Today, NOLA reports that this venture has met with nothing but red tape. Shocker.
Part of the problem, as I suggested before, lies with the Jones Act. The Ecoceane boats are French vessels. They are able to work near the shore which would violate the three mile barrier imposed by the Jones Act. Some of the boats are larger and can also work farther out which seems to clear them from the Jones Act, but eventually they must hook up with an American port to offload the oil. Back to square one.
The law prevents foreign crews and foreign ships from transporting goods between U.S. ports; in the Deepwater Horizon case, the "port" would be where the oil is collected offshore. Allen has said that many of the foreign-flagged boats are working the spill more than three miles offshore, meaning they would not be carrying oil to a separate port on shore.
"While we have not seen any need to waive the Jones Act as part of this historic response, we continue to prepare for all possible scenarios," Allen said. "Should any waivers be needed, we are prepared to process them as quickly as possible to allow vital spill response activities being undertaken by foreign-flagged vessels to continue without delay."
But [Chief Exective Eric] Vial of Ecoceane, the French oil spill response company, said the Jones Act and other difficulties getting through to BP prevented his company from putting boats to work sooner. He has boats that could work offshore, but also smaller models that would be best suited in shallower inland waters within the three-mile limit.
What Vial ended up doing was selling nine of his boats to a Florida company in order to circumvent the Jones Act. He explained that Ecoceane could have sent smaller vessels that can work closer to shore but they could not be assured access. Vial said, "To respond to the crisis, whether it's BP or the U.S. government, they may have created too many administrative steps and barriers that are making the whole process much lengthier."
Like I said, too many cooks in the kitchen.
Thad Allen continues to insist that no Jones Act waivers have been requested. NOLA reports that six are pending:
As of last week, no Jones Act waivers had been granted. According to the joint information center for the response, six vessels involved in oil containment have applied for Jones Act waivers that are still pending.
(Photo credit: ELIOT KAMENITZ / THE TIMES PICAYUNE)