Is Alf missing an important bit of something in news of a long-overdue American ultimatum?
The bit that says “or else we will do something drastic?”
He has been reading a report in his Herald today from a place called Orange Beach, Alabama.
The report is accompanied by a picture showing crude oil from the spill washing ashore on the beach.
He imagines the good people of Orange Beach, Alabama, are very keen indeed to have the oil gush stopped before they have to renew it Black Beach, or some such.
They will be grateful to know, therefore, that the full muscle of the American Administration is being brought to bear on BP.
Yep. The United States Government has given BP until tonight to find ways to speed up efforts to contain huge amounts of oil gushing from its ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico.
Strong stuff. That’s got to be an ultimatum.
Whether BP has cause to tremble is not so clear.
Coast Guard Rear Admiral James Watson is reported to have sent a letter to BP officials on Saturday expressing frustration with the overall pace of the effort and ordered the company to identify ways to expedite the process in the coming days.
But what will be done if the deadline is not met?
Will the US boycott British imports? Go to war with Britain?
As most of us already know:
BP has struggled with several efforts to contain the oil. The latest cap installed on the blown-out well is capturing about 2.46 million litres of oil a day, but large quantities are still spilling into the sea.
Scientists have estimated that anywhere between about 151 million litres and 413 million litres of oil have gushed into the Gulf since a drilling rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers and triggering the worst oil spill in US history.
The US Coast Guard has brought out its big guns and – ha! – has been writing letters.
It initially sent a letter to BP on Thursday asking for more details on its plans to contain the oil.
BP responded, saying a new system to trap oil spewing from the well should be complete by mid-July. The new design, meant to better withstand the force of hurricanes, could capture about 7.57 million litres daily when fully built, the oil giant said.
And so Rear Admiral Watson sent another letter to BP officials expressing frustration with the overall pace of the effort and ordered the company to identify ways to expedite the process in the coming days.
He was concerned that BP’s plans did not maximise resources or “go far enough to mobilise redundant resources” in the event of an equipment failure or another problem.
“BP must identify in the next 48 hours additional leak containment capacity that could be operationalised and expedited to avoid the continued discharge of oil,” Watson wrote.
But a BP spokesman said the company received Watson’s letter and would respond as soon as possible.
So we do know the admiral can look forward to receiving another letter.