Tuesday, August 3, 2010

FP morning brief 8/3

New study finds that Gulf oil spill is the largest in history

Top story: A new study estimated that 53,000 barrels of oil per day spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from BP's leaking oil well, making it the largest oil spill in history. The federal team of engineers and scientists estimated that the total amount of the spill was nearly 5 million barrels, dwarfing the 3.3 million barrels of oil released during the 1979 Ixtoc I oil spill.

The scientists determined that the well leaked 62,000 barrels a day at the beginning of the spill, but that the rate diminished as the well's source gradually depleted. These new estimates are considerably higher than the figures released by the first team to analyze the flow from the well, which suggested that between 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of oil were being spilled per day.

The estimates of the severity of the spill have important financial implications for BP: Federal law sets fines at $1,100 per barrel, or $4,300 per barrel if a court determines that the spill was the result of gross negligence. If BP is ordered to pay for 4.9 million barrels, they could be liable for a fine of $5.4 billion -- or $21 billion, if the fee for gross negligence is applied.

Revenge killings grip Karachi: Gunmen killed at least 45 Pakistanis following the assassination of Raza Haider, a prominent lawmaker. Shops and vehicles have also been set on fire by gangs, bringing the city to a standstill.

Introducing the Middle East Channel daily brief: If you're looking for in-depth Middle East coverage, sign up for the Middle East Channel's new daily brief to have the latest news, from Morocco to Iran, sent to your mailbox every morning.

Middle East
Clashes along the Lebanese-Israeli border have resulted in the deaths of at least two Lebanese Army soldiers.
President Barack Obama confirmed that the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq will occur on schedule.
The Israeli government announced that it would cooperate with a U.N. investigation into May's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

North Korea threatened a "physical retaliation" following South Korea's anti-submarine naval exercises near the two countries' disputed border.
New storm warnings have delayed rescue efforts in Pakistan's worst flooding in 80 years.
A team of Taliban suicide bombers targeted a NATO base in Afghanistan.

Two men, including a former member of Guyana's parliament, were found guilty of plotting to blow up fuel tanks at New York City's JFK airport.
Cuban President Raul Castro ruled out wide-ranging economic reforms, but said that some restrictions on private economic activity would be eased.
The leader of the FARC, a left-wing Colombian paramilitary group, said that it was willing to hold talks with Colombia's new president.

A former South African police chief was sentenced to 15 years in prison for taking bribes.
33 people are feared dead after a boat capsized on Lake Albert, off the coast of Uganda.
A former Rwandan official was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a U.N. war crimes court for his role in the country's 1994 genocide.

Hundreds of wildfires are spreading throughout Russia amidst a record heat wave.
A car bomb exploded outside a police station in northern Ireland.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will arrive in Britain for a five-day visit today.
-David Kenner
Mario Tama/Getty Images

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