BP; the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

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BP; the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Fri May 28, 2010 4:54 pm

Mod Edit (James): Split from Another Topic
For Discussion of British Petroleum and the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill


Dekirh wrote:What caused the flooding? Was it just heavy rain + poor terrain or something else? Seems to be a somewhat common occurence. Can't the drainage system be improved?

The oil spill seems to be very bad. Estimates went from 1,000 to 5,000 to 25,000 barrels per day. Any industry that relies on the sea is pretty much screwed. For a long time. Not going to imagine the extent of ecological impact it will have.

Global warming aside, I find it pretty ridiculous that some people commenting on that page considers it is a waste of money to look into alternative energy sources. Nevermind that it could be cheaper for the average person in the long run when technology advances enough, or that it would be nice not to be held hostage to oil companies who, as far as I'm aware, are making record profits every quarter. What about the time when oil and gas production falls and is no longer a viable energy source for most countries? Are they going to magic more oil out or technology that harness alternative energy sources efficiently?

Edit - Lazy to quote so it's a bit messy.


I agree. I wouldn't trust BP reps any further than I could chuck them at this point, particularly since they underestimated the flow rate of the leak by about an order of magnitude - supposedly we're seeing about 60,000 barrels a day leaking now. However, let's hope the 'top kill' plan for closing the vent works, otherwise it sounds like we're really screwed.

But we certainly shouldn't be trusting our future (or present!) energy contracts to companies which are so shamelessly irresponsible and corrupt. As I've said in other threads, I think the MMR's house needs to be thoroughly cleaned for graft, criminal negligence and other misconduct and the damages cap on the oil industry removed.
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Re: BP; the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Unread postby James » Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:16 pm

Heya folks. I split this bit from the 'Disasters, Discoveries, and Other Small News' discussion topic. We really can make new topics for this stuff. Disasters are probably big enough for dedicated discussion. :)

What are your thoughts on the matter?

I thought I'd just share one thing:

Sarah Palin: "Extreme Greenies:see now why we push"drill,baby,drill"of known reserves&promising finds in safe onshore places like ANWR? Now do you get it?" [link].

No matter what side I'm on, I don't want Sarah Palin on it. That's for sure. So apparently, if one can find meaning in this grammatical train-wreck of a tweet, the BP oil spill is to be blamed on 'extreme greenies' for opposing inland oil drilling? Sarah Palin needs some big dude to follow her around and smack her every time she thinks to say or type something that hasn't been approved by people who think before they speak or type. Curiously, this from someone who has recently called upon the Obama administration to loosen restrictions on offshore drilling.

Speaking of Twitter, and getting back on topic, there is a mock 'BP PR' Twitter account here, and a for-humor conversion of their comedy tweets converted to billboards here. (In case it isn't obvious, these tweets do not actually come from BP, which, in my view, is handling this disaster much better than I would have expected a company in their industry to—which is not to say they are handling it ideally.)

ABC News: BP's Dismal Safety Record
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Re: BP; the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Unread postby agga » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:23 pm

James wrote:BP ... is handling this disaster much better than I would have expected a company in their industry to—which is not to say they are handling it ideally.)


1. Palin is generally disgusting, I'm not surprised by whatever frightening statement she makes.

2. i do honestly feel sorry for all those BP engineers who must be tearing their hair out over this - but as for "handling this disaster", it sounds like all they've been able to do is try and fail, repeatedly, to handle it. it seems to be, so far, unhandled.
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Re: BP; the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Unread postby James » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:49 pm

agga wrote:2. i do honestly feel sorry for all those BP engineers who must be tearing their hair out over this - but as for "handling this disaster", it sounds like all they've been able to do is try and fail, repeatedly, to handle it. it seems to be, so far, unhandled.

Well, consider the logistical problems here. They're trying to accomplish something which is, to be fair, incredibly difficult to accomplish. I imagine the only reason why the United States government hasn't taken over is because Obama is being told by people in the know just how complicated this really is. That it is, thus far, unhandled, does not mean BP is slacking off. And regardless of BP's track record, it is in their best interest to move heaven and earth in getting this thing plugged up.

It will still be interesting to see what this new criminal investigation uncovers.
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Re: BP; the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Unread postby agga » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:09 pm

James wrote:They're trying to accomplish something which is, to be fair, incredibly difficult to accomplish. I imagine the only reason why the United States government hasn't taken over is because Obama is being told by people in the know just how complicated this really is. That it is, thus far, unhandled, does not mean BP is slacking off.


i don't doubt that they're trying everything they can think of - and as for the govt's role in all this, all they can really do is keep a fire lit under BP, keep making threats of doom, etc., but otherwise it's not like the feds could possibly know more about how to cap an underwater oil spill than BP. maybe they could (sounds like they may be in the process of doing it) put together a panel of academic engineers and scientists to come up with a solution, assuming that BP is to some degree shutting those types out, but i don't believe the govt nowadays is capable of that much ingenuity.

James wrote:It will still be interesting to see what this new criminal investigation uncovers.


probably nothing more than 1) the federal govt barely regulates the oil industry, deep-sea drilling in particular, perhaps even less than they're supposed to - so there may be a crime of dereliction of an already inadequate duty, and 2) BP/transocean/etc may have skimped on some rules and regulations. i'll be surprised if any real wrongdoing is uncovered. but, maybe some awareness will develop of just how little control the public has over these operations, and of how much more control we should have.
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Re: BP; the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Unread postby Objectivist » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:12 pm

Does anyone know what caused this? I've heard a million different answers and I'm not sure any of them are right.

What exactly caused this massive spill?
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Re: BP; the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Unread postby James » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:29 pm

agga wrote:i don't doubt that they're trying everything they can think of - and as for the govt's role in all this, all they can really do is keep a fire lit under BP, keep making threats of doom, etc., but otherwise it's not like the feds could possibly know more about how to cap an underwater oil spill than BP. maybe they could (sounds like they may be in the process of doing it) put together a panel of academic engineers and scientists to come up with a solution, assuming that BP is to some degree shutting those types out, but i don't believe the govt nowadays is capable of that much ingenuity.

If the government actively steps in they'll have to do so, I imagine, through specialists acquired from other countries/oil companies. I know Iraq, for example, has an oil cleanup specialist team available (though no mention in the CNN article about payment, etc.). One thing that does strike me as important is that BP is probably going to be the most motivated party in all the world to get this taken care of—the stability of their company is literally on the line. And they're capable of using outside resources as well (well, they are). Financial gain would be a key motive for other parties, in addition to the lack of personal accountability. All I can do is speculate, though, because I don't think we're getting all the technical details of this story. Just that BP is trying one thing after another.

agga wrote:probably nothing more than 1) the federal govt barely regulates the oil industry, deep-sea drilling in particular, perhaps even less than they're supposed to - so there may be a crime of dereliction of an already inadequate duty, and 2) BP/transocean/etc may have skimped on some rules and regulations. i'll be surprised if any real wrongdoing is uncovered. but, maybe some awareness will develop of just how little control the public has over these operations, and of how much more control we should have.

I double there'll be much focus on #1—nor would I expect government officials to provide much in the way of worthwhile regulation. Supervisors supervising something they don't terribly understand. I can't see the harm in government-influenced inspections, though (I don't honestly know if this already takes place). What I would like to see is strong defined consequences for screwing something like this up, and enforced expectation for dealing with economic fallout as well as the problem itself. BP, I believe, needs to be on the hook for all the consequences of this oil cleanup.

Edit: I'd also like to know what percentage of our oil resources depend on offshore drilling. We've got plenty of oil for a long time now (not to dismay the importance of researching alternative energy) so I'm not certain how necessary it truly is, given the risk. I haven't seen, or been able to find, statistics on this despite some searching.

Objectivist wrote:What exactly caused this massive spill?

There's some interesting discussion here (see also: comments; note that Halliburton is the subject and I doubt that's the right place to put the actual blame). I haven't read any technical analysis and demonstration of exactly what the problem was (though I'd like to), but in short it just sounds like a joint or pipe (or pipe box) associated with delivery of the pressurized oil has broken and is leaking.

Edit: Wikipedia actually has some good information in an article about oil blowouts to describe this sort of thing.
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Re: BP; the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Unread postby agga » Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:34 pm

Objectivist wrote:Does anyone know what caused this? I've heard a million different answers and I'm not sure any of them are right.

What exactly caused this massive spill?


technically, what is causing the spill is that the machine atop the well, which was supposed to shut off the flow if something went wrong, failed to function (the "blowout preventer"). no one knows why it didn't work. as for what initially went wrong: it sounds like nobody really knows that either - they were in the process of finishing construction around the well, and something sparked a backwash of oil and gas and an explosion. the DH burned and sank, with oil still flowing, and the pipe broke off, all with the blowout preventer sitting down there and doing nothing. whatever failure there was may have been consumed by the explosion and fire. the DH is now in a heap on the ocean floor - it will undoubtedly be brought to the surface eventually, with some sort of commission set up to try and figure out what happened...

James wrote:I'd also like to know what percentage of our oil resources depend on offshore drilling. We've got plenty of oil for a long time now (not to dismay the importance of researching alternative energy) so I'm not certain how necessary it truly is, given the risk. I haven't seen, or been able to find, statistics on this despite some searching.


i can't find a straightforward statistic on it - if you look at a list of major oil-producing countries, then look at their individual industries, most of the big proven reserves - saudi arabia, russia, venezuela, canada, kuwait, iraq - aren't offshore. but a lot of the big reserves are offshore, like nigeria's, brazil's, angola's, etc.

just from looking over a bunch of random googled references, i'd guess that world oil production is no more than ~20% from undersea wells.

James wrote:What I would like to see is strong defined consequences for screwing something like this up, and enforced expectation for dealing with economic fallout as well as the problem itself. BP, I believe, needs to be on the hook for all the consequences of this oil cleanup.


"pay for everything" is nice, but it's hard to define even after the fact (how deep into the economy do you go to find the repercussions, and to supply the compensation?). sure, BP should pay for absolutely everything. but, something should be laid out for the future, fines-per-barrel spilled as a baseline, enhanced fines for attempts at hiding the extent of a spill, etc., which should terrify companies like BP into being as prepared as technologically possible for accidents, out of taking risks that are too high, and out of trying to hide the extent of spills (e.g. by quoting minimum estimates, and by trying to "disperse" oil - not that that's the only reason for using dispersants, and probably not the main reason in the DH case). in short the industry should be more regulated, and the regulations should be enforced.
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Re: BP; the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Unread postby James » Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:57 pm

agga wrote:just from looking over a bunch of random googled references, i'd guess that world oil production is no more than ~20% from undersea wells.

If the number is lower I can understand being much harder on the practice, especially with proven oil reserves (and there are others, too, such as through Alaska, which aren't actively being utilized). But back to the basics, I'm still surprised how hard it is to get solid statistics on so much of this stuff.

agga wrote:"pay for everything" is nice, but it's hard to define even after the fact (how deep into the economy do you go to find the repercussions, and to supply the compensation?). sure, BP should pay for absolutely everything. but, something should be laid out for the future, fines-per-barrel spilled as a baseline, enhanced fines for attempts at hiding the extent of a spill, etc., which should terrify companies like BP into being as prepared as technologically possible for accidents, out of taking risks that are too high, and out of trying to hide the extent of spills (e.g. by quoting minimum estimates, and by trying to "disperse" oil - not that that's the only reason for using dispersants, and probably not the main reason in the DH case). in short the industry should be more regulated, and the regulations should be enforced.

"Pay for Everything" is also a line I shouldn't toss out readily. They should pay for actual cleanup, cost of cleanup and plugging the well, associated government costs, and reasonable loss, but not every claim that is thrown their way.

Also, there are regulations and laws in place. I know we already have a fine per barrel leaked fine in place, for example. It was discussed in a CNN article I read recently as the possible reason for BP low-balling the amount of oil being leaked into the ocean (and boy did they low-ball it). But at heart I agree with you here. If the consequences are serious enough—they're serious now, but they can be even more serious—a company like BP will take the maintenance and stability of their equipment to heart and go above and beyond in keeping things balanced. I can't heartily side with BP on that because they have a track-record of being the non-compliant guest to the party.
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Re: BP; the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Thu Jun 03, 2010 3:18 pm

Thanks for moving this off into its own discussion, James! I've noted the new rules - this one deserves its own topic, certainly.

James wrote:"Pay for Everything" is also a line I shouldn't toss out readily. They should pay for actual cleanup, cost of cleanup and plugging the well, associated government costs, and reasonable loss, but not every claim that is thrown their way.

Also, there are regulations and laws in place. I know we already have a fine per barrel leaked fine in place, for example. It was discussed in a CNN article I read recently as the possible reason for BP low-balling the amount of oil being leaked into the ocean (and boy did they low-ball it). But at heart I agree with you here. If the consequences are serious enough—they're serious now, but they can be even more serious—a company like BP will take the maintenance and stability of their equipment to heart and go above and beyond in keeping things balanced.


I agree with this. Generally speaking, companies shouldn't have to pay beyond their due; I simply think we need a thorough review of our regulations and laws to see what 'their due' is, i.e. whether or not our laws are adequately proportional to the amount of sheer physical damage that can be done to the environment and to the society by their actions (and the damage from Deepwater Horizon is likely to push those limits past what we've yet seen). To determine the consequences I certainly wouldn't want to rely on reports commissioned by the company responsible, but I hope as you seem to that BP et al. have enough good business sense to learn from their mistakes.

Also, re: Palin and greenies, I'm still stuck between my previously well-articulated conviction that Palin really is foolish and crass enough to say something like that, and sheer incredulity at the scope of the stupidity and crassness of that snipe. I'm actually content to ignore most of what Palin says now, more for my own sanity than for anything else...
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