Why Did The U.S. Refuse International Help on The Gulf Oil Spill?

asiablues's picture

By Dian L. Chu, Economic Forecasts & Opinions

Despite the vow by President Obama to keep the Gulf oil spill a top priority until the damage is cleaned up, 50 days after the BP rig exploded, a definitive date and meaningful solution is yet to be determined for the worst oil spill in the U.S. history.

So, you would think if someone is willing to handle the clean-up with equipment and technology not available in the U.S., and finishes the job in shorter time than the current estimate, the U.S. should jump on the offer.

But it turned out to be quite the opposite.  .

U.S. Refused Help on Oil Spill

According to Foreign Policy, thirteen entities had offered the U.S. oil spill assistance within about two weeks of the Horizon rig explosion. They were the governments of Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations.

The U.S. response - Thank you, but no thank you, we've got it.

"..While there is no need right now that the U.S. cannot meet, the U.S. Coast Guard is assessing these offers of assistance to see if there will be something which we will need in the near future."

Blame It On The Jones Act?

Separately, Belgian newspaper De Standaard also reported Belgian and Dutch dredgers have technology in-house to fight the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but the Jones Act forbids them to work in the U.S.

A Belgian group--DEME-- contends it can clean up the oil in three to four months with specialty vessel and equipment, rather than an estimated nine months if done only by the U.S.  The article noted there are no more than 5 or 6 of those ships in the world and the top specialist players are the two Belgian companies- DEME and De Nul - and their Dutch competitors.

The U.S. does not have the similar technology and vessel to accomplish the cleanup task because those ships would cost twice as much to build in the U.S. than in the Far East. The article further criticizes this "great technological delay" is a direct consequence of the Jones Act.

What Is The Jones Act?

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 is a United States Federal statute that regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports. Section 27, also known as the Jones Act, deals with coastal shipping; and requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.

The purpose of the law is to support the U.S. merchant marine industry. Critics said that the legislation results in increased costs moving cargoes between U.S. ports, and in essence, is protectionism,  Supporters of the Act maintain that the legislation is of strategic economic and wartime interest to the United States. .

European Service Sector - Offshore Subsea Specialist

As discussed in my analysis of the oil service sector, the European companies typically possess the knowhow in offshore and subsea; whereas their North American counterparts excel in onshore drilling and production technologies.

So, it is more than likely that European firms do have the expertise to clean up the spill quicker and more effectively as DEME asserts.

Since the Jones Act means the Belgian ship and personnel cannot work in the Gulf, it does seem the Act has inhibited technology and knowledge exchange & development, and possibly prevented a quicker response to the oil spill.

Jones Waiver Time

On the other hand, waivers of the Jones may be granted by the Administration in cases of national emergencies or in cases of strategic interest.  It would appear the U.S. government's initial refusal to foreign  help most likely stemmed from a mis-calculation of the scale and deepwater technological barriers for this unprecedented disaster, and/or perhaps ..... pride.   

Whatever the rationale, and if De Standarrd's claim that the Jones Act forbids the European companies to help fight the spill is true, it is high time the U.S. government grant the Jones waiver, and let this be an international collaborative effort. 

It's always better late than never.

Economic Forecasts & Opinions

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Blues Traveler's picture

If you didn't like Bush your going to hate Obama huessien... 

benb's picture

Posted in error-removed

caconhma's picture

Obama and his WallStreet puppeteers are totally incompetent in running the country. The same is going for the Congress.

Only things they know very well are how to


  • Lie
  • Get "donations" [aka bribes]
  • Steal
  • Destroy the country and its economy
The bottom line: the USA cannot survive in its present form. Elections will not do a shit. Are Bush people were any better than Obama people?  Yes, Bush/Cheney were total criminal POS but Obama and his puppeteers are outright dangerous. PS OK America, you got a "change". Now, enjoy it!


P-K4's picture

It is ironic how we (US) rapidly fly in to assist world disasters with little red tape, bringing in a wealth of supplies, food and emergency aid but with our own backyard disaster, we are refusing outside help.

I was under the impression we were busy tapping the minds of the brightest and best. Was that limited to Ivy league schools only ? A growing number of observers believe this is the prelude to cap & trade legislation and while I think they are right, they may be missing a key point.

IMHO, I think TPTB will bury cap & trade legislation in some kind of Gulf Clean Up & Prevention Bill and anyone opposed to it will be targeted come November. It will be like fighting the healthcare bill,  "how dare you deny 46 million uninsured common folks their right to healthcare ?"  

"Open and Transparency" really means murky waters, slick operators, under the blanket of oil, and open season on taxpayers & businesses.



SmittyinLA's picture

LOL like the UN can help.

free_as_in_beer's picture

Shock doctrine, never let a crisis go to waste. 

How about we abolish our protectionist immigration policies and banking laws as well?

halelauncher1940's picture

I agree with Soul.  The lack of effort to stop the oil gusher has to be part of "The Program"  No one, not even our government can be this incompetent.

Jake Lamotta's picture

pride "cometh" before the fall & this disaster will bring the USA on its knees.  Obama swallow your pride & seek the help needed so that the poor wildlife does not get exterminated.  Poor sea animals and birds being sentenced to death because the president cannot humble himself and seek assistance from another experienced nation.

sgt_doom's picture

Oh....I see....only illegal Mexicans and British Petroleum Brits can work there?????

Why do I have extreme difficulty in taking this post seriously?

Hmmmm...evidently this is the ONLY law the gubmint is obeying.....certainly no member of our criminal congress has ever heard of .......conflict-of-interest?????

Thoreau's picture

America is God; and being God, is omniscient and infallible. Now that's the power of pride.

RockyRacoon's picture

You may have put your finger right on the problem.  Pride, and fear of being responsible.

Clycntct's picture

When your inside the box how are you going to see what's outside the box.

It would do our world good to put this thread  out to all contacts just to bring the possibilities of thought to all that we encounter.

RockyRacoon's picture

EURO chart indicates a move soon :

Say, scary clown dude, you got a chart that will predict my bowl movements?

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

bowl movements indeed!  Now you can't go back and change it Rocky, lol.

If he charted MY bowl movements..., well let's not go there because it would not be pretty...

RockyRacoon's picture

... it would not be pretty...

Mine as well.  Why do you think I wanted some predictive charting?!

Joe Shmoe's picture

Also because Sarah Palin says we can't trust those old foreigners to our great nation.

DosZap's picture

Sarah has more Patriotism in her left toe pinky, than this Admin, or ANY one in it.( If they have any at all).Which I seriously doubt.

If left to her, we would be a hell of a lot less dependent on drilling at 5k feet for oil, and Anwar would have been cooking long ago.

Seems like all they have focused on is how can we F* up this place faster, and more completely?.

Done a damn spot on job thus far......much to my chagrin.



docj's picture

Ah yes, the snowbilly.  So powerful and influential she can drive policy even when she's not currently serving in public office, in any capacity, anywhere.

Truly a Wonder Woman, she.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

H/T to you docj!  Took care of Joe quite well.  Carry on.

Soul's picture

Because they are not really interested in stopping this. It is all part of the program.

moneymutt's picture

Thanks, good question...we did same thing during Katrina...MX and Cuba right there with their own version of Coast Gaurd helicopters like ours to pluck people off roofs, dump them off at airport...but no, we can't let them help us, better people die.

Fix It Again Timmy's picture

"By now it should be clear to anyone: This government 'help' has made things dramatically worse, just as government reliably makes things worse in all spheres of life that government involves itself in. For many reasons, coercive government is the worst way to do anything. Like gravity, Ringo's Law {The Beatle} is a built-in rule of the universe, omnipresent and unavoidable. There is no country on Earth where the Law is not conspicuously on display: 'Everything government touches turns to crap'."

merehuman's picture

The gulf is a crime scene. the criminal is in charge of the crime scene. How rare!

The government cannot do a better job, but they can insert the priorities of our nation rather than BPs attempts to obfuscate and minimize the damage verbally while attemps to mitigate the disaster are inadequate.

Chemtrail the air, poison the waters and ruin the economy. All man caused and beginning to look like a mass suicide  or an alien plot to get rid of us.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Every day it seems like the news gets worse (both in the Gulf and everywhere else).

I hope that Cog Dis's chapters on our collective & individual insanity will be a spark to help us save the USA and the whole world.

We are doing it to ourselves in so many ways.  May God have mercy on us.

Miss Expectations's picture

Because we have to execute all the stupid ideas first.


The Amount Of Neurotoxin Pesticide Corexit Sprayed By BP Tops 1 Million Gallons


cossack55's picture

If you like a good novel, try "The Last Gasp', vintage 70s' but oddly topical again.


PS Author   Trevor Hoyle     $0.01 used on amazon

Seal's picture

Uhhhhhhh, because that way Congress and the "administration" - RAHM - can get more 'campaign contributions' from the oil companies?

faustian bargain's picture

Why? More government jobs, and higher GDP.

Ripped Chunk's picture

Because we are arrogant, know-it-all fuck sticks?

williambanzai7's picture

Why are they using volunteers and part timers instead of the military to protect and clean up the shoreline?

Pump up the job figures.

Sudden Debt's picture

12$  a hour. Even my cleaning lady makes more.

augmister's picture

In the words of Ram Emanuel, "Crisis creates opportunities..."   Cap and Trade?  VAT?

Sudden Debt's picture


I guess these last 2 year created TRILLIONS of opportunities! :)

Rick64's picture

Can we please help, before you pollute every goddamn ocean on the planet?

DosZap's picture

Or, to be totally cynical, the worse it get's the better it is for CRAP & TAX.

I put NOTHING beyond the scope, and designs of this administrations asperations, and end game visions for US. 

It's for ALL the marbles.................ALL.

Not just the US, but the entire world.

cossack55's picture

Another wide-awaker.  So many on ZH, the place is the ZH Zone.

Mesquite's picture

Ya, events are bad enuf..But still worth keepin an eye on the chessgame overall..

The last time this was entered, it was pounced on, quickly swept under the rug..But notice the date...May 1,2010..(Nuclear option mentioned then..) However, upon reading all the thoughtful posts here, not so sure about that option.. 


And now...Interesting 'transparency'...


ZH..glad ur back up..fear one day u won't be..till then it's 'One day at a time..'

Appreciate all...

RockyRacoon's picture

The dispersal agent Corexit 9500 is a solvent originally developed by Exxon and now manufactured by the Nalco Holding Company of Naperville, Illinois that is four times more toxic than oil (oil is toxic at 11 ppm (parts per million), Corexit 9500 at only 2.61ppm).  In a report written by Anita George-Ares and James R. Clark for Exxon Biomedical Sciences, Inc. titled “Acute Aquatic Toxicity of Three Corexit Products: An Overview” Corexit 9500 was found to be one of the most toxic dispersal agents ever developed. Even worse, according to this report, with higher water temperatures, like those now occurring in the Gulf of Mexico, its toxicity grows.

A greater danger involving Corexit 9500, and as outlined by Russian scientists in this report, is that with its 2.61ppm toxicity level, and when combined with the heating Gulf of Mexico waters, its molecules will be able to “phase transition” from their present liquid to a gaseous state allowing them to be absorbed into clouds and allowing their release as “toxic rain” upon all of Eastern North America.

Reports are also coming from the United States that their government is secretly preparing to evacuate tens-of-millions of their citizens from their Gulf of Mexico States should the most dire of these scientific warnings start to come true.

DosZap's picture


They will be Evacing a corse if they try that shit on me, or a lot of other  Texans.

If I get Evac'd I  willbe the one to decide.

BHOLE, has an ACE up his sleeve, he's just waiting to spring it......

Sespian's picture

Knowing that this exact same thing happened 31 years ago and that the exact same failed attempts to stop the leak (in order I might add) FAILED, makes one think there is more than coincidence happening on this stage.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHmhxpQEGPo  Something is amiss...

RockyRacoon's picture

Ixtoc was in about 200 feet of water!  If the reported plumes are actually there, a HUGE amount of oil is coming from this disaster.  The use of the dispersant just keeps it below the surface, so the sun and heat can't break up the oil.  Wow.  Imagine the slick that could develop if all that oil had surfaced!  Nine months of this spewing monster could be...  Well, use your imagination.

knukles's picture

Now you're gettin' it! 

Sudden Debt's picture

My wife works for De Nul as a geo programm analist and they are THE BEST!

They actually have experience with thing like this. They made the palm three islands, the world, they are dredging 4 new seaports in Korea, Mexico, China and Iraq.

They work for almost every big middle east oil company in building refineries, oil rigs, these guys are the best geo engineers in the world.

They already send out plans to cap the leaks 3 weeks after it was aired!

De Nul even says they can cap it in 4 to 6 weeks!


Gordon_Gekko's picture

Because perhaps the US Government is nothing but a WORTHLESS PILE OF CRAP?

cossack55's picture

Hey, GG, I know many piles of crap and on their behalf I take umbrage at you for comparing the to my friends.  If you wish to compare the goobermint to a WORTHLESS PILE OF FIGGYDOWDY thats ok.

bigkahuna's picture

This article is going to claim that the "Jones Act" stopped them? These guys operate daily and have done so for decades--in a daily and routine mannor--in violation of the US Constitution. How does anyone think they have to abide by any written rule. What a bunch of bs.

gmrpeabody's picture

Because perhaps the US Government is nothing but a WORTHLESS PILE OF CRAP?


Why make insulting comparisons like that , Gordon. That pile of crap did nothing to you.