In BP Offshore Oil Strike, the first player to earn $120,000,000 wins.
LONDON -- An obscure BP-themed board game in which players aim to avoid rig disasters has become an unexpected hit at a British toy museum.
BP Offshore Oil Strike was released in the early 1970s and allows up to four players to explore for oil, build platforms and construct pipelines. The first player to earn $120,000,000 wins.
Its "hazard cards" include "Blow-out! Rig damaged. Oil slick clean-up costs. Pay $1million."
BP announced Monday that it has spent $3.12 billion dealing with the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The game was recently donated to the House on the Hill Toy Museum in Stansted, Essex.
"The parallels between the game and the current crisis... are so spooky," museum owner Alan Goldsmith told Britain's Metro newspaper. "The picture on the front of the box is so reminiscent to the disaster with the stormy seas, the oil rig and an overall sense of doom.
"I was just knocked over by how relevant this game is, despite being made some 35 years ago, to BP’s troubles today."
Goldsmith said the game is worth about £75 ($115).
Some politicians, like Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, have complained that the Jones Act, a 1920 maritime law that promotes U.S. shipping interests, is prohibiting foreign flagged vessels from entering the Gulf of Mexico to help in the cleanup effort.
"Over 20 countries have offered response vessels and expertise to assist in the cleanup of the Gulf, but because of the 1920 Merchant Marine Act, known as the Jones Act, foreign vessels are prohibited from operating within three miles of the U.S. coastline except after going through an extended process for waivers," Hutchinson said at a congressional hearing Wednesday.
However U.S Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, commander of the federal spill response, says that the Jones Act has not impeded foreign flagged ships from helping out. During a briefing Wednesday, Allen said that the Jones Act had not created "inhibitions or constraints" on the cleanup.
During an interview with msnbc.com Tuesday, Coast Guard spokesman Capt. Ron Lebrec noted that while Allen doesn’t believe vessels need a waiver from the Jones Act to help with the spill, regardless, the Coast Guard has established a expedited process if it is determined that waivers are required.
"The Jones Act hasn’t impacted any vessels coming to this response," he said. "And we have taken proactive steps to ensure it does not become an issue."
It’s the first time that Mississippi has had a major landfall of oil on any of its beaches. Until now, the state had dodged the bullet that has hit Alabama and Florida.
We are heading there now to talk to city managers and residents who, from what we understand at the outset, are quite angry. One city official in Biloxi told me that BP and the unified command had two months to anticipate the arrival of oil in Mississippi and yet they seem to have been unprepared.
He claims that there were no skimmer boats there and very little boom put out – so now there is oil on Mississippi beaches.
Oil hitting this region’s beaches is becoming a recurrent problem that is casting a dark shadow over a usually happy time of year here: summer vacation.
On Sunday, just west of Gulf Shores, Ala., we met Jamie and Jennifer Bible and their family. They had come from Tuscaloosa, to visit their favorite vacation spot. They came there expecting to sit by the water, Jennifer’s favorite pastime, only to find a big dark pool of oil sitting in their favorite spot.
So now they are going to be spending their vacation at the pool and they are not going to let their kids near the water. And Jennifer will not be able to enjoy the ocean because not only is there oil coming in on the beach, but there is oil coming in with the surf. We could see it. There were skimmer boats offshore trying to stop the oil from coming in, but so much was getting past them that it was fouling the shore.
Every day now, oil seems to hit a beach somewhere in either Florida, Alabama or now Mississippi – but it’s hard to predict where the oil will hit next. It’s all the function of wind and current and tide.
The unpredictability is giving city managers fits because they can’t get ahead of the oil. As soon as they clean it up, more comes in, maybe in a different part of the beach then the area they just were working on. It is extremely frustrating for the workers who are out working in the high humidity during the day trying to get ahead of the oil. It is an uphill battle.
Once the oil hits the beach, it’s a big problem on many different levels.
First of all, economically, oil hitting the beach is a death knell for the tourist trade. Once tourists see that oil is on the beaches, they are very reluctant to go there. Condo managers, rental managers, hotel owners, restaurant owners all say that they are being hurt very badly by oil on their beaches.
Physically, it’s tough to get rid of, too. If they don’t get to it right away, new sand brought in by the tide will pile up on top of the oil and then they have to dig below the sand to get to it. If they don’t do that, the oil can sit there, fester and bubble up over time. So it’s a real problem. It leads to staining, it fouls the beach, tourists don’t like it, residents don’t like it and everybody feels it’s inevitable that a lot more will keep coming ashore.
And then there is the impact on wildlife. Everyday there are reports of birds being fouled. We see dolphins swimming out there in the water right near the oil patches. We see large schools of fish very close to shore, in amongst the oil.
So the worry here, in this area famous for its with crystal clear water, pristine beaches and abundant wildlife is that all of that is going to be impacted, in addition to the economic impact.
For tourists who are returning to places they have loved for years and suddenly see oil on their beaches – it’s a real shock. People have told us that they have cried.
Not only is their vacation ruined, but their favorite place is ruined. They feel sorry for the animals and they feel sorry for the people who live here.
It’s a real shock that unfortunately is being suffered by more and more tourists when they get here and see oil on the beaches.
A new containment cap that BP plans to place over the leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico has the potential to halt the flow of crude oil in mid-July, a BP executive said Monday.
In a technical briefing for reporters, BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells said that replacement of the oil containment cap with a bigger cap, which could happen as soon as two weeks, could stop the oil leak under the right circumstances.
“A lot depends on the pressure response we see,” he said. “… If the capability is there to stop the flow, we’ll do that.”
If successful, the new capping operation would cut several weeks off BP’s previous estimate of when it would be able to shut off the leak by drilling a relief well.
West said that the relief well operation is continuing to make good progress and has come within 20 feet of the Macando well that has been spewing oil into the Gulf since April 20. From here, engineers plan to drill another 900 feet or so vertically, paralleling the runaway well and conducting “ranging” tests to ensure they are locked onto the target.
“By running parallel … we are going to know exactly where that well is,” he said. “… Having the ability to do that really increases the probability of success.”
Despite the progress, West declined to move up the timetable for completion of the relief well, which is still expected in early August.
Shrimp boats skim for oil just off the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala., on Friday.
As is the case in almost every disaster, some people are trying to take advantage of the misfortune of others.
NBC station WJHG of Panama City, Fla., reports widespread complaints that recreational fishermen are trying to get into BP's Vessels of Opportunity program ahead of out-of-work commercial fishermen with legitimate claims.
Florida officials report a surge of people applying for new saltwater fishing licenses, which BP requires for anyone entering into the program that pays captains to help make up for the business they've loss because of the spill.
"These are attorneys, doctors who have their boats in the program" illegitimately, says Bob Zales, president of the National Association of Charterboat Operators.
Henry Cabbage, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, confirms that if someone applying for the program doesn't make most of his or her money from commercial fishing, "they aren't eligible."
He says BP is working to make sure those who aren't eligible are weeded out.
The crew drilling the first of two wells ran a procedure this week to confirm it is on the correct path, spokesman Bill Salvin said, according to The Associated Press:
"The layman's translation is, 'We are where we thought we were,'" he said.
Several such tests are needed to determine the relief well's location relative to the well that blew out April 20 when the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded. Once the new well intersects the blown-out one, BP plans to pump heavy drilling mud in to stop the oil flow and plug it with cement.
Salvin said the relief well should be done by mid-August, but that didn't seem to help the company's stock price, which plunged following the company's announcement that the price tag for the response has risen to $2.35 billion.
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of a House panel investigating the Gulf oil spill, says BP won't let his committee talk to several employees who may have critical information about what led to the catastrophe.
Stupak tells The Associated Press there are a half-dozen people his committee wants to question but hasn't been able to because BP is citing its own investigation as a reason deny access to the employees.
As of yet, he says, the panel isn't ready to issue subpoenas.
Kenneth Feinberg, overseer of the $20 billion fund for victims of the oil spill, says he will use federal fraud investigators to sniff out bogus claims and protect personal information because "nothing can destroy the credibility of a program quicker than allegations of fraud."
"How do we deal with a restaurant in Boston that can't get shrimp for its favorite dish or the strip joint in New Orleans where business is off because the fishermen aren't coming in?" Feinberg asks. "... Would your claim be applicable under state and, in this case, maritime law? If the state would recognize it, then I will recognize it. If not, I should not."
In a busy day of interviews and public appearances, Feinberg traveled to LaRose, La., where told an audience it was also important to make sure BP isn't destroyed in the process.
"There is absolutely no sense at all driving BP into bankruptcy," he said, a point he expanded on three days ago in an interview on Fox News:
That would be a horror. If BP ever were — was unable to pay valid claims because of bankruptcy, that would be a disaster for the — for BP, it would be a disaster for the people in the Gulf, it would be a disaster for the economy of the Gulf. I think that is not an option.
And I must say, to those who criticize this fund as somehow driving BP toward the brink, I would only add that this fund is — is, in one sense, a very important lifesaver for BP. ... The alternative is to litigate against BP in court for a decade or more. You don't know if you're going to prevail. You've got to give your lawyer 40 or 40 percent contingency.
It seems to me that this facility — independent facility — is a win for the people of the Gulf and, frankly, a win for BP, as well.
The agency says that under current law, BP payments for lost wages are taxable — just like the lost wages would have been. The IRS says payments for physical injuries or property loss are generally tax free. ...
The IRS is planning to hold forums in seven cities in the Gulf region on July 17 to help oil spill victims with tax troubles or questions.
A woman wearing a T-shirt with an anti- BP message looks over oil-soaked sand on Pensacola Beach, Fla.
While most national news outlets are reporting that Florida's Pensacola Beach is closed, that isn't the case — the Gulf has reopened for swimming along Pensacola Beach after the Escambia County Health Department lifted its health advisory today, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.
The double red flags, which signal no swimming in the Gulf, came down at 10 a.m. ET and were replaced with yellow flags, which are cautioning folks to swim with caution of rough waves, not because of anything to do with oil.
To be sure, the oil is still there. It's just not visible on the beach. "Despite intensive efforts by more than 1,100 workers and heavy equipment to clean thick tar from Pensacola Beach," the News-Journal says, researchers from the University of South Florida discovered that oil is buried about 1 inch to 8 inches deep in the sand.
"It was so horrible yesterday, very thick," Larry Mitchell, who grew up in Pensacola, told NBC station WALB of nearby Albany, Ga. "It makes you want to cry."
UPDATE 12:20 p.m. ET: A senior Obama administration official tells The Associated Press that Biden is expected to visit the National Incident Command Center in New Orleans and the Florida Panhandle.
Apparently, AP says, the trip is beiong scheduled because the White House is eager to show a hands-on sense of command over the oil spill disaster, which has rocked the Gulf Coast and reshaped Obama's presidency.
The Coast Guard says Vice President Joe Biden will travel to the Gulf Coast on Tuesday. No details yet on where he'll go.