Live From the Gulf

QUICK OVERVIEW OF ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER SO FAR

Think Gulf Oil Spill Is Huge?
Try Multiplying it for 20,000

JUST IN: For the first time since the April 22 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, the spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been contained. BP is monitoring the performance of a new cop it placed atop of the gusher that, although not the permanent solution, may hold the pressure and prevent the spilling from continuing. Stay tune for more updates. Now back to our regular programming. This week’s news that BP is attempting to place a cap atop of the Gulf of Mexico gusher, which may plug it for good, should most definitely be greeted with a grain of salt. To start, BP itself has been hesitant to make assurances, as it did in the past, that the procedure is going to work this time around.
Which comes as no surprise, since its previous attempts failed before, causing more damage than good to that ecosystem. It all culminated with a robot mishap that caused the crude oil spill to increase, not diminish.
BP is also not to be trusted because it’s been fighting tooth and nail to refuse accountability for its catastrophic mishandling in what was once a pristine environment and now is destined to become a gigantic body of toxic water.
And finally, because BP’s finding time and resources to go out of its way to prevent media and environmental groups access to the cleanup centers, as if public scrutiny and higher transparency may somehow get in the way of a prompt solution. It does not and continuous efforts to control and censor information are unacceptable.
NEW SPILLS ON THE LURK
Such renewed attempts to fix at least the source of the problem should also be met with a healthy dose of skepticism due to another, even more far reaching threat of environmental doom.
An Associated Press investigation found out that about 27,000 oil and gas wells lay abandoned in the Gulf of Mexico, some of them since the 1950s, with no inspection from the government or monitoring by oil companies that are technically responsible for them. The obvious potential for new, multiple leaks is too great to be ignored.
But that’s exactly what’s happening right now. Of 50,000 wells drilled over the past six decades in the Gulf, 23,500 have been permanently abandoned. Another 3,500 are classified by federal regulators as “temporarily abandoned,” which requires oil companies to present plans to reuse or permanently plug them within a year, though those rules are commonly manipulated to allow wells to remain “temporarily” abandoned forever.
Even in properly sealed wells, the cement plugs can fail over time and the metal casing that lines the wells can rust, engineers say. Depleted production wells can also repressurize and spill oil if their sealings fail.
PLEASE, DEFINE “SAFE”
So, here’s where we all stand. A federal court rejection to a request by the Obama administration to ban oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, reaffirming an early denial to lift the ban by a federal judge. Halliburton’s efforts to divert public attention from its role in the Deepwater rig explosion, disguised as “contributions” to federal lawmakers who happen to be favorable to continuing drilling.
And common sense concerns about BP’s use of oil dispersants that may be more harmful to the environment than studies seem to indicate. Which makes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s statement, declaring the Gulf’s population of shrimp, tuna and grouper safe for human consumption, just one more attack on such common sense.
This is all for now, folks, but we won’t segue into a story about LiLo or Sandra or LeBron’s mom. Because it’s still up to us to keep this issue at the top of the public conversation in this country and beyond. As if anyone needs another sober reminder, just one look at a recently published poster showing the Gulf of Mexico’s grid of oil wells should be enough.
If you dig hard enough, you may also find one for Alaska, or the West Coast, or the Eastern Seaboard. They must be around, somewhere, buried in some scientific-looking report. No need to waste your time though. The Gulf grid picture should suffice for now.
Otherwise, you may indeed rather find other ways to spend your time. In that case, you may start by keeping us posted on those crucial issues mentioned above. Or find out about the settlement amount Tiger’s wife stands to receive and report back to us, please.

JUST IN: The Obama administration is issuing a new moratorium on deep-water offshore drilling, arguing that a pause is still needed to ensure that oil and gas companies implement safety measures to reduce risks — and are prepared to handle spills.It’s to last through November 30 and, unlike before, this moratorium applies to any deep-water floating facility with drilling activities.

***

SHORT-SPAN WORRIES

Gulf Oil Spill Heightens Global
Concerns About Drilling Safety

There has been no oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico since Thursday, when BP close the valves on a new cap atop the well and tests have shown no signs of damage. The current plan calls for the well to be plugged with mud and cement, but there may be changes in the method of permanently sealing it.

PENDING ISSUES
The massive oil spill in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico has forced nations around the world to increase inspections, upgrade equipment and procedures to prevent accidents, and even postpone the building of new pipelines.
Countries such as the U.K., Canada, France, China and Bulgaria are taking steps to prevent a similar disaster, given its astronomical costs involved and, yes, the catastrophic impact on the environment.
In some cases, deep water oil drilling itself is being called into question. The process is expensive, risky and largely uncharted, highlighted by BP’s use of untested methods to try to stem the Gulf spill.
But efforts to ban drilling altogether face powerful obstacles, with the geopolitical implications of the issue not amiss in the discussion. Middle Eastern states, for example, would benefit enormously if deep water drilling is restricted because most of their oil is on land.
STATE IMPLICATIONS
Also part of the equation is the case of state-run oil giants such as Brazil’s Petrobras, which is poised to turn the country into one of the world’s biggest oil producers. The government is fully invested on the company’s planned deep water exploration of its recent huge oil basin discoveries.
Located relatively near Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, though, even a minor mishap in the exploration of these so-called pre-salt basis, reservoirs buried below as much as 6,500 feet of salt, would cause irreparable damage to its ecosystem and also to the country’s environmental conscious image. So far, though, the Lula administration has taken very few large scale safety measures to ensure that that won’t happen.
OIL ADDICTION
Going back to the still relevant “one-note samba” line of argument used by environmentalists, the biggest unanswered question is why spending so much funds and resources preventing ecological disasters caused by the use of toxic forms of fuel, when a fraction of such investments would suffice to develop practical, alternative means of generating energy.
The answer may be literally “blowing in the wind” but it’s far from being limited by it. Worldwide profits by oil companies continue to reach stratospheric levels and everyday a new line of gasoline-fueled vehicles is launched in the world markets, to meet an ever increasing and avid customer demand.
So it’d be reassuring to believe that a disaster of such a magnitude as the one in the Gulf would reenergize the production of motors and machines fueled by sources of energy other than petroleum based. But the evidence just pointed to a different direction.
Due to the overwhelming consequences of the disaster, its rising human and material costs, and build up of political pressure to control and address them, the issue of why it’s happened in the first place loses its weight by the minute.
We all seem to be too busy trying to devise ways of cleaning up this lethal mess, way too distracted by the cataloguing of its effects on the surrounding areas, far too involved in the political wrangling of attributing responsibility to the due culprits, that issues such as why and when enough is enough, fall, unfortunately, through the cracks of the ocean floor.

***

MISSING PAGES IN BP’S OIL SPILL RESPONSE PLAN

Storm Season Brews While
Robots Search for Walruses

Now it can be disclosed. BP had all along a detailed response plan for a possible oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, it’s so detailed that includes, for example, a meticulously elaborated method to rescue walruses and other marine species that haven’t lived in that ecosystem for over two million years.
Nevertheless, several pages are apparently missing in that BP manual. Scientists who paged through it couldn’t find any mention of guidelines to prepare for hurricanes, but that may be because tropical storms have been a common climate phenomenon in the area only since the late 1800s, according to records. They concluded that it’s possible an error at the printing factory left out chapters dealing with that and also with oil cleanup of native species such as the Brown Pelican, the official State Bird of Louisiana, the Mockingbird, of Texas, and the Red-Bellied Turtle, the State Reptile of Alabama.
Luckily to all interested media, though, a brand new set of instructions was issued to prevent the presence of any reporters at the “Federal Mobile Medical Unit” in Venice, Louisiana, the BP-managed double-wide trailer set up for the cleaning, recovery and, if at all possible, release of rescued, damaged animals captured in the Gulf.
Originally set up by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the facility is staffed by a doctor, two nurses, two emergency medical technician paramedics and a pharmacist. It’s also ringed with barbed wire-topped chain link fencing and guarded 24/7 by police and private security agents.
So, as you can attest, birds and marine life living, or rather, that used to live in the Gulf of Mexico, are in exquisite good hands, to answer that insurance commercial’s question. And underneath it all, of course, the gusher continues to exhale gallon upon gallon of thick, crude, blackish oil, destined to became an integral part of every type of surface in the region, sandy, rocky, grassy or liquid.
Isn’t this one of those times you’d feel like singing a song? You may start it at your own leisure, but please, leave Lennon out of this.

***

MISHAP UNDERWATER HELPS SPILL SHOW BECOME SCARIER

When Robots Collide, the Gusher

Spews Even More Crude Horror

Just when we thought the live video stream from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill couldn’t possibly get any worse, an undersea robot bumped a venting system, forcing BP to remove the cap that had been containing some of the crude. In other words, folks, the gusher is now unchecked and is spilling even more crude than previously directly into the water. The broadcasting of random killing of marine life will continue.

After the president’s speech last week (and the dismal reaction his unfocused words provoked), there was a feeling that things were relatively under control, in an out-of-control but by now familiar-way-of-remaining-unchanged as they were before. We wished. It turned out, nothing is under anyone’s control and let’s not even start with BP’s continuously incompetence handling the consequences of its own disastrous mishap.

With little help from British PM David Cameron, Obama did manage to force the oil giant to set aside $20 billion to cover some of the cost the cleanup is expected to need. But we’re far from any acceptable solution. We may as well be drowning in that immense, viscose liquid burial of oil, along with the birds and the fish. Help is definitely not on the way. The loss is everybody’s and their descendents.

Granted, he also did manage to stop BPfrom shamelessly distribute dividends to shareholders and to agree in putting together an escrow fund that would help pay for some of the damage it caused.

It’ll take a lot more to bring the British to the same page, since there’s passionate, although misguided, talk on the other side of the pond about the need to preserve BP at all costs, due to its size and scope for the economy. The tiresome rhetoric of “too big to fail” seems to enjoy the same high regard as it still does here, never mind the stratospheric costs taxpayers from both sides of the Atlantic are being expected to absorb.

But apart from the possibility of criminal charges against BP and even the ultimatum given by the U.S. Coast Guard, for it to come up with a new strategy to stop the oil spilling and start the cleaning for good, or else, which all sound good and dandy but frankly not very practical, there’re other issues that are still being purposely ignored in this debate.

No, we’re not talking about governors of affected states blaming the media for “overstating” the damage to marine life the oil has been causing. Or BP’s attempt to restrict media coverage of the story. Or even local law enforcement that decided that it’s more important to check the immigration status of cleanup workers than to get the job done. (It’s really mind boggling that these issues are even being mentioned in the same breath as talk about the extermination of animal species).

Or the oil dispersants used by BP, that are causing more harm than good. Or the absurd ideas being raised for a solution to seal the leak, which include using beer-brewing ingredients to detonate nuclear heads at the site. And so on and so forth, until not just the cleanup workers are sick, but we’re too.

Oh, did we mention some lawmakers’ conflict of interests in relation to the oil giant too? We didn’t think so but follow the links, just in case.

What’s really completely out of the table at this point is the cause of this one and, god forbid, very likely future spills, which is our undivided dependence on oil as our main source of energy. Whatever happened to the discussion of urgent, effective, practical energy alternatives the candidate Obama professed during his campaign?

As environmentalists are being threaten with the letter of the law for showing what we can actually see for ourselves, or gather by just watching that god forsaken video camera of the bottom of the Gulf, what’s important has again left the building.

So we can argue and blame and point fingers at the culprits till the turtles and pelicans come back to nest, but nothing will serve as a strong enough argument against this state of affairs than our economical, political, existential and, ultimately, suicidal dependence on such a costly, volatile and finite source of energy.

Yes, the just released new government figures, that of 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day, or an Exxon Valdez-equivalent spill every eight days or so, are terrifying but well expected by anyone that’s not leaving next to the thousand of decaying oil wells down in the Gulf. In the end, the estimated 40 million gallons of crude already mixed in the water are but a tenuous fraction of what may be coming ahead.

In all likelihood, not even Obama or you-know-who reincarnated, for those who believe in those things, may be enough to prevent another disaster of planetary proportions. But the actions of grown-ups who, instead of getting down on their knees to ask for help from someone else, choose to get down and dirty and do the grown-up thing for themselves, just might.

It so happens that any effort to replace oil as a source of energy will also increase this planet’s chance for survival, but this is a collateral that anyone can live with.

***

AS BP FIGHTS ACCOUNTABILITY ISSUE, IT’S TIME TO REVIEW OUR OWN

What SpillCam Can’t Show

Is the Search for Alternatives

As the live video stream from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill enters another week of horror, broadcasting the random killing of marine life right in front of our hopeless eyes, the Obama administration is trying to bring the fight for accountability to the U.K., where BP is primarily based.

The president has been discussing with British PM David Cameron ways to coordinate efforts to have the oil giant take steps to assure at least partial reparations to the communities affected by its disastrous mishandling of drilling in the Gulf.

In the process, he also hopes to stop BP from shamelessly distribute dividends to shareholders and to start playing an active role in putting together an escrow fund that would help pay for some of the damage it caused.

It’ll take a lot of effort to bring the British to the same page, since there’s passionate, although misguided, talk on the other side of the pond about the need to preserve BP at all costs, due to its size and scope for the economy. The tiresome rhetoric of “too big to fail” seems to enjoy the same high regard as it still does here, never mind the stratospheric costs taxpayers from both sides of the Atlantic are being expected to absorb.

But apart from the possibility of criminal charges against BP and even the ultimatum given by the U.S. Coast Guard, for it to come up with a new strategy to stop the oil spilling and start the cleaning for good, or else, which all sound good and dandy but frankly not very practical, there’re other issues that are still being purposely ignored in this debate.

No, we’re not talking about governors of affected states blaming the media for “overstating” the damage to marine life the oil has been causing. Or BP’s attempt to restrict media coverage of the story. Or even local law enforcement that decided that it’s more important to check the immigration status of cleanup workers than to get the job done. (It’s really mind boggling that these issues are even being mentioned in the same breath as talk about the extermination of animal species).

Or the oil dispersants used by BP, that are causing more harm than good. Or the absurd ideas being raised for a solution to seal the leak, which include using beer-brewing ingredients to detonate nuclear heads at the site. And so on and so on, until not just the cleanup workers are sick, but we’re too.

What’s really completely out of the table at this point is the cause of this one and, god forbid, very likely future spills, which is our undivided dependence on oil as our main source of energy. Whatever happened to the discussion of urgent, effective, practical energy alternatives the candidate Obama professed during his campaign?

As environmentalists are being threaten with the letter of the law for showing what we can actually see for ourselves, or gather by just watching that god forsaken video camera of the bottom of the Gulf, what’s important has again left the building.

So we can argue and blame and point fingers at the culprits till the turtles and pelicans come back to nest, but nothing will serve as a strong enough argument against this state of affairs than our economical, political, existential and, ultimately, suicidal dependence on such a costly, volatile and finite source of energy.

Yes, the just released new government figures, that of 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day, or an Exxon Valdez-equivalent spill every eight days or so, are terrifying but well expected by anyone that’s not leaving next to the thousand of decaying oil wells down in the Gulf. In the end, the estimated 40 million gallons of crude already mixed in the water are but a tenuous fraction of what may be coming ahead.

In all likelihood, not even Obama or you-know-who reincarnated, for those who believe in those things, may be enough to prevent another disaster of planetary proportions. But the actions of grown-ups who, instead of getting down on their knees to ask for help from someone else, choose to get down and dirty and do the grown-up thing for themselves, just might.

It so happens that any effort to replace oil as a source of energy will also increase this planet’s chance for survival, but this is a collateral that anyone can live with.

***

(Very Much A) Live From the Gulf

DISTURBING SCENES AT SEA BOTTOM; NO SOLUTION YET

SpillCam Shows Greater

Than Reported Oil Amount

The live video stream from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill seems to be spewing even more oil into the water, if the pictures from BP’s own WebCam are to be trusted. The images are in contrast with what the oil giant has been saying all weekend. According to its officials, the latest cap is capturing more and more oil as time progresses. But what we see now is an intensity that hasn’t been seen in weeks. Time for yet another correction in the procedure? Neither BP nor scientists closely following this disaster are expecting the oil to completely stop flowing anytime soon. But apart from courageous independent organizations, we haven’t heard of a coordinated, massive cleanup effort that should be already under way just about now. Maybe the threat of a Justice Department lawsuit, will force the company to put on some speed on the so-far lethargic steps is taking to control the spill it caused in the first place. Then again, maybe only another hard push from the Obama administration will do the trick, lest not have this whole regretful effort go by the wayside and the public’s patience to oblivion. We’ll be watching these eye-averting pictures for as long as it may be needed and as long as we still hold some confidence the leak will be solved for good before, Ok, be it, the end of the year. And new government figures are urgently needed too because this unfortunate broken well has for sure already dumped more than the previously estimated close to 40 million gallons into the Gulf.

***

(Barely) Live From the Gulf

POINTLESS SCENES AT SEA BOTTOM; NO SOLUTION YET

Underwater Robots at Play for

WebCam; Spill Till Christmas?

The live video stream from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is now showing BP’s submarine robots working amid the still spilling of thousands of crude barrels. It’s a bizarre and not very amusing underwater show that may amount to almost nothing, since the oil giant and government officials have already decided that a so-called, and much expected, final solution won’t come before August. Worst: it may as well last until Christmas, if the latest grim scenario is correct. What you’re seeing then is, apparently, the only game in town at the moment, a big enough reason to enrage scientists, fishermen whose way of living depends on an effective solution for the ecological disaster, and everybody else who can’t watch another minute of its devastation to wildlife and several miles of beaches and wetlands surrounding the Gulf. The U.S. is launching a criminal probe into this catastrophic, and completely avoidable, accident that has already dumped between 18 million and 40 million gallons into the Gulf, according to government figures.

***

(Almost A) Live from the Gulf

“TOP KILL” DIES, SOLUTION TO SPILL MAY TAKE MONTHS

WebCam Show Is Over;
BP Is Running Out of Ideas

The live video stream from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is now showing nothing more than the bottom of the sea, since BP’s declared its “Top Kill” procedure officially dead. The oil giant is now asking for at least four more days to ready its next attempt, which would involve submarine robots, but its credibility is not the only one going down the bottom at this point. President Obama, who called the setback “as enraging as it is heartbreaking,” is now at the impossible situation of having to come up with a solution pronto if he’s to remain in charge of public trust on his leadership. But last week, while he was assuming full responsibility for the ecological disaster, administration officials admitted there was no Plan B, which turns this situation from serious to desperate. The spill is the worst in U.S. history – exceeding even the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster – and has dumped between 18 million and 40 million gallons into the Gulf, according to government estimates.

***

Live From the Gulf

BP STILL UNSURE HOW TO GO ABOUT FIXING OIL WELL

WebCam To Show
“Top Kill” Procedure

The live video stream from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is ready to broadcast BP’s latest attempt at stopping the gushing of thousands of crude oil in the waters of the gulf, but company technicians are still revising the procedure. BP tried to prevent public viewing of the proceedings, which aim at force-feeding heavy drilling mud and cement onto the leak. Friendly lawmakers though convinced BP that it was everybody’s interest to watch it trying to fix the problem it caused, obviously aware of the potential for a good, ol’ exercise of public relations. For with the exception of excellent Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg and a few other company executives, no one is putting much credence on this latest, untested attempt.

Live from the Gulf

WebCam Shows
Intermittent Spill

BP has set a live video stream from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. It’s a harrowing view, one that challenges the company’s own version on the amount and seriousness of the spill.
The question on everyone’s mind is: Why it hasn’t been shut off yet?
Is it because of BP’s lack of technical expertise and/or preparedness?
Are current technologies insufficient to safely stop the flow of oil?
Couldn’t explosives effectively collapse the well and close it for good?
Is the oil still spilling because there’s money to be made?
Are we passed the blame game and the next step is the way to the courts?
None of the above: current efforts are in the right direction and the well will be shut off very soon (says BP; trust it at your own peril).
The perceived “lackadaisical” attitude of the Obama administration about the seriousness of the spill is opening the door to all sorts of speculation and “they should’ve” and “they should have not” accusations.
The right has tried to establish parallels with G.W. Bush’s Katrina response disaster, but the comparison is unfounded.
The left has pointed the government’s “coziness” with big oil and willingness to turn the other way (and keep issuing permits to companies) but that relationship predates the current disaster by many administrations.
Are environmental organizations being kept away from the actual site, limited, if at all, to cleanup efforts only?
These questions must be answered immediately by this administration if it’s to be taken seriously about energy policy. And it’s time to stop sidetracking the discussion towards the wonders of nuclear energy and to effectively make a choice for real “clean” fuels, or we’re doomed to keep on watching hopelessly to another catastrophic oil spill, live cameras notwithstanding, that will surely follow this one.

***

A Sore Sight

BP finally releases videos of oil being spilled underwater in the Gulf of Mexico. (It ain’t pretty). Huffington Post

WATCH IT

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***

xxxxx

One thought on “Live From the Gulf

  1. Carlinhos says:

    PERIGO!!! – Enquanto alguns países buscam soluções mais seguras o governo do Brasil quer explorar petróleo na faixa do pré-sal.

    Like

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