Too Big to Exist (TBE) – Big Oil

Michael Collins

There is no viable solution in sight for the out of control oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. The stunning failure of British Petroleum (BP) raises the question – are these oil giants too big to exist? Are they too dangerous to function in our presence? BP has four permanent deep water structures and 28 boreholes operating at a water depth of greater than 5000 feet in the Gulf of Mexico. What’s next?

British Petroleum (BP) had the resources to drill the well but lacked the planning and ability to deal with its failure. The oil giant’s performance inspired ridicule by Jon Stewart in a recent Daily Show comment (“There will be blame“). The White House was not amused, however. Nobel Prize winning physicist and Secretary of the Energy, Steven Chu, is now in Houston with a team of cutting edge scientists tasked with mentoring BP and devising a viable solution as the oil giant continues to falter.

There is a well known history of oil company accidents including blazing oil rigs, the Exxon Valdez tanker leak, and the Prudhoe Bay pipeline collapse (another BP special). But nothing matches the collapse of BP’s Deepwater Horizon structure at the Macondo prospect, Gulf of Mexico.

The failed site is gushing between 200,000 and one million gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico. The Center for Biological Diversity reported that the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the federal agency that approved drilling, routinely ignored Federal biologists by issuing waivers that failed to take into account the impact of drilling near endangered species.

Adding humans as an endangered species might be a timely move. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) produced a document on April 28 indicating the leak could reach over two million gallons of oil a day. In addition to ravaging the Gulf of Mexico, the damage caused by oil may extend to the Florida straits and the Atlantic coast of the United States.

While BP estimates that it can contain the gusher within a week, Admiral Thad Allen of the U.S. Coast Guard is planning for the event to become a full scale catastrophe. His candid admission that half a million gallons of toxic oil dispersants have been released above and below the gulf indicates the current level of desperation to contain the accumulating mess.

Too Big to Exist

BP is a $250 billion company, one of the six largest oil and natural gas exploration and marketing companies in the world. It’s the largest corporation in the United Kingdom.

A look at its public safety record over the past five years raises questions about the ability of the company to function safely. In 2005, BP’s Texas refinery had a series of explosions that killed 15 and injured 170 more people. Residents near the refinery were confined to their homes to limit toxic exposure. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board issued a thorough report laying responsibility at BP’s doorstep. The company’s poor maintenance of the Alaska pipeline at Prudhoe Bay due to “draconian cuts” in maintenance resulted in a major oil spill in 2006.

CNN conducted a major review of BP’s challenges in light of these two disasters in 2006. Presented with evidence showing neglect of pipeline corrosion at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska the BP executive in charge claimed, “We were blindsided by the recent leaks.” At congressional hearings, one BP officials invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid “self incrimination.” BP senior management promised to take the steps necessary to moderate the company’s obsession with the bottom line at the expense of safety.

Despite promising to remedy the problems it created in both disasters, BP had a poor track record of keeping its promises prior to the current catastrophe.

After being chastised by President Barack Obama for creating a “ridiculous spectacle” in the midst of the crisis, BP’s CEO Tony Howard tried to diminish the scope of the problem. The CEO insisted that deep sea oil drilling will continue. He’s right. BP has 32 Gulf of Mexico oil operations at greater than 5000 feet.

BP is not the only oil company with a poor safety record. It’s the first big oil company to cause a catastrophe of this magnitude. It must be the last. We simply can’t tolerate these lumbering giants that place cost cutting for bigger executive bonuses above the safety and survival of those who use their energy products. If you put your customers out of business and injure or kill them, they can’t buy anything.

We are the endangered species.


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9 responses to “Too Big to Exist (TBE) – Big Oil

  1. Pingback: The Progressive Mind » Too Big to Exist (TBE) – Big Oil « COTO Report

  2. we’ve got reports that the gush could be up to 3 mn gallans a day.

    but I agree, this company should be criminalized out of existence.

    Its exeutives ought to be executed for such a mega disaster destroying thousands of lives and livelihoods.

    even better, they should fall on their own sword.

  3. oh, and now the brainiacs in charge are considering nuking the Gulf. many of those top scientists you refer to are nuclear scientists.

    jeezus… we’re all gonna die.

    • this is actually Michael Collins’ comment:

      Rady, check this out on the nuke option. It’s a world ending analysis…

      From Slashdot

      An anonymous reader writes “Here’s a listing of several scientific and economic guides for estimating the volume of flow of the leak in the Gulf of Mexico erupting at a rate of somewhere around 1 million barrels per day. A new video released shows the largest hole spewing oil and natural gas from an aperture 5 feet in diameter at a rate of approximately 4 barrels per second. The oil coming up through 5,000 feet of pressurized salt water acts like a fractionating column. What you see on the surface is just around 20% of what is actually underneath the approximate 9,000 square miles of slick on the surface. The natural gas doesn’t bubble to the top but gets suspended in the water, depleting the oxygen from the water. BP would not have been celebrating with execs on the rig just prior to the explosion if it had not been capable producing at least 500,000 barrels per day — under control. If the rock gave way due to the out-of-control gushing (or due to a nuke being detonated to contain the leak), it could become a Yellowstone Caldera type event, except from below a mile of sea, with a 1/4-mile opening, with up to 150,000 psi of oil and natural gas behind it, from a reserve nearly as large as the Gulf of Mexico containing trillions of barrels of oil. That would be an Earth extinction event.”

      • thanks for the links… I followed them.

        that’s got to be the worst idea possible —

        and the fallout tremendous.

        over here, Volaar suggested that even without nukes, this can still become an Extinction Level Event.


  4. This is the beginning of the End. The Gulf of Mexico as we know it, sadly, could become a dead zone. There is nothing we can do about it but pray. We have no say in the matter.

    These rapacious bastards in control should not have been messing around that deep without the proper safeguards. Mother Earth is pissed! We’re feeling her wrath.

    It is just so dam sad. The only known planet in the Cosmo’s that sustains life, and in just a few years time a few greedy bastards have managed to ruin it for generations to come.

    Fed’l inspections on rig not as claimed

    • I’ll tell ya, Munich, I don’t think we have the technology to extract oil under 150,000 PSI. These greedy incompetents bit the dragon this time. And WE are gonna suffer.

      capping their liability!?! they ought to be SHOT

    • You’re right and your warning on this recently got me focused. The assumption that fossil fuels are the only way is made on the basis of research by the fossil fuel power structure, i.e., “them.” It’s absurd. It fails to take into account highly focused efforts on alternatives and innovation as part of the projections for the future. Here’s an idea that should be explored.

      Solar Power’s potential to fuel the world, entirely

  5. Just want to say your article is as astounding. The clearness in your post is just spectacular and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the gratifying work.

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