BP, subcontractors: Spill is the other guy's fault
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The three oil companies primarily involved in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill blamed each other Tuesday for the accident last month that left 11 workers dead and oil still spewing into the Gulf.
At a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, BP (BP), the well's owner and lead operator of the project, sought to turn attention to the valve that was supposed to shut off the well in case of an accident. The valve, known as a blowout preventer, is owned by drilling rig operator Transocean, which was contracted to drill the well for BP using its Deepwater Horizon drill rig.
"Transocean's blowout preventer failed to operate," said Lamar McKay, chairman and president of BP America, according to prepared testimony. "Only seven of the 126 onboard the Deepwater Horizon were BP employees, so we have only some of the story."
Transocean (RIG) said the blowout preventer performed fine in tests just a week before the accident.
Revolting. BP blames Transocean for a faulty preventer. Transocean says the preventer might not be the cause and blames faulty cement work. Halliburton, responsible for the cement work, blames BP, as does Transocean. The Senators chastise them for playing the blame game, but the truth is that in the MSM-dominated world of politics, the blame game is the only game in town. Fox News blames President Obama. Keith Olbermann blames Dick Cheney. And outside of MSM, the blogosphere reverberates in their respective ideological echo chambers. Oh, occasionally someone will post news that avoids the game to focus on just how horrendous this event truly is:
Oil leak is 5 times greater than reported by officials
At an oil spill environmental forum at the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front, Ian MacDonald said the blowout is gushing 25,000 barrels a day.
The Coast Guard and BP estimate 5,000 barrels a day of crude is spewing into the Gulf.
MacDonald said his estimate is based on satellite images and government maps forecasting the slick's trajectory.
If You Think You Have a Sense of the Oil Spill's ScaleTry this utility from Paul Rademacher's site, which overlays a scaled representation of the Deepwater Horizon spill onto a Google Earth view of any city you choose. (May require a Google Earth web plug-in, available at the site linked above. I've used that plugin for a long time with no ill effects.) For instance, here is how the spill would look as applied to Washington DC. Click for larger.
And, just quickly a few other cities I'm familiar with. First the SF Bay Area, then Tokyo, then Duluth MN. You can choose any place.
After Gulf Coast oil spill, scientists envision devastation for region
Few people have a more apocalyptic view than Matt Simmons, retired chairman of the energy investment banking firm Simmons & Company International and a 41-year veteran of the industry. Simmons, who will speak at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston this week, has been famous in recent years for warning that the industry is running out of oil. Now he sees a disaster on an epic scale as the pressurized subterranean reservoir known as the Macondo field, tapped for the first time by Deepwater Horizon, continues to vent into the gulf.
"It really is a catastrophe," Simmons said. "I don't think they're going to be able to put the leak out until the reservoir depletes. It's just too technically challenging."
He said BP's cleanup costs could ruin the company.
"They're going to have to clean up the Gulf of Mexico," he said.
Games may be fun, but the dire situation we face is not, and The Great Oil Leak of 2010 is just the tip of the iceberg for the civilization-shaking yet to come. How did we get in this predicament? The sad fact is that when you put the game aside, we are all to blame. Unless you've managed to live through your life only eating organic foods, avoiding pharmaceutical products and everything made from plastic and limit your transportation methods to walking or horseback riding, you've actively participated in reaping the benefits of our technologically advanced society which would not exist without an economic infrastructure predicated on cheap abundant oil. I believe Matt Simmons is right, that age is coming to an end. It's not an issue of foreign oil, offshore oil or arctic oil, it's all oil. The world no longer has the supply to meet the exponential demands of a globalized population dependent on it. Period.
But to accept the blame, to truly take responsibility, we can't wallow in guilt to one extreme or take the blame game to a Jacobean conclusion on the other. There is no all-encompassing solution to this crisis because there are no alternatives in any combination that will allow us to keep running our high-tech society with the same debt-ridden abandon that we have for the last 100 years. We can try but ultimately I believe we will discover that instead of an all-encompassing solution we will opt for the best options that fit into the needs of our immediate community. Globalization will be replaced by Relocalization. Different communities may have different needs, we need policies now that will accomodate such devolution without political friction or chaos. Time will tell if that is still possible.
But time is not on our side. This is our wake up call, and it's happening at the speed of 25,000 barrels a day. There's danger in the ocean; time to start setting up the lifeboats.