Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why was Deepwater Horizon in deep water?

What made it necessary to drill for oil at 5000 feet of ocean depth?

Here's a post from Steve Malley at Red State about the "ham sandwich" indictment of a British Petroleum engineer involved in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The Deepwater Horizon, as you'll recall, was an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that exploded and caused a major oil leak in the Gulf.

The prosecution of the engineer (who had nothing to do with the explosion or spill itself) is a fine example of prosecutorial zeal, probably excessive, but it's just the pretense for a post I've been meaning to write for a while.

Here's the post I've been meaning to write:

Why was the Deepwater Horizon in deep water?

Huh?, you say. This is why it matters.

Ever since the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, near-shore drilling for oil near the continental U.S. has been heavily regulated by environmental laws, and in many places effectively banned. In order to obtain oil offshore, oil companies have had to build their rigs far out at sea, in deep water. The Deepwater Horizon was in 5000 feet of water. Capping it took three months. Yet there is oil available in shallow water near the coast-- in shallow water, where capping an oil leak is much safer, easier, and faster.

Oil rig accidents are inevitable. They're going to happen, despite the best precautions, regulations, etc. In the real world, accidents happen.

So why require oil rigs to drill in deep water, where blowouts of oil wells are so much more difficult to stop?

If the Deepwater Horizon had been the Shallowwater Horizon, the work to stop the leak could have been done in 50 feet of water, not 5000 feet. Much quicker, much safer.

The nutcase environmental regulations that force us to drill for oil in the deep ocean are what made the Deepwater Horizon spill so catastrophic.

Another example of the deep responsibility of environmentalists for environmental disasters is the Exxon Valdez oil spill. in 1989 the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound in Alaska, spilling 10 million gallons of oil into the water.

Environmentalists went berserk, naturally, but a cogent analysis of the spill would begin with this question: why were we transporting Alaskan oil by ship anyway?

From Investors Business Daily:
[The] Exxon Valdez disaster... was also ironically made possible by a desire to protect the environment. 
The original plan when oil was discovered at Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's North Slope was to build a pipeline directly to the northern border of the 48 contiguous states. Groups like the Sierra Club waged a major battle against both the Prudhoe Bay development and the pipeline. 
They lost on the drilling but won a small victory in forcing the pipeline to not traverse the continent via a safer land route but to dead end at the port of Valdez, Alaska. The rest, as they say, is history.

But for the Sierra Club and other environmentalist wackos, the oil from Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope would never have been on a ship in Prince William Sound. A land pipeline would have been much safer, and would have prevented the environmental disaster.

But environmental policy in this country is not driven by good sense and accountability. The environmental regulations that contribute to environmental disasters are never questioned, and the green loons who peddle them are never called to account. The mainstream media covers for these bastards.

Search the internet in vain for any consistent account of the role that radical environmentalists play in causing environmental disasters.

Stupid arrogant counterproductive unaccountable policies are the best that radical environmentalists do. The worst thing they do-- and they do a lot of it-- is genocide


  1. Rather than drilling in shallow water, let's drill in no water at all. Let's drill on land! While pursuing other forms of energy too, of course. "All of the above" is sane energy policy.


    1. Addendum: Except nuclear. Nuclear sucks.


    2. Ben,

      They're drilling offshore because all (or at least, most) the easy onshore oil reserves (at least in America) have already been tapped.

      'Tight' oil (similar to shale gas) might provide a significant reserve, but it also requires fracking, with initial heating in place followed by a waiting period of several years before it's recovered.

      It also has the problem that it requires large volumes of water, which then becomes unavailable for agriculture.

      Actually, if you're going to have a leak from an offshore oil rig it's best to have it in deep water far off the coast. Shallow near-coast waters are the most productive parts of the oceans. Deep oceans are a relative desert.

      The Deepwater Horizon leak didn't cause much damage because it was so remote in warm water. It provided a bonanza for the marine bacteria which had evolved to benefit from natural oil seeps.

      I wouldn't agree that nuclear 'sucks'. Nuclear power is still going to have to be an option, as fossil fuels become increasingly expensive.

      The decision by Clinton/Gore to cancel funding for the 4th generation nuclear reactor was a mistake (it promised to be able to take the waste from 3rd generation nuclear reactors and produce waste requiring to be stored for hundreds of years instead of thousands). Thorium reactors are also promising - there's much more thorium than uranium.

    3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyNovember 12, 2013 at 7:40 AM

      Anon: "The decision by Clinton/Gore to cancel funding for the 4th generation nuclear reactor was a mistake..."

      You got that right. If there is to be an energy future, it lies in nuclear technology (unless Gold was right about deep gas, which is pretty doubtful).

  2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyNovember 12, 2013 at 7:31 AM

    The arrogance is obvious, as the Doc points out, in the ridiculous "solutions" people who couldn't manage a Subway manage to impose on the energy industry.

    But the greenloon attitude toward permitting modern civilization to migrate to the world's poor is a perfect example of paternal colonialism fueled by naked greed. Under the radar, they destroy opportunities for development in poor countries using lawfare. A perfect example is the unraveling lawsuit against Chevron over an oilfield in Ecuador. They even trotted out Daryl Hannah for that one. It is a case full of lies, fraud, and payoffs by the greenloon lawfare community, and has turned into a racketeering case against the plaintiffs' lawyers. Click over to the WSJ summary. Read the whole disgusting story.

    But even more disgusting are the Western greenloons who fly around on jumbo jets and venture out in air-conditioned Land Rovers to visit poor countries and gawk at the residents. It's like going to the zoo. I call it Picturesque Poor tourism. See the quaint costumes! Look at the interesting habits! They're all so thin! They don't even need personal trainers! And they're locavores! Just like us!

    Some gawkers, like Madonna, are even rich enough to buy a pet native to take home and put on a vegan diet to see if they will thrive.

    One of my favorite illustrations of Picturesque Poor tourism is a video of two rich Western greenloons watching a farmer work. The Western tourists are each clad in "activewear" that probably cost more than the indigenous farmer's annual income, and they coo over the farmer's operation of a treadle pump to irrigate his fields. Can you imagine having to pump that ridiculous contraption in the heat of the tropics or watch your family starve?

    If I knew who the poor farmer was, I'd buy him a diesel pump.

  3. I wouldn't trust anything IBD writes. They make it sound like land pipelines are accident-free. Hardly.

    List of pipeline accidents in the United States 1975 to 1999

    Just a few big ones:
    * 1979 On May 13, a 36-inch Colonial Pipeline rupture released 336,000 US gallons (1,270,000 L) of fuel oil.

    * 1979 On June 16, operator error at Colonial Pipeline causes a rail shipping induced crack section of 36-inch pipeline to rupture in Greenville County, South Carolina. 395,000 gallons of fuel oil were spilled.

    * 1983 On March 27, a pump for a petroleum products pipeline broke, causing up to 420,000 gallons of diesel fuel to spill into the Bowie River in Collins, Mississippi

    * 1986 A gravel company endloader ruptured a Lakehead Pipeline crude oil pipeline on April 12 near Elgin, Illinois, spill about 525,000 gallons of crude.

    * 1988 A 22 inch crude oil pipeline ruptures near Vienna, Missouri on December 24, spilling more than 860,000 US gallons (3,300,000 L) of crude oil into the Gasconade River.

    I can go on and on.


    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyNovember 12, 2013 at 9:34 AM

      Hoots: "They make it sound like land pipelines are accident-free."

      They do? Cite the text that led you to that conclusion.

    2. Here you are, Grandpa. The article concludes with this sentence:

      Those who would ban fracking also need to consider that if oil companies rather than environmentalists were allowed to decide how to drill for and deliver oil, neither the Exxon Valdez nor the Deepwater Horizon spills need to have happened.

      The clear implication is that there would be no disasters. They conveniently forget to mention that there would be disasters associated with ruptured pipelines. On land instead of at sea.


    3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyNovember 12, 2013 at 10:35 AM

      Hoots: The clear implication is that there would be no disasters.

      You should demand a refund from your English tutor.

      If the oil had been flowing through an onshore pipeline, "neither the Exxon Valdez nor the Deepwater Horizon spills [would] have happened."

      There is absolutely no disputing that.

    4. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyNovember 12, 2013 at 10:39 AM

      Make up your mind, Hoots...

      "They make it sound like land pipelines are accident-free."
      "The clear implication is that there would be no disasters."

      You don't know what the hell you're talking about, or even what point you want to make.


    5. O Grandpa, I am pretty sure you will be back. You just can't resist replying to my comments. I am your favorite grandchild!

      Your argument is silly. Indeed if they gave Exxon Valdez some other name there would be no Exxon Valdez disaster. See? The problem was in choosing the wrong name! There would be some other disaster, to be sure, but that is not important right now.

      See you soon, Grandpa!


  4. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyNovember 12, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    You knew this was coming, didn't you?

    The Philippines delegate at the UN Climate Change talks that began on Monday has blamed Typhoon Haiyan on climate change...
    --- Daily Telegraph

    Apparently, he's promised to go on a hunger strike until "a meaningful outcome is in sight".

    He has my enthusiastic support.

    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyNovember 12, 2013 at 10:55 AM

      What! I'm supporting Mr Sano!

      I think he should fast until significant progress has been made on mitigating the dire, evil, apocalyptic, supernovaic threat of the evil, ugly, mean, Republican, Bushistic, Cheneyesque carbon dioxide molecule.

      And in other news:

      The United Nation's panel of climate experts revised estimates of historical greenhouse gas emissions, made in September, both up and down on Monday...
      --- NBC News

      And if sideways had been an option, you can be sure they would have done that, too. They got this goebbel warming thing nailed down like warm Jell-o on a teflon wall.

    2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyNovember 12, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      People are dying every second of every day, Popster. Should we outlaw jokes? Is that where you're headed with this?

      But this is a great illustration of the difference between Progressives and libertarians. When you and I disagree, you think I'm evil. When you and I disagree, I think you're wrong.

      Now I know full well there is a right and wrong. But, as a materialist atheist, you don't even believe in evil.

    3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyNovember 12, 2013 at 5:01 PM

      When jokes are outlawed, only outlaws will tell jokes.

      And you'll have to pry my jokes from my cold, dead hands.

      Joke control is not about jokes; it's about control.

  5. I agree with the post but my question is, how did we ever get to the point where the Looney Left is running the country? The Left controls most of the media, all universities and all public schools and most of our courts as well as our environmental policy. What happened to the thought processes of normal Americans that they let the insane run the asylum and when will it be time to say enough is enough?

    1. The answer is simple, Rich. The right wing nuts are not interested in academia. They are not interested in journalism. They are not interested in governing. They are interested in shrinking the government, but that is not the same as governing.


    2. Rich and Hoo,

      As strange as it sounds, I think you're both close.
      The truth is that the modern political trend is to polarize. Neither side is running anything they are not permitted to. It is an age old game of playing off two (or more) extremes to produce a synthesis that is agreeable to the oligarchs.
      Want to know who they are? Make like a cop and follow the money.

    3. At last! common ground.

      For, as "[The right wing nuts] are not interested in governing", so too, are the murderous leftists "not interested in governing". Different reasons, though.

      Yes, indeed, we "right wing nuts ... are interested in shrinking the government" ... for, we simply want to be left alone to live as we see fit, nor do we particularly want to tell *you* what to do. We "right wing nuts" are pretty much live and let live sorts.

      In contrast, the murderous leftists "are interested in [expanding] the government". Always. Everywhere. And the reason murderous leftists are "not interested in governing", is because they're interested only in ruling, which is a very different thing from governing. Also, it's far easier to commit mass-murder against those you rule than those you govern.

    4. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyNovember 12, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      Academia, journalism, and government: the three most left-wing institutions in the country and the source of draconian environmental regulation, seizure of the health care economy, 24/7/365 propaganda, and the ubiquitous surveillance state.

    5. Academia includes hard sciences. One's political orientation plays no role in how successful one is in physics or biology. Yet the vast majority of scientists vote Democrat. What gives? Apparently conservatives are not interested in science. You, guys, only have yourselves to blame.


    6. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyNovember 12, 2013 at 4:24 PM

      "What gives?"

      NSF, NIH, DoE, DoI, NIMH, HHS, DoT, NASA, NOAA, NIST, USGS, et. al.

      If government subsidies are included, goebbel warming alone was funded to the tune of $22 billion dollars.
      --- Source: Federal Climate Change Expenditures Report to Congress (Table 1)

      Explaining why academics in all disciplines, including the physical and biological sciences, vote Democrat ain't exactly rocket surgery. Same reason some folks rob banks and steal ATMs: "That's where the money is."

    7. On second thought, maybe it's all right. After all, plumbers and builders, too, have political bias: they tend to be right-wing. No one thinks that there is a nefarious plot to keep liberals out of these professions.

      So maybe it's okay to leave academia and government to liberals. Stick to what you do best, guys.


    8. O grandpa, back so soon? Missing your favorite grandson already?


    9. Hoo,

      I think that further indicates the 'branding' of politics. One flavour to appeal to the masses, one flavour to appeal to the intelligentsia. You buy the whole package, or you are an outcast from either group. Like some horrible cable TV or cell phone deal.
      Neither group is actually in control, even when it appears they are, but are tools in an endless, cyclical game that keeps the SAME people in real control.
      While I sympathize more with the plight of the common, working man than I do with the academic elites (of which I am a defector), I can clearly see the positives for both and the negatives for both.
      Some may think I am suggesting there needs to be a new party in (your) the system. I am not. I am suggesting that is the whole idea. To fragment. To divide and rule.
      Either way you choose the real establishment wins and what could be described as a corporatist oligarchy rules the day. Anarcho-Corporatism on one end, Socialist Corporatism on the other. It is a choice between the lesser of two evils and it should be rejected.
      Even what I have often described as my own political leaning (libertarianism) is infected with this dialectic.
      The way out? To reject the whole mess.
      To leave the conventions empty.
      To think for yourselves and not buy the 'package' deal.
      if that kind of disobedience occurs (and it has in the past!) it will result in a realignment that allows for real leadership (as opposed to rule) to emerge.

    10. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyNovember 12, 2013 at 4:51 PM

      New subject, Hoots. And, sadly, you must recall... you're only in the Top Five. Not #1. Although you do tend to be the most garrulous. But I love Popeye too, and Troi my Boi is right up there.

      And, yes, everybody knows your opinion of plumbers and carpenters. Progressives are real egalitarians. But I can appreciate why you would want to "stay out" of those professions. You couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.

    11. Hello grandpa! I knew you couldn't resist! Great to see you, old fartknocker!

      I certainly wouldn't want to be a plumber or a carpenter. I am not good at these things. I can hang drywall and replace windows, but I don't enjoy the process and wouldn't be the best guy for these jobs. I am good at what I do, and that happens to be an academic pursuit. To each his own.


  6. Yet another excellent piece, ME!

    1. Ilion,

      Thanks. I agree with your comments above.

      Leftism is all about power-- ruling, not governing. Leftists take over institutions, particularly institutions related to government or dependent on government funding. They're like viruses, only harder to eradicate.

  7. I agree Rex that there's a political industrial complex if you will that has a vested interest in locking both sides in perpetual conflict but never solving the problem and inching ever closer to complete societal control, but I don't think the outcome is inevitable. I think that's why the establishment republicans so fear and hate the Tea Party. The Tea Party, at least until they become corrupted by power, still want to eliminate crony capitalism and that threatens organizations like the US Chamber of Commerce who invested millions in this last election to defeat Tea Party candidates.

    Hoo is there any limit to the size or control of government where you would say, "this is too much?"

    1. Silly question, Rich. Of course there is a limit. 15 kilodalton.


    2. Big Rich,

      I agree that the outcome is NOT inevitable. In fact, I think these 'projects' have shown again and again that they eventually implode. It can take decades or even centuries, but they are doomed by the hubris that inspires them.
      I would not, however, agree that the tea party movement is, in itself, the solution. It seems to me that the tea party movement is just the beginning of something much broader. Perhaps a 'template' for something much larger, more encompassing, and far more profound, A start, but only for a certain aspect of the spectrum.
      I may be wrong about this. It could be the spark. On the other hand it could be a more elaborate effort at polarization. To judge that, we will have to see where it goes and who it can muster in it's ranks.
      Anyway, glad to see there is others who can recognize the pattern here.

    3. You go ahead, guys, and split the Republican party in two. I'd be curious to see how that works out.


    4. I am not a member of either party and do not vote in the US, Hoo.
      If I did, I can honestly say that neither party would match up with what I see as effective government (ie leadership, not rule).

  8. Big RIch,

    The problem is that the 'left' has been given a temporary ascendency. This is the game's very nature. Right now they cannot see the efforts, because they are being used, and so are put on a kind of 'defensive mode'. A similar fog of 'hope' was recently felt by the majority of the so called 'right' under Bush.
    A (modern edition) newspeak phrase that might encapsulate this spirit would be 'Blue team FTW!'
    Hoo is bright enough that he will see it when the time is right. I suspect the veneer is already to beginning to crack for those on the ideological 'left', as they see the roll out of AHC and it's consequences on their constituencies,
    Like an old boat, they have been used to deliver a load of toxic waste and are now being scuttled. It may (just may!) be enough to wake some of them up to the Realpolitik of the day.