

Every potential situation that could arise from the implementation of this top kill moves forward, must be anticipated, analyzed and accounted for before MMS approves the complete plan for this procedure to begin. And that is moving along very well at this point. By being onsite and providing the key input to the technical procedures that the engineering team at BP has assembled, MMS can ensure that reviews are being done as thoroughly and quickly as possible to secure the source.

Let me assure that MMS’s priority from day one has been and continues to be to stop the flow of oil at the sea floor and to ensure multiple alternative procedures are identified and pursued to accomplish this. Although our primary focus will be on progressing the top-kill procedures to execution early next week, we continue to work other options with BP. These include other containment options such as hot-tapping the riser and crimping the riser. Additionally, other options are capping the well with a BOP on top of a BOP type scenario. Those are being pursued as well at this time.

On the relief well drilling, the first well is now at about 8900 feet, 8950 feet and drilling ahead at this time. On the second relief well, MMS is currently onsite with inspectors that are witnessing the blowout preventer testing on that well and that should proceed after that point. Although a full investigation of this incident will take some time to complete, the Department of Interior is working on interim recommendations that we plan to act on to improve offshore operations. With that, I’d like to turn it over to Mr. Doug Suttles with BP.

DOUG SUTTLES: Thanks, Lars. Just to start with, I’d like to describe earlier today, late this morning, I took a flyover of the scene with Gov. Riley from Alabama. I’m very pleased to report that there is no oil anywhere close to the Alabama, Mississippi or Florida coastline. This is a credit both to the offshore activities and to the weather and then the natural currents of the Gulf of Mexico, but that’s very good news.

As the admiral has already mentioned, our offshore efforts are making great progress. The weather has a big role in that and we’ve had very outstanding weather and it’s almost flat calm offshore again today, so I expect they’ll have another good day today.

In visiting with Gov. Riley, he, as you can imagine, stressed the critical importance of getting the flow from this well stopped as quickly as possible. And of course, that’s what we’re all focused on doing.

Our offshore activities have used a number of tools. In fact, the only tool we were unable to use over the last couple of days was the application of aerial dispersants. We need some natural agitation coming from wave action and it’s been too calm for that.

But as the admiral has already mentioned, the other techniques have been very successful – whether that be burning or whether that be the application of subsea dispersant or actually our skimming activity. Yesterday, we skimmed over 13,600 barrels of oily water mixed with a high concentration of oil. We’ve accumulated now over 200,000 barrels of oil water mix, which is in excess of 9 million gallons.

Our riser insertion tool is working well. Over the last 24 hours, we recovered just short of 2,200 barrels of oil and 15 million cubic feet of gas. So once again, over the last 24 hours, it was 2,200 barrels of oil and 15 million cubic feet of gas. And of course, that’s over 2,000 barrels of oil that never reached the sea, which is very good news and we’re very pleased with that and we’ll continue to try to optimize that tool to increase the rate we recover.

The relief well activity Lars has already covered, but both wells are currently drilling and drilling ahead and making good progress, the first well slightly ahead of schedule.

The top-kill activity is the next opportunity to try to stop the flow from the well. We have several posters here in the room to help people understand what that activity is. So both describe what will be on the seabed as well as what will be on the surface.

We have a large amount of equipment currently on the scene today: Three ultradeepwater rigs – these are all massive drilling rigs. Multiple subsea support vessels – these are the vessels which the ROVs, which at any time we can have up to 16 working at one time.

That’s 16 robotic submarines at one time. In addition, a large skimming fleet. The Q4000, which is a semi-submersible vessel, we will use to actually pump the top-kill operation. And one of the posters here, the one closest to my right, will show the surface equipment associated with that. This is a massive amount of equipment.

This activity involves pumping heavy drilling mid – this is a thick, viscous mixture of fluid that weighs roughly twice the density of water and we’ll pump that at very high rate to overcome the flow and ultimately bring the well to stop flowing. And after that operation, we’d intend to pump cement to keep it from flowing again. Should stress this hasn’t been done in 5,000 feet of water before. This operation has been done in land operations or shallow water, but it has never been done at these depths before and that presents unique problems.

Our current forecast for when this operation will take place will be sometime early in the coming week. Our best estimate at the moment is probably Tuesday, but I would stress that these operations are quite complex and we won’t start the job until all of the equipment is staged and everything is in place.

And as Lars has already mentioned, we still have other options to both contain the flow and to stop the flow. And we continue to progress those even while we’re using the riser insertion tool to contain the flow and we progress top kill.

Our near-shore activities were also quite successful. Yesterday we deployed another 55,000 feet of boom. That makes a total of over 1.5 million feet over 300 miles has been deployed so far. And as the admiral mentioned, we’re quite fortunate both through our own efforts offshore and near-shore, but also through the weather. We have only had oil show up on seven locations onshore and no new locations in the last 24 hours. And cleaning activities are underway at all locations where oil has come to shore.

Lastly, I’d just mention our efforts with communities. Our pre-cleaning activities of beaches have resulted in over 225 miles of beaches being cleaned, predominantly with help from volunteers. We’ve paid over $25 million in individual claims. We have over 1100 vessels of opportunity; these are privately owned vessels supporting our operations. And we’ve received over 74,000 phone calls to our hotlines and over 20,000 e-mails to date.

That’s the update for today and I’d be happy to answer your questions.

LT. CMDR. WYMAN: We’ll go ahead and open up to the audience with any questions at this time.

Q: Greg Bluestein with the Associated Press. What exactly are you doing to prepare for the top kill? What types of equipment is coming in? I know you mentioned it briefly, but can you give us more details about sort of an outline of what the procedure would look like?

MR. SUTTLES: Right, so there’s two set of activities going on, some on the seabed, which I think we’ll have after the press conference a video showing some of the operations going on down on the seabed. These are hooking up lines to two lines on the blowout preventer, one called the choke line and one called the kill line and these would be the lines we pump into the BOP with this heavy fluid. We’re making those connections. We’re hooking up the manifold, the device for bringing the flow into to pump into the blowout preventer.

And we’re also staging the equipment on the surface. This includes, as you can see in this drawing, a very large barge, which will have the drilling mud on it, and two very large pumping vessels that will have, I believe, in excess of 50,000 hydraulic horsepower available for the pumping operations. So we’re staging equipment and we’re finalizing the activities on the seabed to hook this up.

Some of those activities – the staging on the surface is a big activity, but the unique one, the one that’s very difficult to predict the amount of time each step takes, is actually the stuff on the seabed because you can imagine we’re doing all this with these robotic submarines.

Q: I’m Paul Murphy from WWL TV. Over the last couple of days, last three days as a matter of fact, we’ve seen that heavy, thick oil washing its way into swampy areas, marshland. And then just yesterday we saw it on Elmer’s Island and then this morning on Grand Isle. What is the plan to clean up the oil once it gets into that marshy area? It’s already killing grass and there’s some fear that some of these marshes will be dead within a week if the oil isn’t pulled out. And if you’re cleaning already, how much oil have recovered from these marshy areas?

MR. SUTTLES: Okay, the cleaning techniques we’re using right now, to my knowledge, the only marshy area which has got oil in it is Pass-a-Loutre. I’m not aware of any other marsh locations; they are all beach locations.

The Pass-a-Loutre, the cleaning technique we’re using is shallow water skimmers. These are devices which can be placed in the open water and recover the oil off the top. We’re using sorbent boom and after we do all that, we’ll follow that up with fleshing techniques. And that activity is underway as we speak. We’ll try to clean that as quickly as we can.

On the beaches, the normal technique to clean beach areas is actually using shovels and rakes and collecting it into trash bags and then properly disposing of it. So those are the activities taking place just now.

Q: How much oil have you recovered from the marsh?

MR. SUTTLES: I don’t have a number on that. When we skim oil, the admiral referenced this earlier, we collect an oily water mix. Usually that’s in the form of an emulsion and it takes time for that to break. It goes to tanks and ultimately we’ll be able to gauge those tanks, but I don’t know a number right now.

LT. CMDR. WYMAN: We’ll take the question.

MR. : I want to follow up.

LT. CMDR. WYMAN: Oh, I’m sorry. Charlie.

CHARLIE HENRY: It’s Charlie Henry with NOAA, just to follow up a little bit. One thing to keep in mind with each of the different habitats that we have, especially in Louisiana where we have a lot of sensitive habitats like our marshes, like down in the Bird’s Foot Delta: Each habitat – even different types of marshes, different types of shell beaches or sand beaches – each of those is treated differently.

And down in Houma and likewise in Mobile, the environmental unit there, which is composed of both state folks from wildlife and fisheries and DEQ and federal folks, developed a specific guideline for cleaning up those areas. And the goal of that guideline is such that we don’t cause any more harm than the oil itself.

And so that’s why you’ll see different techniques in different places because the last thing we want to do in some of these sensitive marsh habitats is get too aggressive, trample the marsh, cause physical impact to that marsh, which will actually cause even greater long-term damage.

And so the key thing is that each habitat is actually developed uniquely by the SCAT teams – you heard that name – and their job is really to find the best way to get the oil out in the most environmentally friendly way and do no more harm than good.

Q: What are the options?

MR. HENRY: Okay, there’s – I think Doug did a good job of going through the first cut – (inaudible) – but I’ll also say that when you’re dealing with marshes, you have to work with Mother Nature. You don’t work against nature, which is not always the same on the beach. And what I mean by that is, one of the techniques that we try to do – and this was kind of explained a little bit yesterday – is that you try to put a box around where the contamination is. If it already got past your first line of defense, you try to contain it in that location so it doesn’t migrate as secondary pollution to impact another area.

Second is there is a flow of water in those marshes. Tides move the oil in and out. And so you take advantage of Mother Nature so when the tide is ebbing and falling, then we’re in position that we start to collect the oil like with skimmers just as Doug identified. And when there’s nighttime, we don’t have people working in these areas at night – we put passive sorbents in there, so when the oil does come out, we collect it passively and then pick those up the next morning.

And as said, some areas are prudent that we can use flushing to kind of herd the oil to be more effective and collect it up. But it’s always driven by working with nature and doing no more harm than good. And then that’s one of the reasons that there’s actually – the function of the SCAT team is to develop those procedures so that we have the trained experts help guide the cleanup crews.

LT. CMDR. WYMAN: Any other questions from the audience?

Q: Russell Lewis from NPR. Mr. Suttles, you talked about the 2200 barrels is what you got out of the last 24 hours. That’s down from previous days. What’s the reason for the decline?

MR. SUTTLES: It actually hasn’t declined. The average rate since we started has been 2,000 barrels per day. At times we’ve reported different rates because the rate fluctuates quite widely on this tool, I think of a low of just above a thousand barrels a day and for short periods of time even as much as five (thousand). So it’s better to actually look at a 24-hour period because it’s more representative of what’s taking place. But the average since we began, if we take out the short period of startup, has been just under 2,000 barrels per day.

LT. CMDR. WYMAN: Do we have any other follow-up questions from those that are –

Q: I’m sure you’ve heard over the last week or so a lot of the public officials in Louisiana begging for the permits to create these enhanced barrier islands. The 80 miles worth of islands that we’ve seen down off of Elmer’s Island, it really does work in collecting some of that oil before it gets into the marshland.

Is the Coast Guard prepared to start moving dredges offshore Louisiana to be ready to build these islands, fix these cuts that have been developed over the last couple years during storms so that once the permit comes down, they are able to jump right on it and start fixing up these barrier islands?

REAR ADM. LANDRY: There is going to be a call to Gov. Jindal this afternoon from the national incident commander discussing the proposal for the barrier islands, so I don’t want to get ahead of that call. I can’t say that what was done – work with the National Guard in the Elmer’s Island area and other areas is there have been small-scale berm and sandbag dikes that have been put across a couple inlets to protect inside marshes.

And then there’s also work going on on a smaller scale for that kind of barrier work. And that’s going on right now and it was done ahead of time. We had a very good photo on our website that you can see where that bridge that they built across an inlet that had been closed before but was now open actually captured the oil before it went into the inside marshes. So I think there is some good local work going on right now.

Q: Do you sense the frustration out there in the timing of this? It’s been more than two weeks now that there’s been requests to go ahead and start working on these barrier islands, to the extent that you have one parish president already threatening if he doesn’t get the permit by today, going ahead and doing it on his own without a permit?

REAR ADM. LANDRY: I sense frustration on the part of everyone around the Gulf Coast and even around the country at what this oil spill brings to everybody. And I particularly sense the frustration in Louisiana because this is an area of precious marshland, wetland, an area that’s been losing coastline, that’s been damaged by storms. So I do sense the frustration. However, we have to really look at this response and support these people as best as possible but proceed cautiously. And I’m introducing any kind of a novel idea or a different idea for how you might fight a spill response. We’re focused on, as Charlie I think gave great examples of, the tried-and-true ways that we plan for response.

And we really specifically, there’s a thing called an environmental sensitivity index that maps the shoreline, tells you where endangered and threatened species are, tells you what types of technologies and what types of spill response strategies work. We are very, very meticulous in executing that.

And I don’t want to get ahead of anybody’s decisions on the permit that the Army Corps was working, but I just want to emphasize that we have the whole of federal and state government involved in this response and respecting very much the existing plans and the existing response strategies that have been tried and true and are being used quite successfully.

We really hope that we can minimize the environmental impact from this spill. We really are – that’s our goal and that’s our promise to you. We will mitigate and minimize as much as possible the environmental damage from this spill.

LT. CMDR. WYMAN: Thank you, Admiral. Operator, at this time we’d like to go ahead and open the lines to callers.

OPERATOR: Thank you. At this time if you would like to ask a question, please press * then 1. You will be prompted to record your first and last name. And to withdraw your request, press *2. Please keep your questions to one per turn. Once again, to ask a question, press * then 1 now. Our first question comes from Aaron Cooper with CNN.

Q: Thank you very much. In general, where do things stand on the EPA’s order to use less toxic dispersant and specifically Sea Brat (#)4, which I believe Mr. Suttles talked about on Saturday. We saw thousands of gallons of it sitting in Houston yesterday. Is that in the chain? Will that be used?

MR. SUTTLES: Yes. This is Doug Suttles. The work on alternative dispersants has been going on for a number of days with the EPA and others. They gave us a formal request about 36 hours ago, which they actually expected a response last night, which we provided. And the request was, were there less toxic and more efficient dispersants available? The dispersant we’re using, Corexit, is actually on the EPA-approved list. It’s actually the most widely used dispersant in the world for this type of activity.

Our analysis that we submitted to the EPA last night said there were not any other dispersants that we could identify that were available that were less toxic than this. We have very specific concerns after we looked deeper into Sea Brat (#)4 with that particular mix and we’ve shared those with the EPA. We’ve given that information to them. And later today we’ll have another conversation with the EPA about alternatives.

LT. CMDR. WYMAN: Next question please.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Anne Thompson with NBC News.

Q: Hi, Mr. Suttles. I have actually two questions for you. So to follow up on the dispersant question, are you saying that you have no other alternative than Corexit? And then the second question is, if you don’t know the flow rate that’s coming from the leak, then how do you know how much material you need to use and at what pressure and what rate you need to jam the well shut using the top kill technique?

MR. SUTTLES: Yes, on your first question, we’re continuing that analysis. They asked us to do as much as we could on the dispersants over the 24-hour period that ended at 9:30 last night. So we’ve submitted that data, but we’re going to continue to look at other options.

There’s a number of those out there, but we actually have to understand more about their composition and look and see if there are proper to use and work that with the EPA. So we’ve completed the work they asked for overnight, but we haven’t stopped and we’ll continue to look for alternatives.

On your second question around flow rate, we have done analysis since the beginning about what we believe the rate is and we’ve talked about that on numerous times. And we’ve said since quite early on in this that our best estimate was somewhere around 5,000 barrels a day but with a wide range.

And actually as we do design for top kill, that same assessment is what we’re designing that (job ?) off of and the same assessment as what we designed the application of dispersants off of as well, subsea. So at the moment, that’s our best estimate, but I would, once again, stress we’ve said this since the very beginning, there’s a huge amount of uncertainty around that number and it could have a fairly wide range.

LT. CMDR. WYMAN: Next question please.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Isabel Ordonez with Dow Jones.

Q: Hi. Thanks again. I also would like to ask two questions if possible. The first one is that can you look at when that flow team report that the government officials are preparing is going to be released to the public? I’ve heard somewhere that it could be maybe Saturday afternoon?

And then regarding the rate, the flow rate of the leak, I just wonder that today you say that the average rate is 2,000 barrels of oil a day and that it could go up up to 5,000, but I did wonder, what about if the spill is larger? So the siphon has a capacity to collect more than 5,000 barrels of oil a day or not? Thank you.

REAR ADM. LANDRY: This is Adm. Landry; I’m going to answer your first question and then we’re going to have Mr. Suttles answer your second. On the first question as far as the technical team, I think there was erroneous information posted on someone’s website that it would be 72 hours and this would be released then.

This team is not going to be rushed or pushed to come up with an answer too quickly because you really have to do a very thorough and rigorous analysis. And this is a federal team that is contracted also in working with academia because this is a very important part of our oversight of the responsible parties. So I don’t want to say specifically Saturday night. I think there was erroneous information posted on someone’s website.

But we’re looking at sometime next week. And as I say, we do not want to be rushing this group because I think it’s so critical that we do get an accurate peer-reviewed estimate of what the actual amount was emitting from this well from this damaged riser from day one. And that will be a very important piece of information that once it is assessed and evaluated and peerreviewed by this team, it will be shared with everyone.

MR. SUTTLES: Yes, and on your question, which was about the rate, I should actually stress that the riser insertion tool over the last 24 hours – so midnight to midnight yesterday – was 2,200 barrels of oil. That was the amount captured in the tool. Additional oil, as you can see from the video, is actually still escaping past the tool out of the end of the riser. That particular tool could produce considerably more and that’s why we continue to try to optimize it to see if we can get more oil from it. And at times we can and at times we get lower volumes.

And part of the reason for that is this well is producing large amounts of gas and when you look at the video, you can actually see the gas. That’s the white material you see bubbling out, typically at higher velocity and it’s tending to come out in slugs. It will come out for a period of time and then stop again. And that’s what’s making it difficult to get more oil out of this particular riser than we are, but we have continued to work that and try to optimize it and we’ll continue to do that as long as we have it operating.

LT. CMDR. WYMAN: Next question please.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Campbell Robertson with New York Times.

Q: Hello. Gov. Jindal of Louisiana has been saying repeatedly that he hasn’t been able to explain why some heavy patches of oil have shown up on coastline when very little oil was seen within several miles of that coastline in hours recently before. I know that NOAA scientists and Coast Guard has said that it is not floating under the water, but the governor said that doesn’t explain that. Is there any sort of elaboration of how that could happen at the moment?

MR. HENRY: It’s Charlie Henry with NOAA. And it’s – well, all I can say is that the oil that we’re seeing that is stranding seems to match really close with our trajectory analysis, which is based solely on aerial observations to map the oil, then reinitialize those models. And you know, so I think what we have been tracking and the impacts we’ve seen do tend to correlate with our trajectories, which are based on oil on the surface.



MR. SUTTLES: Yeah, Doug Suttles here. Now, just to add that I have actually flown over the spill area many, many times. In fact, this week alone I’ve flown over it four times. And there still are strips of emulsion that are moving from the well site towards the Louisiana shoreline. And we’re continuing to fight those and working to better identify them while they’re still offshore and move equipment to intercept them. Our best belief is it was one of those strips which impacted the shoreline on Monday, which is when a number of these cases occurred.

So as Charlie said, we do see some of this. We’ve added some new capacity to our tools this week. Just today, we’ve started a new area of photography survey operation to better identify these patches and be able to better deploy our offshore operations teams to try to intercept them before the shoreline because we’ve said many, many times, we want to fight this offshore before it gets to the shoreline, so we’re going to continue to modify our techniques to allow us to do that.

LT. CMDR. WYMAN: Operator, we have time for two more questions.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Bettina Boxall with LA Times.

Q: Mr. Suttles, Janet Napolitano and Lisa Jackson sent a letter yesterday to BP demanding the release of all the information and data that BP has collected, including that of internal investigations, within a very short period of time. What are you doing in regard to that letter?

MR. SUTTLES: Yeah, first, I should actually stress that this team – in fact, the admiral has already referenced it today – has been working very cooperatively and openly from the start. The information that we have is available to everyone here and in general, that’s the same across the agencies and elsewhere.

And we have some – just in here in Robert alone, we have over 400 people and they all walk in and out of each other’s workspace continuously. We share information and data continuously. And that’s exactly the same case in Houma and in Mobile and in Houston. So there’s been very, very active – since the very beginning – sharing of information and data. We have received a request from Secretary Napolitano and from Administrator Jackson.

We’re going to do everything we can to comply with that. We need to fully understand it and do our best to do that. There is a massive amount of information being gathered through this exercise, an absolutely massive amount of information. And I think we’d all agree: We would not want administrative efforts to slow down our response efforts, so we’ll need to see how best we can meet their request.

REAR ADM. LANDRY: I have to challenge the word, “exercise,” Doug. This is a full response. And I don’t mean to challenge Doug. We’ve all worked very hard together here. But I think part of the letter that Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Jackson sent might have to do with the fact that even though we have full visibility video and we’ve had an open working spaces and we’re compiling tremendous amounts of information for the response, there is information that’s archived in Houston that was requested and there is data that might be possibly being gathered from BP through their own work offshore in this very sensitive environment.

And so I think there has to be full fidelity in organizing and collating all the data that’s being gathered and the federal government wanted to be sure that everything that is available, whether it’s archived or being kept, is made available. And I’m sure BP is going to cooperate with that.

LT. CMDR. WYMAN: Last question, please.

OPERATOR: Our final question comes from David Fahrenthold with the Washington Post.

Q: Thank you. I wanted to ask about the rate of capture from the siphon, the riser insertion tool. Yesterday we were told several different times it was 5,000 barrels a day, not brief periods of 5,000 barrels a day rate, but 5,000 barrels in a day – and that that meant that the overall flow was greater than 5,000 barrels a day. It sounds like today you’re saying something completely different. I wondered what the reason was for that.

MR. SUTTLES: No, we’ve never said it produced 5,000 records in a day and we have complete records since this started up, so I apologize if for some reason you’ve heard it in that way. At points in time – points in time – it’s produced as much as that and other points in time – in fact, we’ve had points in time it was producing all gas and no oil at all.

And that’s why the best way to look at this rate is look at how much has been produced over a 24-hours period and 2,200 barrels is over the last 24-hour period. So yes, at some points in time, we’ve had rates as high as 5,000, but the average is – for yesterday is 2,200 and the average since we started it up is 2,000 barrels per day.

LT. CMDR. WYMAN: Thank you. That concludes today’s press conference. Please remember the imagery that you see here today will also be available on the website, which is Thank you.

OPERATOR: Thank you for joining in today’s conference. That does conclude the call at this time.