Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Drowned in Black Gold

If you believe the oilmen, you just cannot get enough crude oil; the drill-baby-drill-baby crowd has certainly penetrated the political establishment. Silly Sister Palin and now even President Obama are on the Big Oil band wagon. Obama extended leasing rights on more offshore sites a few weeks ago. And now he is up to his eyeballs in the unending Louisiana oil slick from the BP offshore disaster, he has decided to review and delay the implementation of his decision.

Obama is certainly a one-step forward two-steps backward sort of flaky decision maker. This is evident in his Middle East Israeli, Iraqi and Afghan foreign policies, as well as his health care train wreck and his financial regulations fiasco. Thank goodness, however, he has walked back his decision to end Don' t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy at least for now.

On April 20, 2010 a semi-submersible exploratory offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded after a blowout, and sank two days later; it killed eleven rough-neck workers, and resulted in a significant oil spill. All southern gulf states are threatened; the coast of Louisiana, with its Mississippi ecological delta area is in particular danger of contamination.

The oil rig, owned by Transocean, Ltd., is leased and operated by BP who is the majority owner of the oil field. The company originally downplayed the size of the leak at about 1,000 barrels a day, but later accepted government estimates of a leak of at least 5,000 barrels a day; it could be more. A complete failure of the wellhead would mean 100,000 barrels a day leaking into the Gulf, unlike a leaking oil tanker with a precise volume of crude. With this leak in the crust of the earth, it is impossible predict the amount of black gold escaping. So this is a BIG problem. When it comes to off-shore oil leaks, the BIGGEST ever.

Google reports: “Seeking to blunt criticism of its emergency response BP indicated on April 30 that it would harness all of its resources to battle the oil spill, spending $7 million a day with it's partners to try to contain the disaster. BP was running the well without a remote-control shut-off switch used in two other major oil-producing nations, Brazil and Norway, as a last-resort protection against underwater spills.

The use of such devices is not mandated by U.S. regulators and their efficacy remains unclear due to the rarity of major offshore oil-well blowouts. The U.S. Government gave the responsibility of the incident to BP and will hold it accountable for costs incurred in containing the situation."

After this disaster, I believe the remote-control-shut-off switch will be required by the US. The so-called cement collar fail-safe installed apparently by Halliburton failed here as it did recently offshore in Australia. So the Trust Me, environmental impact statements by oil companies are bullshit; this misrepresentation should be ended or the greasy politicians responsible for oversight should be tarred and feathered.

The Washington Post reported "The administration yesterday put Adm. Thad Allen in charge of the overall response, replacing Rear Adm. Mary Landry, who had had some deer-in-the-headlights moments on TV and had initially declared that there was no leakage at the bottom of the gulf."

You must wonder if anybody in the US government has any idea of what is going on or how to fix the leak. One thing appears certain; the US government with all its resources, cannot fix the leak and it must rely on the wonder boys who caused the leak to fix it. Also, you can expect BP to find a scapegoat; it is one of the biggest corporations in the world and has a record of escaping controversy. Like the coal companies, it is cost effective to pay the fines rather than fix the problems.

The dilemma for the American citizen is who to trust. It is obvious that Big Oil is in the game for profit and screw the environment. State run enterprises in Communist/Socialist regimes in Central Europe, the Balkans and USSR promoted ecological disaster feverishly trying to fulfill state-mandated 5-year plans without environmental control. China and India are now both first-class polluters.

For the US, to regulate energy companies tightly, it has to be done as you would an utility: when they violate the rules, break them and jail the leadership. However, this requires political courage in the face of big buck opposition. Such courage does not exist in the US.

Shrapnel poll of the week. Which conglomerate is the biggest enemy of the people? Big Oil or Big Banks? Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big banks are the enemy. At least oil companies actually produce something tangible. Big banking is smoke and mirrors propped up by the government. Big oil provides more jobs and they are held accountable. (Well, not this time, there is a cap on how much BP will be required to pay out). I have much less disdain for the oil companies. If congress hadn't implemented the liability cap after the Exxon Valdez incident, BP would have been liable for billions. That kind of hit would keep any CEO in line. I don't really understand the hate for the oil companies. They provide a valuable resource to the world. Banks on the other hand are at best a necessary evil.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is obvious that Big Oil is in the game for profit and screw the environment."

I don't think this has to be the case. We don't need more regulation. We just need to remove the cap on liability damages that congress put in after the Valdez accident. Believe me, the threat of billions and billions in damage awards would have kept BP in line. And if not, the stock holders would have made the CEO and his crew pay for their mistake. This still may be the outcome. Feds are threatening to make BP pay for all damages. How they do this with the current law seems dicey, but who knows. The law has never been a deterrent to Obama in the past.

Blogger Bob said...

Big banks... Big oil...

It's like trying to choose between vanilla or chocolate... It's all ice cream.

I think you left one out... Big government.


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