Louisiana’s biggest enemy this weekend? 10 to 15 knot winds out of the southeast, pushing thousands of barrels of oil into sensitive and already threatened wetlands of the Mississippi Delta. The blowout, fire, and rig sinking in the Gulf, bad enough on their own, has developed into the oil industry’s, and indeed, the United States’, nightmare scenario – uncontrolled flow of 5,000 barrels a day of deepwater crude washing ashore in environmentally sensitive areas after a blowout that killed 11 innocent workers.
A $600 million technologically advanced drilling rig, highly trained personnel, over 175,000 feet of containment boom, dozens of clean up ships, aircraft delivered dispersants, controlled burns, and $6 million a day of cost have done little to protect these sensitive shores from this threat. ROV’s have been unable to close the BOP on the sea floor likely because of tools blocking the rams. 5,000 feet of riser, with drillpipe inside, lay on the ocean floor between the sunken rig and the wellhead. This disaster has gone from a well control situation to potentially the worst ecologic disaster in the US in over 30 years.
I predict (without much risk, I might add) that President Obama’s proposal to open more offshore areas for exploration will be DOA. Even though we desperatey need expansion of domestic sources of hydrocarbons to give us more time to develop nuclear and alternative fuels, no politician on Capitol HIll will have the stomach to support the President’s plan after this mess. We wiil continue to send $500 million a day to countries who hate us while we stick our heads in the sand, drive more gas guzzlers, and policically beat each other over the head, going further into do-nothing gridlock. Once again, the oil industry is on the wrong side of a critical issue, just recently opposing new oversight to prevent these kinds of accidents. The industry continues to be its own worst enemy, opposing formal regulation in favor of “voluntary” compliance while complacency contributes to, or indeed causes, the worst offshore accident in a generation.
Jesus, what a disaster.
Note: Tonight, I was on the Leslie Marshall show talking about this disaster with guest host, Karl Frisch. I’ll post the interview when I get a copy.