May 17, 2020

BP Oil Spill Response Probe Leads to First Arrest

energy digital
Oil
crude
Energy
Admin
3 min
Demonstrators protest the BP oil spill
In the first criminal action charges brought against BP during the Deepwater Horizon probe, the Justice Department announced the first arrest made Tues...

In the first criminal action charges brought against BP during the Deepwater Horizon probe, the Justice Department announced the first arrest made Tuesday of a former engineer for the company, Kurt Mix. The 50-year-old is being charged with two counts of obstruction of justice, and is accused of deleting a string of roughly 300 text messages alerting a BP supervisor to the failure of efforts to cap the well during the 2010 disaster.

A federal investigation into the causes of the blowout, centering around involvement of BP, subcontractors Halliburton and Transocean and all implicated employees, has been a probe of interest for some time. The news marks a shift in focus as prosecutors investigate cleanup efforts shortly following the explosion.

Outrage, frustration and hopelessness continue to plague those affected by the spill, and the announcement rubs salt in still-raw wounds as speculation mounts that BP may have deliberately misled the public. The texts in question mention a rate of more than 15,000 barrels of oil a day spilling from the well, three times the rate disseminated through news media coverage of the event.

Feds Make First Arrest in BP Oil Spill Case

A recovered text reads, "Too much flow rate - over 15,000 and too large an orifice."The message was sent May 26, the day a top kill was put in place in efforts to contain the flow of oil. Public statements released by BP gave the top kill a success rate of 60-70%, but it was not until May 29 that failure of the action was announced.

BP has released a statement speaking of its efforts to cooperate with the Justice Department and said, "BP had clear policies requiring preservation of evidence in this case and has undertaken substantial and ongoing efforts to preserve evidence."

SEE RELATED STORIES FROM THE WDM CONTENT NETWORK:

BP’s Settlement Plan with Oil Spill Plaintiffs

BP Denied Part of Gulf Spill Costs from Transocean

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The explosion, leading to the largest oil spill in U.S. history, killed 11 workers and poured 5 million barrels of crude into the ocean. The leak continued for over three months, paralyzing the Gulf of Mexico and resulting in a class-action lawsuit backed by more than 100,000 claims from businesses and individuals who have suffered resulting economic losses. The $7.8 billion civil settlement is up for preliminary approval by a federal judge Wednesday.

Tom Becker, a fisherman in Biloxi, Mississippi, spoke to Time Magazine about the lack of recovery in the area. He has failed to garner any reservations for fishing trips in the months of July, August and September, busy months which would usually be booked up by the spring.

"I don't trust BP one bit,” Becker told the news source. “That's what I've thought all along. It's like, `What are they trying to hide today?'"

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Jul 13, 2021

Technology revolution for water retailers

Utilities
technology
IoT
digitaltransformation
Paul Williams
4 min
Paul Williams, Chief Technology Officer at Everflow Tech, reflects on privatisation, industry complexities and future for utilities in a digital world

In April 2017, the UK’s water retail market in the world opened for business – the single biggest change to the water sector since privatisation. This development allowed businesses, charities and public sector organisations to shop around for the best deal.
However, like any industry, this change hasn’t been without its sticking points; here, Paul Williams, CTO at Everflow Tech (pictured far right), discusses how retailers can harness technology to their advantage

Our CEO, Josh Gill, set up independent retailer Everflow Water in 2015, and Everflow Tech is his response to the difficulties it faced.

Quotations could take up to a week to produce, billing software had to be manually updated and brokers were unable to manage the complete customer journey in one place – all of which took time, cost money and allowed for human error.

The more complexity that was involved in billing or quoting, the more contact end customers needed to have with their retailers, pushing up the cost to serve for every SPID. This meant retailers – ourselves included – found themselves in a situation where profits were simply eaten up by service costs.

We also note that it can traditionally be hard for retailers to stay on top of balancing what they are charging their customers with what they are being charged by the market. To further exacerbate this, the longer a change goes unnoticed, the more trouble it can be to balance the issue.

It was these issues that Josh and his (at the time) small team wanted to ameliorate, creating their own technology in the absence of anything else.

This technology evolved into our award-winning retail sales, billing and customer management platform for the water retail market, and Everflow Tech was launched as a standalone venture in 2018, selling the software externally for other water retailers and their customers to benefit from.

What retailers want

As a relatively new entrant to the world of utilities competition, the water market could be seen to be lagging behind, particularly when it comes to innovation.

In fact, as recently as 2019, Ofwat said it expected the industry to be making technological advances and to be working with a culture of innovation, collaborating with companies both within and outside of the sector.

And with cost-savings for consumers traditionally lower than for other utilities, retailers need to be offering something more – whether that’s better support, energy-efficiency advice or more accurate data.

What’s more, consumers have had a taste of the power of technology, and they’ve come to expect nothing less from retailers across the board.

Another key issue – thrown into sharp relief during the past 12 months (and counting) of a pandemic – is rising levels of arrears, which are likely to increase bad debt beyond margins that retailers originally allowed for when the market was created.

In such a low-margin industry, there is a limit to the amount of debt retailers can take on, especially as recovering costs can be a very slow process. Ofwat has signalled that this issue could be addressed as early as this year, with a mechanism for recovering bad debt to be established during 2021/22. 

The market needs simple solutions to better serve the end user, and we were perfectly placed to develop those solutions. At Everflow, our software is designed for the water retail market, by the water retail market.

As well as simple billing, clear-to-understand workflows, and a revenue assurance system to allow retailers to quickly compare market charges, Everflow has also introduced a complete debt solution, allowing missed payment dates to drive late payment charges and escalations automatically.

Retailers are able to design and put out their own bill and quotes, tailoring customer journey and overall experience – whatever the circumstances.

What does the future hold?

Automation is key to any industry; we’re heading into an age of driverless cars and smart homes, and this drive for tech will filter through to our industry, and we need to catch up. 

The Internet of Things – a network of physical objects connected to each other – means human error (and effort) can effectively be removed from many everyday tasks, which goes for meter readings too. However, in the 21st century, the water market is still not leveraging previously emerged technology in the form of smart meters to provide accurate billing. 

Consumers are also becoming more empowered, both to ask for information and change their preferences if they don’t like what they learn. Retailers need to be armed with this information, not next week, not tomorrow, but now – and, at Everflow Tech, we’re putting that information at their fingertips.

But the retailers themselves need to speak up too, and we will always work with them to get the best ideas on what needs to be developed and when.

Our strong bond with Everflow Water, along with other key customers, means we have a direct interest in making sure our systems serve the water market in the best way they can. 

For us, the goal is to make sure retailers on our platform can grow as much as possible, leaving behind laborious daily processes to focus on their own strategic growth and, most importantly, helping their customers.

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