Monday, 5 July 2010

My two (Ront) cents on the spill

This oil spill is such a fuck up. As something of an oil and gas industry 'insider' (I'm not really, but kind of) this whole thing seems to have been mismanaged by absolutely everyone who has had a hand in it, even (sad to have to point it out) Barack. Good luck 'ending US reliance on foreign oil' if you shut the Gulf of Mexico down dude. Not that the GoM was ever going to keep the US market happy mind you, but i cant see the sense (other than the political sense) in getting all twitchy sphincter about new developments in the gulf because of a spill. Thats not to say that something shouldnt be done, but there are loads of rigs operating already (not just in the GoM), and unless you want to shut them down too, a considered attack on safety and maintenance policy is probably better than knee jerk threats and sabre rattling.

Sadly, the world still needs the oil and gas, and they need it pulled out of the ground by a bunch of cowboys because that is mostly who runs the industry (except for the supermajors, of course). It's a shitty industry, but that's what has developed over the years, and the US govt (though maybe not the current US govt) needs to take some responsibility for that.

As oil companies go, 'British Petroleum' (in Obama speak) are actually really risk averse - like most of the supermajors. You should see their technical specifications compared to some of the other smaller operators we deal with (ever seen technical specs from a small SEAsian joint venture looking to exploit a reserve in the Gulf of Thailand, or offshore Indonesia?... pretty light on detail).
Tony Hayward is a massive knob, and it really is an awful thing that has happened - someone will surely be to blame when the slick has cleared - but right now would be a good time to keep your head down and fix the problem while keeping one eye on other long term options rather than getting all Johnny Two-Guns and promising to 'kick some ass'. Only thing I can't work out is whether this whole thing strengthens or weakens the argument for nuclear. I hope it's the former.


Dr Phil said...

Captain Obvious says, everyone who drives and also gets self-righteous at an oil company with an impeccable record, is not thinking clearly. Also, American indignation is especially rich in light of Bopal and probably countless other disasters perpetrated by American companies in the developing world, with no consequences whatsoever for said companies.

Greg said...

I agree Captain Obvious, but i think (perhaps naively) that most people nowadays realise where their fuel comes from and where it goes after they have burned it in their SUV. It is possible to extract oil without causing enormous environmental damage though, and I dont think any government is unreasonable in expecting that.

The hipocracy over Bhopal aside, what i was tring to say is that the US governments threats and complaints rather than actual action isnt helping matters. To be fair, there isnt a lot that they can do at the leak itself (though clearly James Cameron knows more about upstream oil and gas processing than all of BP put together so maybe they should have consulted him!), but if Obama started talking about new energy strategy for instance, rather than whinging about BP and threatening overzealous action in the GoM, I think he'd come off looking a bit more considered, and a lot more convincing.

Greg said...

Thats odd! I commented, but now my comment has disappeared... Is google owned by BP?