Sunday, May 30, 2010
Memorial Day Weekend
If we are starting in North America, then the Deep Horizon oil-rig spill is the story. In February 2010, the crew of the Deep Horizon oil rig off the coast Louisiana began drilling for a reservoir of oil deeper underground,(around three miles down). Oil was found, but in the course of the final work, on April 20, a volatile mixture of methane gas mixed with oil overwhelmed the safety features (which apparently were not all working), shot up through the drilling pipes into the rig causing an explosion up on the surface that killed 11 workers. The oil rig sank, the damaged pipeline started spewing oil into the Gulf, and continues now 40 days later.
Four or five procedures have not stopped the oil leaking to date, and the damage continues to grow. Currently blame and scapegoating dominate the media and political angles, more sober accountability will come later perhaps, addressing issues around warnings, lack of redundancy, profit before safety, and missing principled government oversight. One thing for sure, it is causing great unease among world governments, as much of the world has modernized because of this abundant energy source. Though, there have been far greater spills than this, looking through Wikipedia...
The modern world runs on oil - at any given moment 80 million barrels of oil are on the world's oceans moving from production to destination, scattered among nearly 4300 tankers. One modern very large tanker alone carries 2 million barrels, and the Gulf Coast spill is currently 800,000 barrels, (assuming 40 days @ 20,000 barrels a day leaking), which is still less than half one tanker. Okay, okay, this wasn't a tanker of course, but the oil volume has been compared many times to the Exxon Valdez tanker in the 1989 Alaska oil spill incident which was until this current story, the largest for the US. (And the Exxon Valdez spilled only 11 million gallons or 250,000 barrels).
Okay,three paragraphs for North America is enough, we've still got a globe to cover, and I'm sure we'll return to oil, energy, and the environment.