Posts Tagged ‘offshore drilling’

Deepwater Horizon rig catastrophe has been called a unique event by the oil industry, but the recent history of offshore drilling suggests otherwise according to an investigative story by the Wall Street Journal.

In the months before and after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, spilling millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the industry was hit with several serious spills and alarming near-misses.

A rig operated by PTT PCL caught fire off Australia in late 2009. - Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

A blowout off the coast of Australia left oil flowing into the Timor Sea for weeks. An out-of-control well in the Gulf of Mexico dislodged a 4,000-pound piece of equipment on the deck of the Lorris Bouzigard drilling rig as workers scurried to safety. A gas leak in the North Sea aboard a production platform came within a rogue spark of a Deepwater Horizon-scale disaster off the coast of Norway.

Data from regulators around the world suggest that after years of improvement, the offshore-drilling industry’s safety record has declined over the past two years.  In 2009, in the Gulf of Mexico, there were 28 major drilling-related spills, natural-gas releases or incidents in which workers lost control of a well – up 4% from 2008, 56% from 2007, and nearly two-thirds from 2006. If you include the number of hours worked on offshore rigs in the equation, the rate of these incidents rose every year from 2006 to 2009.

There are various possible explanations for the recent spate of problems. Investigations into the Deepwater Horizon and some other recent incidents have pointed to the industry’s difficulties finding and retaining enough experienced workers, its struggles to balance safety priorities with profit demands, and occasional lapses in the face of lax regulation. These challenges have become more pronounced as oil companies continue to push the limits of technology and experience in deeper water, harsher environments and more complex oil reservoirs, the investigators say.

The six-month moratorium on deep-water drilling imposed by the Obama administration ended in October, one month ahead of schedule.  Still, the administration reversed plans to expand drilling into new areas.

Public Citizen continues to call for better regulation and stronger accountability for off-shore drilling operations.


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Editor’s note: Normally we don’t stray into the political implications of public policy, but after Patrick wrote this  response to President Obama’s new drilling policy we felt it was too interesting to keep to ourselves. So here’s a try at something new: Commentary and Opinion from Patrick Reck.

Wednesday’s announcement by President Obama to expand offshore oil drilling and gas exploration is devastating, especially for a Yankee like myself. I grew up cherishing my yearly family vacations to Ocean City, Maryland and Virginia Beach. Pristine memories of balcony breakfasts at sunrise, pirate mini-golf, and running with kites flying so high that you wonder if the sky is as endless as the sea.

Now, I get waves of nausea thinking that in 10 or 15 years, children will walk down those same beaches and gaze out, not at the brilliance of the colors in the sky and the mystery of where the horizon meets the sun, but at a row of tiny metal cranes, stooping down low to suck black blood out of the Atlantic.

Hopefully the ocean will still evoke profound wonder in developing minds, but will it be the fascination of Copernicus or the madness of Ahab?

“The white whale tasks me; he heaps me. Yet he is but a mask. ‘Tis the thing behind the mask I chiefly hate; the malignant thing that has plagued mankind since time began; the thing that maws and mutilates our race, not killing us outright but letting us live on, with half a heart and half a lung.” (more…)

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Our cohorts at Citizenvox had this to say about the recent scandal breaking at the Department of the Interior.  I think this follow up well what they wrote about the recent GOP and Dem conventions, asking “Who is paying for the Hookers and Blow?”

And these are the people who will be put in charge of the leases if we decide to expand offshore drilling? Insert your own “Drill, Baby, Drill” joke here.  ~~Citizen Andy

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This is so very cool. GM is “leaking” photos of its new VOLT concept electric vehicle. So the car maker is finally reaching its goals, as stated in the 1980 first edition of The Cousteau Almanac, An Inventory of Life on our Water Planet. To wit: “The great car hope of the future, of course, is the EV. General Motors promises an electric car by the mid-1980s that will reach a speed of 60 miles (97) kilometers per hour and run 80 miles (130 kilometers) before needing a recharge. The company estimates that 10 percent of the cars on U.S. highways will be EVs by 1990.”

Word on the net is the VOLT will reach 120 mph and travel 40 miles before needing a recharge. Although there might possibly be some need for us to lay blame for the delay at the feet of GM (as if there already isn’t mounds of it there for other stuff) , we might as well rejoice and move on. Actually, I only even feel the need to highlight it at all in effort to say let’s not make a similar mistake with this “Drill Here, Drill Now”-let’s-just-drill-for-oil-around-FLORIDA,-THE-ROCKIES-(hey don’t worry it’s S-H-A-L-E) campaign.

Back to Cousteau. The 1980 almanac also says things about energy like, “A 1978 United Nations report concluded that solar cells would become cheaper (more…)

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Gas prices are abominably high. The good news? It’s time to kick the oil habit. When i lived in New York City and the price of cigarettes went up to $10, my smoker friends took the hint and kicked the butt.

We face the same problem with gas prices, and with the overwhelming sentiment to “Drill here! Drill now!” overtaking our debate on national energy policy, I’m reminded again of my smoker friends. What if they had simply decided that it was time to start buying their cigarettes in bulk from New Jersey or Connecticut? They would have missed the added health benefits of quitting smoking.



Global Warming is coming to a crisis point, and we are already seeing the effects: flooding along the Mississippi, record-breaking heat and drought across Texas, and increasing food prices due to lower crop yields are only the leading edge of a climate disaster if we do nothing. Unfortunately, offshore drilling is worse than doing nothing. The saying goes that when you find you are digging yourself into a hole, STOP DIGGING! By increasing production of oil we can only guarantee that we will put more pollution into the atmosphere and hasten the arrival of catastrophic climate change.

But proponents say we have to bring down the price of gas. True– my family is hurt by having to spend $50-$60 every time we fill up our car. But according to the Bush Administration’s Department of Energy, offshore drilling will not affect gas prices at all. It will be 8-10 years before we see any real production out of these wells. Further, the amount they would produce would not help make us more energy independent, as the relatively small supplies would be gobbled up by international demand. Their quote is “Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.”

But that hasn’t stopped Congress from “acting.” Congressman Gene Green (D-Houston) announced a bi-partisan energy plan that includes more drilling, co-sponsored by Ruben Hinojosa (D-Corpus Christi), Solomon Ortiz (D-Corpus Christi), Charlie Gonzalez (D-San Antonio), Ciro Rodriguez (D-San Antonio), Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), and Nick Lampson (D-Houston). Considering the proximity to the Gulf Coast of most of these districts, I would think these Congressmen would be more concerned about offshore oil spills ruining the coastlines or about the sea level rise, even a small amount of which would put Galveston, South Padre Island, and the Houston Ship Channel under water.

Since our oil problem is essentially one of increased demand driving up prices, the best answer to decrease oil prices is to demand less by using less. So, offshore drilling means more global warming, and no easing of the pain at the pump. Efficiency means less global warming, lower prices, and we’re using less gas to begin with. That way, if we did manage to tackle climate change and wanted to drill decades from now when oil is $300 / barrel, we will have left that resource to our children and grandchildren instead of simply greedily drinking that milkshake now.

Sounds like a no-brainer: the type of solution no one in Washington DC would ever consider.

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