Patterico's Pontifications


“A Whale” Oil Skimmer Heads for Gulf

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 10:15 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A massive oil-skimming ship is headed for the Gulf:

“The ship — the length of 3 1/2 football fields and 10 stories high — is designed to collect up to 500,000 barrels of oily water a day through 12 vents on either side of its bow. It docked in Norfolk en route to the Gulf from Portugal, where it was retrofitted to skim the seas. The ship and its crew of 32 were to leave Virginia waters Friday evening.

The owners of the “A Whale” said the ship features a new skimming approach that has never been attempted on such a large scale. They are anxious to put it to its first test in the Gulf.”

The ship will need a Jones Act waiver, EPA approval, and review by a “number of government agencies” before it could begin work. It will take 3 days for the ship to travel to the Gulf and they hope to have approvals by then.

Crazy optimists.


49 Responses to ““A Whale” Oil Skimmer Heads for Gulf”

  1. wow that was a superfast response to a burgeoning crisis I think… yay Obama! You’re so commanding and in charge no wonder you’re president.

    happyfeet (19c1da)

  2. EPA approval? What, because the skimmer’s attempts just might foul up the Gulf with pollution?

    For godsake, are we not at the what have we got to lose stage of the game yet?

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  3. I agree, Dana. We’re at the “What have we got to lose?” stage for a lot of things, including this oil spill and finding ways to save money and reduce the deficit; secure the border; stop the bailouts and other quasi-legal actions that make businesses and markets nervous …

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  4. If Propeller Head were even 5% as intelligent as Chris Mathews thinks he is, that skimming tanker (and a few others) would have been here about 60 days ago. And those horrid pictures of the coastline would not be.

    But Propeller Head hates Southerners b/c they don’t vote for his party any mo.

    HeavenSent (a9126d)

  5. But, maybe an alternative is Propeller Head hates Southerners ….

    HeavenSent (a9126d)

  6. I bet that Dyson vacuum cleaner guy is jealous…

    Seriously, why couldn’t these skimmers get the oil and save it? It can’t be a total loss. That is, after the gummint finishes its review (this decade?).

    Patricia (160852)

  7. should we start a pool on just how long it will take this ship to get approved?

    this vessel may be an “unprecedented solution”, but if it gets out there anytime soon, that will certainly be “unexpected”.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  8. According to government sources, this vessel will not be given permission to enter the spill area.

    1. The Coast Guard is unable to certify that the correct number of life jackets and fire extinguishers are on board.

    2. The Department of the Interior is unable to certify that the civil rights of threatened sea turtles have been given adequate consideration. There are also alarming reports, currently under investigation, that skimming operations may threaten already endangered polar bear populations in the spill area. Government studies into these allegations are currently under review and should be completed by March, 2012.

    3. The Labor Department is unable to confirm that the crew are all certified as union members, all guaranteed a Living Wage, ruling out any hope of a Jones Act exemption. Overtime, paid maternity leave, and pension benefits are still under heated discussion.

    4. The Environmental Protection Agency is unable to certify that this vessel does not release poisonous carbon dioxide in excess of agency guidelines. Negotiations concerning the purchase of Carbon Credits are under way, but no agreement has been reached.

    5. The White House cannot permit access to the spill area until ship owners can prove that they are all registered lifelong Democrats who support President Obama in every thought and deed.

    bobdog (166386)

  9. This is not a joke. Any number of marine species could disappear from the Gulf for generations. Boycott BP gas stations. Teach these multinationalists a lesson. In responsibility.

    nk (db4a41)

  10. I know people say gas station boycotts are foolish, but I can’t bring myself to buy from a Citgo.

    BP really did a lot of damage to our country. I’m going to continue using their stations for … 1 year. That’s enough time for franchisers to switch to someone else. By then BP may not even exist anyway.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  11. Collection of the BP oil spill was never a “skimming” operation. Both underwater plumes of oil and surface oil must be collected. “A Whale” will merely collect the surface oil.

    BP and USCG will eventually use tankers to collect the oil that has been released into the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the Deepwater Horizon blowout of April 20, 2010. Unfortunately, this decision will be made after the devastation of many coastal communities.

    Since May 17, 2010, Renergie, Inc. has submitted unsolicited proposals for the purpose of using three Panamax class crude tankers for the collection and onboard separation of the BP oil spill to every federal agency, state agency, state elected official and federal elected official with even a remote interest in the BP oil spill. These tankers are capable of collecting and separating both surface oil and the underwater plumes of oil.

    The USCG response to Renergie’s proposal stated, “Unfortunately, the Coast Guard does not currently have a mission and is not hiring contractors. However, if BP requests names, I will recommend and forward your company.”

    The blowout of April 20, 2010 aboard the Deepwater Horizon was clearly preventable. The fact that the BP oil spill has been allowed to reach coastal areas is inexcusable.

    For a clear understanding of the issues involved, visit:



    Brian J. Donovan (240787)

  12. Not much is getting done in the gulf, but at least it’s creating ten thousand pieces of paper each day so the bureaucrats have plenty of material to send up and down the chain of command.

    Doug (8eb13d)

  13. By the time the Whale gets all the paperwork needed to operate it will be next year. This technology was offered 3 days into the spill and denied now that it is 63 days or so into the spill it is still not approved. It would be logical to assume that the Whale would have to wait at least 60 days before it can begin. Don’t count on the EPA to do much after all their responsible for the cat converter on cars which run at about 1000 degrees each and then we complain about global warming. Think about that every new car made after 1975 runing at 1000 degrees how much heat would that be?

    R Horning (24b36b)

  14. Two things, one serious and one seriously tongue firmly panted in cheek.

    First, I saw a blurb about the aftermath of the previuously largest oil spill (in peacetime) in the gulf some years ago that affected Mexico and some of Texas. Things are definitely not back to normal, but the area did start to bounce back much sooner than anyone expected, so that’s good.

    Second, I think we’ve been looking at this the wrong way, if we really want to get something done:

    1. We find someone to start selling “Recoverable Oil Futures”, securities based on the eventual profit from reclaiming the spilled oil. Of course, the primary parties of this company must contribute to the Democratic Party.
    2. Jindahl and anybody else that wants to run boats with reclaimation equipment need to hire at least some Muslims to man the boats, Obama would never let a scene be made by American Coast Guard sailors attempting to stop a humanitarian ship with peace loving Muslims on Board.

    With that, my friends, consider the problem solved.

    MD in Philly (5a98ff)

  15. The gulf coast beaches of the south eastern United States of America and all of the American shoreline and coastal wildlife there are a beautiful area and a home to many good Americans.

    tp (3bac69)

  16. If this vessel only operates offshore, the Jones Act does not apply. If it is desirable to offload the oil-water mix at a tanker port, necessary oil spill response vessels are exempt from the Jones Act, and an exemption will be given promptly. (No one has requested an exemption for any vessel so far.)

    The EPA would come into play only if the vessel plans to discharge polluted seawater into the Gulf. Then there is a rather strict standard of purity to be met. As far as I can tell, this is the only way that federal law or regulation might get in the way. EPA has already ruled that polluted water may be discharged upstream from the skimmer collection point–in other words, they could pump it forward of the bow. However, I think the regulation should be suspended for the duration of the incident.

    Everything you’ve heard about the Jones Act messing up the response is misinformation stemming either from ignorance or from political malice. Numerous foreign-flagged vessels are already involved in the response, including the primary collection vessel Discoverer Enterprise.

    Gobbet (9f28be)

  17. Seriously, why couldn’t these skimmers get the oil and save it? It can’t be a total loss. That is, after the gummint finishes its review (this decade?).

    Gloria (9f8447)

  18. The old “no one has asked for a waiver” spin, how hilarious.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  19. gobbet – So Obama’s administration did not specifically reject the Dutch offer of 12 skimming vessels on the second full day of this disaster more than sixty days ago?

    I don’t expect you to answer.

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  20. “Numerous foreign-flagged vessels are already involved in the response, including the primary collection vessel Discoverer Enterprise.”

    Gobbet – The Discoverer Enterprise is a drillship, not a collection vessel.

    daleyrocks (1d0d98)

  21. I just got here. Is Gobbet a parody ?

    Mike K (82f374)

  22. I think there’s something to what Gobbet is saying, but it raises a lot of new questions. I’ve posted something new on it.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  23. What you did, DRJ, was show that the “No one has asked” Jones Act spin is just spin. And you did a great job of it.

    The trolls will continue to repeat it, nonetheless.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  24. It’s plainly an issue if our would-be heroes think the Jones act applies.

    Obama could simply waive it an eliminate the issue. If it doesn’t apply, but is creating chaos, he should waive it. Simple. Of course, it does apply in many areas and unions are mad about the idea of wasting their slice of this crisis.


    Dustin (b54cdc)

  25. RE: #13, The catalytic converters on automobiles don’t create any additional heat. They simply capture heat from the engine’s exhaust gases.

    Maxwell (278701)

  26. BTW, no one has cited a single specific case where a skimmer has been kept out of the Gulf due to the Jones Act, because there haven’t been any specific cases to cite. That, of course, hasn’t kept the conservative misinformation mill from repeatedly asserting that this is a Major Problem.

    Maxwell (278701)

  27. Great talking points, Maxwell. Strangely enough, the rest of us read the linked article in which the A-Whale’s owner/operator said the ship needs a Jones Act waiver:

    The company said it also needs a waiver of the 1920 Jones Act, which limits the activities of foreign-flagged ships in coastal U.S. waters. The A Whale is Liberian-flagged vessel.

    Grantham said TMT was hopeful it could secure the necessary approvals during the ship’s three-day passage to the Gulf.

    I guess they didn’t get the talking points.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  28. Maxwell, thanks for being the four millionth troll to deliver the talking points.

    But we already know that they are spin.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  29. So Maxwell, if it was not for the Jones Act then why did the Obama administration deny, in sriting, an offer from the Dutch to provide skimmers? The Norwegians? Mexico?

    Is there some other reason besides the law that causes Obama to act in such a way as to make this disaster worse?

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  30. Obama will now have to allow this ship to work outside the Jones Act. Which should be repealed.

    Mike Nenni (fc8d82)

  31. Seems to me the important thing is to get the oil up its already indangered 4 states with oil to come ashore and ruin beaches birds and sea life let the ship do it’s job to collect the oil how much more could it hurt the envirement get it done

    louis233 (4e0dda)

    please see my above blog.

    Turn commercial ships into giant oil skimmers promptly

    I submitted the related white paper to Deepwater Horizon Response on Jun.20, and 22. but still waiting for the reply. personally urge to collect the oily water under the water

    Frank H.Q. Wang (18cfc4)

  33. #25,”RE: #13, The catalytic converters on automobiles don’t create any additional heat. They simply capture heat from the engine’s exhaust gases.

    Comment by Maxwell — 6/27/2010 @ 5:55 pm”

    Are you saying that the burning of the complex combustion products in the converter does not release heat? If this 1,000 degree plus heat is just from the exhaust then why does a normal exhaust system not get this hot. Reduction and oxidation reactions both produce heat.

    Machinist (497786)

  34. Perhaps boycoting the labor unions might get Obama to approve releasing the Jones Act. Seem sthe money they put into his presidency is the only thing in the way of getting real help

    Scott Watkins (bcef91)

  35. truthfully Obama doesn’t want this spill to stop. Obama truely wants americans to pay 10 dollars a gallon for gas to pay for his clean energy bull crap. And guess what? The green jobs going to be created? Made in China.

    john (10cd57)

  36. Are any of you people aware that this ship was not finised being converted until about 10 days ago.

    John Olson (a14e6b)

  37. John Olson,

    I assume your point is the ship didn’t get approval before now because it’s new, but we knew it’s a new ship from reading this portion of the article that I linked in the post:

    He said the ship was engineered to skim oil shortly after its construction in South Korea this year after he recognized the “catastrophic” oil spill would require extraordinary measures.

    Until recently, the Obama Administration hasn’t been open to any offers of assistance. And as far as I can tell, this ship is still on the wait-list.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  38. Think some of the responses are interesting. If Obama doesn’t do anything he is a bad man. If he does do something, he is still a bad man. Regardless, A Whale skimming ship was originally a tanker for oil. The owner of the ship decided to make the ship into a oil skimmer after the oil spill happened. What a nice gesture. Maybe people should not be so quick to judge, typical Americans.

    Ronny (feb551)

  39. Red tape is dumb.

    M (17eef7)

  40. Good news/Bad news: The White House says A Whale is in the Gulf and they will give it try after they resolve the EPA and other regulatory issues.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  41. “…after they resolve the EPA and other regulatory issues.”

    Someone forgot to tell The Lightworker that he is now the President, and that he has the power to single-handedly resolve these regulatory issues by Executive Fiat with the stroke of a pen!

    What a Maroon.

    AD - RtR/OS! (1ed577)

  42. Typical American’s ? I would expect a bit more but you must not be from America ? Obama has spent 3 Trillion dollars and America has lost 8 million Jobs. This is Change ? Man is a complete Joke and needs to step aside and let someone who know what he is doing take charge. I have worked all the Hurricanes including Katrina and never have I been so disgusted with the adminstration that is in there now. The coast guard is going to try the Whale tomorrow and see if it get’s there OK ??? WHAT’S WRONG WITH TODAY ???

    Scott Watkins (bcef91)

  43. Speaking of “stepping aside”…
    With the death of Robert Byrd, who is the President Pro-Tem of the Senate now (3rd in succession after Bite Me and the Princess)?

    AD - RtR/OS! (1ed577)

  44. A Taiwanese-flagged vessel, named “A Whale,” which is 3 1/2 football fields long and looms 10 stories high – outfitted with 12 vents on either side of its bow, which experts hope will be able to suck up as many as 21 million gallons of oil-tainted water each day in the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster – has offered its services in the attempted clean up.

    So will the President Kick Ass and get the permissions needed expediated?

    justmeint (bb7c8b)

  45. How much oil is spilling every minute? Too much. I live in pensacola. I moved here 4 the beach, I love 2 fish, dive and just b around the ocean. We got hit a week ago, and I haven’t been back. The prez said he was gonna make it right. He isn’t. Bp and the coast guard r hiding the oil by dispersing it and sinking it so they will both look like they r doing their jobs. I have a friend skimming oil. He came in to the dock one day with a full load. Bp told him they were working 2 hard. What bs? We the locals want 2 do whatever we can 2 clean THEIR mess up, even 4 free. But 4 some ungodly reason, they won’t let us. This govvernment and bp make me sick 2 my stomach literally. And 2 think I voted 4 obama. Please don’t hate me 4 it.

    chris (6ca166)

  46. U.S. House of Representatives
    111th Congress
    Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
    July 1, 2010
    Item 1…While Administration officials have maintained … that “nobody has come forward with a Jones Act Waiver [request],” the Deputy Administrator of the Maritime Administration confirmed that one foreign flagged skimmer has made a Jones Act request, which was denied ostensibly because American vessels could perform the same functions. Moreover, local officials reported that to their great disappointment, Norwegian skimmers en route to the Gulf were turned around. A St. Bernard official bluntly stated that he and other local responders were “salivating over the prospect of getting this equipment.” These anecdotes call into question the claim made by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that “if somebody down there needed a ship from the Netherlands or somewhere else the President and Admiral Allen would waive the Jones Act in 10 seconds.”…

    Item 2…On April 30, 2010, the Netherlands offered the use of four oil skimmers, which have the capacity to pick up 146,000 barrels per day of oil. The offer was reportedly refused because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not authorize the use of equipment that allows water mixed with oil to be pumped back into the ocean, a process referred to as “decanting”.*** The issue is whether the skimming vessel is required to have a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, or waiver from the permit, before it can discharge decanted water.
    After a seven-week delay, the U.S. government finally reconsidered the offer and the Dutch ships have been permitted to operate in the Gulf….
    *** In July 2009, the U.S. Coast Guard transmitted the One Gulf Plan to “Gulf Plan Partners” and specifically recognized the importance of decanting oily water at the source. The One Gulf Plan states that:
    Decanting is a vital part of the recovery process. The inability to decant water from recovered oil/water mixtures and return the excess water into the recovery area significantly reduces the volume of available temporary storage capacity; thus, reducing the effectiveness of the onwater skimming and recovery operations. The inability to return the excess water containing some amount of oil will delay recovery operations and possibly lead to a complete cessation of recovery operations until additional temporary storage can be arranged. It is essential that the return of oil and oily water associated with the mechanical recovery process be clearly authorized so that responders are not placed at legal risk when carrying out recovery operations.

    LOU LAWRENCE (9906c4)

  47. White House efforts more focused on stopping bad press than on addressing the disaster at hand
    U.S. House of Representatives
    111th Congress
    Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
    July 1, 2010
    …The White House furnished an official timeline of events on May 5, 2010. The White House published this timeline on its blog “in the spirit of transparency so the American people can have a clear understanding of what their government has been and is doing to respond” to the oil spill.
    The White House blog details a number of assets deployed in the region to combat the spill. This includes vessels, boom, and dispersant. The number of assets claimed, however, does not appear to match what is actually in the field. Parish officials maintain that the thousands of vessels cited in the blog are non-existent. One senior official refers to them as “phantom assets.” When asked to elaborate, he explained that when he asks the federal government to provide the location of its assets, it either refuses or cannot do so. Daily helicopter search grids performed by the Parish sheriff’s department confirm to him that very few of the assets claimed are deployed.
    This is corroborated by Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who shared a similar story with investigators. BP and Coast Guard provided Mr. Nungesser with a map of the Gulf allegedly pinpointing the exact locations of 140 skimmers cleaning up oil. Sensing that the chart may have been somewhat inaccurate, Mr. Nungesser requested a flyover of the assets for verification. After three cancelled trips, officials admitted to Mr. Nungesser that only 31 of the 140 skimmers were ever deployed. The rest were sitting at the docks. According to Mr. Nungesser, the chart appeared to have been fabricated.
    …The lack of equipment at the scene of the spill is shocking, and appears to reflect what some describe as a strategy of cleaning up oil once it comes ashore versus containing the spill and cleaning it up in the ocean. As a result, significant resources are apparently not being deployed to prevent contamination of vulnerable

    LOU LAWRENCE (9906c4)

  48. i think w should let these bP guys work on the beaches picking up all this oil coming ashore since they dont want no one to touch thier oil, and just leave it on the beach someone will get it .could BP be the next Ivan the terrible making the the beaches of of our gulf coast look like crap once again. As we did before we will return our coast line to its once beautiful with or without BP=Bad Politics

    mrfrank (1db2c1)

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