Less than four years after the largest single disaster in the history of the oil industry and just one week after a ban to drill in the Gulf of Mexico was lifted by the US Department of the Interior, oil giant BP was awarded license to drill in two dozen separate locations this week as it made winning bids at a federal auction with a total pricetag of $54 million.
The Interior Department lease auction on Wednesday included 326 blocks that received bids from 50 oil and drilling companies.
According to the Associated Press:
BP was the only bidder on a tract a few miles west of [of where the 2010 Deepwater Disaster occured], getting it for $1.2 million. The company was suspended from new federal business after pleading guilty in November 2012 to criminal charges from a major oil spill in the Gulf two years earlier. The suspension was lifted Friday and BP bid a total of $53.8 million on 31 tracts Wednesday, with high bids on 24.
"As the nation's largest energy investor, BP is committed to the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, where we have been an active player for a quarter century and have a multi-billion dollar investment program underway," spokesman Brett Clanton said in an emailed statement. "BP's participation in today's lease sale not only underscores the importance of the region, but it is also a testament to the vital role BP plays in the American economy and to the country's energy future."
BP's highest bid was $8 million for an Atwater Valley tract about 180 miles south of Biloxi, Miss., and 10 to 15 miles northeast of the day's most hotly contested tract — the one for which Freeport-McMoRan bid $68.8 million. The other five bids included Exxon Mobil Corp.'s $45.5 million.
BP didn't bid on that tract, but paid $1.2 million each for two within 20 miles west of it and one just east of its own $8 million purchase.
Subsequently, in an interview with the Real News Network, author and freelance journalist Cherri Foytlin, who has covered te story of the BP Deepwater disaster closely and written a book on the subject, said that BP's return to the gulf is a travesty of justice and an affront to those in the region still suffering from the impacts of the 2010 blowout.
Justice has not been served, says Foytlin. "We are still seeing a large amount of environmental damages here in the Gulf Coast, and the fishing communities are still having low catches, so the communities here and the people here who are dealing with this are continuing to be affected."
"I feel like we're an abused child that's been put back in the hand of the abuser," she continued. "I don't believe that BP is going to go out and make everything okay and safe out there. The track record that they have has not proven to the American people or to the Gulf citizens up to this point that they're serious about making those changes, except for on paper."
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