Thursday, June 17, 2010

Will Big Oil Offshore Drilling Produce More Big Oil Spills Offshore?

In her 2008 book,The Tyranny of Oil: The World's Most Powerful Industry--And What We Most Do To Stop It, Antonia Juhasz explained why offshore oil drilling by Big Oil was likely to produce offshore accidents, spills and explosions in places like the Gulf of Mexico:

"Offshore drilling is a Herculean technological and financial feat. All too often, however, technology proves inadequate, appropriate financial investments are not made, and accidents happen. Given the size and scale of these facilities, even a minor incident can have catastrophic impacts. Accidents, spills, leaks, fires, explosions, and blowouts are far too frequent occurences that have led to the deaths of hundreds of workers.

"Many of the platforms operating off the United States and in international waters were built in the 1960s. Many are twenty, thirty, or even forty years old. Even with new facilities, however, deadly and dangerous accidents are frequent. According to the most recent statistics available, compiled by the Department of the Interior, more than 70 incidents on the U.S. outer Continental Shelf resulted in oil spills between 1980 and 1999. In California alone, at least 5 major spills occurred on offshore platforms belonging to Exxon and Chevron, among others, from 1991 to 1997. Oil is extremely toxic, and current cleanup methods are incapable of removing more than a small fraction of the oil spilled in marine waters.

"The causes of such incidents worldwide include human error, poor equipment, mechanical defects, structural failure, and earthquakes. An increasing problem is extreme weather, particularly hurricanes. As a result of these storms, offshore oil rigs and platforms are tipping, collapsing, exploding, and floating out to sea with increasing frequency. As global warming intensifies, weather conditions will become more extreme and such events will occur with greater frequency--further harming our oceans and threatening the safety of workers...

"Every major oil company has experienced serious accidents on rigs across the United States and around the world. It is estimated that nearly 600 people have died in them worldwide since 1965...

"...Today our nation is once again ruled by a handful of corporate oil interests...Any formula designed to lessen the control of Big Oil over our government and the world's most vital natural resources must therefore consider the breakup of the nation's largest oil corporations, the spawn of Standard Oil: Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Conoco/Phillips, Marathon, Valero, Shell-US, and BP America..."

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