I was dumb struck when President Obama announced the plans to explore offshore drilling in many areas, including some in Alaska, yet another campaign promise was broken. I have been working on this post for days, but had a nasty virus with a migraine, so it was delayed. I hoped in the beginning the leak would be contained rapidly. That was of course in vain.

Why after a long history of not following safety precautions, putting political powers in place to make sure they can do as they please, and many in the oil industry being closely tied to some of the CIA’s and other powerful interest’s (banking industry) money laundering schemes would we expand off shore drilling at this point in time? The oil industry is the epitome of everything that is wrong with corrupt unregulated capitalism. It is clear they have control of the regulations, why all they have to do is ignore them until they get another oil industry supporting president elected. Why would we not at least make sure the new regulations were being followed with rigorous inspections before making that announcement? Once again big money interests are being knowtowed to.

First we were told there was no leak with the use of the Coast Guard. Then we were told that 42,000 gallons or 1000 barrels a day were pouring out of a broken pipe in two places. Now the reports are 5000 barrels/day or around 210,000 gallons/day are flowing, with three leaks. The sunken rig could have 700,000 gallons of diesel contained in it and some of it has spilled. It is clear there was no clear cut plan for this type of incident, nor are they sure when the flow of oil will be stopped. Many safety violations have occurred on oil rigs for the whole history of their existence. Why would we decide to pursue new opportunities for drilling off shore when we know they have so many safety issues and the consequences of spills close to shore are so horrendous. The oil companies have been fighting regulations by claiming for decades the money they have to spend on safety prevents them from being able to afford new exploration and drives up the cost of fuel.

In testimony before the Senate environment and public works committee in 2004-NYT:

"Unfortunately, our rising gasoline demand and the need for more domestic gasoline production capacity collide with public policies, local opposition and regulatory obstacles that deter increased domestic refining capacity," Bob Slaughter, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, said in his written statement to the committee.

Michel Ports, an oil executive representing two retail trade groups, said, "Simply stated, the environmental compliance burdens placed on the nation's motor fuel refining industry over the past 20 years have effectively destroyed the world's most efficient commodity manufacturing and distribution system."

They have had crews working to keep the oil contained so it stays away from the shore lines, but as of this morning it has reached the shore. They also tried setting the oil on fire which causes toxic smoke, but is better than having oil on the shores. People in Louisiana say the southern part of the state smells of oil. This leak is going to affect the shore lines of four states. It will affect fishing, shrimping, tourist season, and wildlife. More people on the Gulf Coast are going to loose their livelihood. It is a huge disaster. I am quite upset because some of the most beautiful parts of this country are located on the southern shores and a huge amount of seafood comes from this area. I can hardly bring myself to even think about the wildlife that will be harmed or die. Many states will be affected, but how will Louisiana which has never recovered from Katrina endure another catastrophe?

Now the estimates for stopping the leak is weeks to months. They have been trying to use robot submarines to stop the leaks . It could take three months to drill a relief well. So, the oil will be leaking on into the summer months and then who knows how many years before the fishing industry recovers.

Homeland Security, the Department of Energy and Commerce are opening a joint investigation into alleged violations of safety regulations put in place last year which have had vigorous opposition from the oil industry. The House Committee on Energy and Minerals Management Service are investigating a whistleblower claim over violations of federal laws, laws issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as well as the U.S. Coast Guard. That voluntary safety program the oil industry wants is not working out too well for the rest of us.

The oil industry has been riding roughshod over not just the U.S., but many other countries for a long time. They have used their money to get regulations in their favor. They have used their money and the power it generated to put into place legislators and presidents who supported them, this includes illegal pay offs and favors(like high paying jobs). Some of our pro-oil industry presidents(some were an integral part of the oil industry) were Lynden Baines Johnson, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. The Bush Crime Family who had a huge amount of their business dealings financed by Saudis(Bin Ladens included) invaded other countries for oil. Other presidents have sanctioned murders of people in other countries including democratically elected presidents as well as Coup d'états, so puppet rulers could be placed who would support the oil industry. Countless lives have been lost over a small number of people’s greed. They cause pollution with enormous consequences and are so used to getting their way that they simply do not comply when new regulations are put into place. These people have committed criminal acts without ever having to pay the price due to corporate status, political power, and money.

They put power and money above the well being of not just the people in this country, but the people in any country where they can find oil. In Venezuela they were only getting a very small percentage of the profits for the people of the country and the pollution was being left for them to deal with. Hugo Chavez tried to negotiate more money for the people and the oil companies would not share. So, they had to just throw out the oil companies. Now, the oil industry can be closely regulated and the profits have been used to build schools, health care for everyone, and social security for everyone.

We have seen what happens when there is a disaster. We have also seen what getting restitution from the courts is like, those harmed in the Valdez spill were compensated with only a small fraction of what they lost. We the citizens and tax payers get to deal with the negative consequences.

From KTUU:

Curtis Smith of Shell Oil says, "It's too early to say what exactly went wrong."

It does not matter what went wrong, the potential for wiping out coastal ecosystems is high?

"The clothes are off the emperor. What that illustrates pretty clearly is that you cannot drill safely for oil," said Dan Strickland with the Alaska Marine Fisheries Council.

"The characteristics of the wells we want to drill here in Alaska versus those wells in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, give us tremendous confidence that an incident like that would not happen here in Alaska," Smith said.

Since the waters are not as deep it would not be exactly like the disaster from the Deep Horizon, but there will be leaks in the water eventually from Shell just as there has been on land.

"The oil industry claims that the state of technology is so good that this kind of accident can't happen -- it's just not true. It can happen. It happens with repeated regularity," Strickland said.

While waiting on a few more permits, Shell says its disaster plans for the Beaufort and Chukchi seas include something that the Gulf of Mexico's drilling rigs did not have -- an oil spill response kit.

"Our kit is on-site 24/7: booms, tankers, barges, specialized ice-class vessels to respond immediately in the very unlikely event of a discharge," Smith said.

How is this kit going to sop up the amount of oil being discharged into the Gulf of Mexico?

There are fishermen in Louisiana who have had fishing in their families for generations. Some of them just have small boats, but make enough money to survive. There is also subsistence fishing. They are not trying to get rich, they just want to be left alone to make a living doing something they love in an environment they love. Fishermen in at least four other states would be affected also. Anyone who eats seafood will be affected. Not only will this decrease the supply and raise the price of seafood, it will also affect the quality of any seafood ever harvested in that area for hundreds of years.

From CNN:

The Gulf Coast braced for a greasy and unwelcome tide Wednesday as the region's largest oil spill in decades threatened the marshlands and beaches at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

"This Saturday is the first date we can go catch live bait," said Glenn Sanchez, who runs a marina in Hopedale, Louisiana. "If this was to happen, this could just devastate the whole of Louisiana."

Hopedale is in what Sanchez calls the "big toe" of Louisiana, about 35 miles southeast of New Orleans.

It's where dry land gives way to a patchwork of marshes, lagoons and canals that drain into Chandeleur Sound and the Gulf of Mexico. The estuaries are rich in crab, oysters and shrimp, and Breton Sound Marina is home to a variety of commercial and sport-fishing vessels that buy bait from Sanchez.

From Businessweek:

Louisiana fishermen and shrimpers sued BP Plc and Transocean Ltd. on claims the oil spill caused by an offshore explosion will destroy the state’s fishing industry.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in New Orleans federal court, seeks class action status for anyone whose livelihood is dependent on coastal waters imperiled by the spreading slick.

“With the gargantuan area contaminated by the oil spill relentlessly growing on a daily basis, plaintiffs and other class members watch in horror as this grave environmental disaster inexorably moves toward the coastline and imperils the nation’s largest remaining wetlands and vulnerable habitat for fish, oysters, crabs, shrimp, birds and other precious wildlife,” Jonathan B. Andry, the fishermen’s lawyer, said in court papers.

“Halliburton provided a variety of oilfield services on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico; however, we are unable to comment further at this time as we continue to assist in ongoing investigations,” said Halliburton spokeswoman Cathy Mann.

From the Halliburton website:

Halliburton has been involved in over 50 high-profile GOM deepwater drilling projects, involving drilling over 100 deepwater wells. As the market leader in deepwater completions, we have completed over 350 deepwater wells in the GOM.

Since the first deepwater development began at Shell's Cognac field in 1979, Halliburton has played an important role in the advancement of technology used to solve deepwater challenges. Today, water depths continue to deepen, distances from shore have increased, while the challenges have become more complex.

In these situations, experience counts.

Deepwater basins exist in every corner of the world. With locations in over 70 countries, Halliburton's infrastructure is well positioned in each of the deepwater areas to provide superior customer service, leverage local knowledge and maximize well efficiency.

Halliburton companies have participated in the vast majority of all producing deepwater wells.

We've contributed to most of the world's deepwater completions.

Our global footprint encompasses deepwater plays around the globe-from established areas in the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil and West Africa to emerging areas of opportunity in India, Malaysia, Australia, the Eastern Mediterranean, offshore Norway and Eastern Canada.

Halliburton occupies #1 market positions in deepwater completions, stimulation and cementing. And we have #2 positions in directional drilling, MWD/LWD and drilling fluids.

The complex logistical and geological challenges associated with deepwater development projects are further complicated by equally complex safety concerns. A critical component of the Halliburton deepwater solution is the ability to deliver consistent HSE performance. Our extensive use of real-time centers (which we pioneered) to support deepwater operations is improving HSE every day by enabling collaboration among experts around the world without the need to travel to remote or hostile locations.

Proven technology, experience and global reach – that’s what you get when you select Halliburton as your deepwater service provider.

Cameron International Corp supplied the blowout preventer for the rig. Halliburton has repeatedly said they are busy with the investigation when asked for interviews about Deep Horizon.

See the Booman Tribune for an excellent post on Halliburton in the oil industry, including the practice of fracking which contaminates water supplies. Dick Cheney and some members of congress got the “Halliburton Loophole” inserted in the clean water act which allowed the oil and gas industry to freely use chemicals for fracking without having to disclose what they are. This causes toxic chemicals to leach into water tables, as well as radioactive material. Some people have been able set the water that comes out of their taps on fire due to methane.


FAMILY of SECRETS: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It In The White House, And What Their Influence Means For America By Russ Baker


Anonymous said...

Thank you for such a detailed post. The businesses and organizations responsible--the people responsible--should be called out more, as you've done here.

I think it's also important to point out that there is no good technology for cleaning up oil spills in the ice conditions of the Arctic.

I've read the environmental impact statements for Beaufort offshore platforms, and the testimony by local residents on the complete failure of response drills. The MMS reports are frightening in their projections for the likelihood of a spill. It's a lot like playing Russian Roulette--not a matter of if, but when.

There's more about it at the Trustees for Alaska site here.


Celia Harrison said...

Thanks for pointing me to that information Anonymous 9:42. They are like teenagers driving a car, they think they are invincible, view the car as a toy, so don't take precautions, and then when there is a problem expect someone to take care of it for them.