Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Who is to Blame for the Oil Spill?

Deepwater Horizon was a "dynamically positioned" oil platform, which is actually a floating platform controlled by computers and positioned by propellers to maintain a steady position. This is what caught fire on April 20, 2010, and sank two days later, and resulted in the oil spill currently messing up the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana.

The Deepwater Horizon drilled the deepest well ever last year, at about 10 kilometers. I'm not sure if this spilling well is the same one, because the Deepwater Horizon sank in water only 1 mile deep. At any rate, I did not even know that there was a competition going on for the deepest well ever. Now we find out.

So much for facts. Now let's get on with the mud slinging. In the absence of any conclusive evidence, many people are wondering who is to blame. Here are some of the players/suspects.

1. BP (British Petroleum) An oil company that thankfully is not Exxon or American, to take the blame.

2. Hyundai. The Korean company that made the oil rig in 2001, and also makes the Accent, a car which sells for $10,000.

3. Barack Obama, as Anti-Christ-in-Chief he must share some blame, especially after making plans to increase offshore drilling, and making statements about how safe the technology now is. Also, this is now being touted as "Obama's Katrina" by many conservatives, and also by Greenpeace.

4. Sarah Palin, was the inspiration for motto of "Drill, baby, drill" (although she was thinking of the Arctic near Alaska, but the principle is the same.)

5. Halliburton. Was doing the drilling, ex-company of Dick Cheney.

6. Environmentalists. Rush Limbaugh came up with the idea that maybe environmentalists sabotaged the rig. It was spread to Fox News by Dana Perino (Former Bush administration Press Secretary). The idea being, that since the Deepwater Horizon caught fire near to Earth Day, that the timing indicates it may be a plot by wacko environmentalists, with the goal of creating a such a disaster as to put an end to offshore drilling for all time. Although oil platform experts doubt that even Greenpeace, with their vaunted scaling capabilities would be capable of getting on to an oil rig unnoticed. But who knows? Some people think environmentalists are wackos. Some people (yes, including me) think Rush Limbaugh and his followers are wackos.

In the end, this may be a big enough disaster to do for offshore drilling what "Three Mile Island" did for nuclear reactors in the USA. At the very least it may persuade people that offshore wind turbines are not as ugly or as dangerous as they have been made out to be.

Picture: Deepwater Horizon on fire from Wikipedia


  1. You comment, 'I'm not sure if this spilling well is the same one, because the Deepwater Horizon sank in water only 1 mile deep.'

    Not to confuse the water depth with the drill depth - the former (±1,500 m) being the distance to the sea floor, the latter (±5,500 m) the planned length of the drill string.

    In the case of Deepwater Horizon/Macondo Prospect, this was to be an exploratory well ... in other words, capped off for future exploitation to the benefit of BP, presumably when prices increase past the current, deflated, level of about $75.

    Oil production is always a hazardous business, especially dicey offshore. But BP (whose PR people expect us to think of them as 'Beyond Petroleum') has an especially unsavory record and Transocean (the drill operator) also has a very spotty record.

    Although it's easy to finger point (and we'll no doubt witness plenty of that in the upcoming months) the lion's share of the blame falls squarely at the feet of us - the consumers of that oil, who burn our way through almost a 100,000,000 barrels per day of the stuff.

    Judging from the number of Pollyanna articles being written about future oil supply, there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding about the meaning of 'Peak Oil'. Those deniers maintain that, 'There's plenty of oil left!'

    But that's not the issue. Of course there's 'plenty' of oil left. But the cheap oil is pretty much gone. The rate of discovery has declined significantly since the 1960s and we now consume more than we're able to find.

    So, Who is to Blame for the Oil Spill? We all are. British ('Beyond') Petroleum, Transocean, Halliburton and the rest of that ilk are simply our agents.

  2. More grist for the mill ...

    'A 2009 investigation of the Minerals Management Service [the U.S. federal offshore energy regulator] found that agency officials "frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives."'

    Source: Sex, Lies and Oil Spills

  3. Thanks for finding those links, they are a help in understanding the oil spill.

  4. At the risk of offending some readers of this blog, I submit the following insightful dialog between Bill O'Reilly and Sarah Palin on the issue what do to about this oil spill ... Call in the Dutch!

    (We knew that FauxNews would be essential to the resolution of the Deepwater mess ;-)