The Work

June 30, 2010 1:23 PM

Will Bracewell & Giuliani Client Prove to Be Oil Spill Savior?

Posted by Brian Baxter

Bracewell & Giuliani is representing the CEO and founder of Taiwan Maritime Transport (TMT), which claims to have a solution to the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico: a renovated supertanker designed to skim and process between 500,000 gallons and 15 million gallons of oily water a day.

The Associated Press recently reported that the ship, which is appropriately called "A Whale" because it's the length of almost four football fields and ten stories high, docked in Norfolk, Va., on its way to the Gulf. The vessel was retrofitted in Portugal with a new skimming mechanism that allows 12 vents on its bow to separate oil from seawater, according to the AP.

Advising the ship's owner, TMT founder and CEO Nobu Su, is Scott Segal, the cochair of Bracewell's federal government relations practice and founder of the firm's strategic communications group. Segal was out of the office on Wednesday and unavailable for immediate comment, but he told The Huffington Post earlier this week that he was hired by TMT to represent its interests in Washington, D.C.

TMT still needs to negotiate a contract with BP and the U.S. government to join the Gulf cleanup efforts. The company will also need to obtain a waiver of the Jones Act of 1920, which limits the activities of foreign-flagged ships in U.S. waters. A Whale, which was built in South Korea, flies under the Liberian flag.

"[TMT's] intention is to coordinate with federal authorities on a test [of its cleanup abilities], as soon as possible," Segal told The HuffPo. The company will seek to be compensated for any cleanup efforts.

The AP reports that A Whale has the capacity to hold 2 million barrels of oily water, but would limit its intake to 1 million barrels for environmental purposes. Oil skimmed by the converted tanker would then be transferred to another ship, according to the AP.

Of course, A Whale has yet to be tested in the field. See below for a report from in Norfolk, which ventured inside the cavernous ship, on the technology that TMT will seek to implement in the Gulf.

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