Posts Tagged ‘BP’

Special mention

Special mention

Special mention

Cartoon of the day

Posted: 26 April 2011 in Uncategorized
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Portugal is on the edge: My university colleague Robert Fishman argues Portugal has been done in by the markets—especially the rating agencies, the same ones that were complicit in the financial crisis of 2008.

The Gulf of Mexico remains on the edge: BP has not even come close to cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico.

New economic thinking about the crisis is also on the edge: Inside the “monstrous monkey house” that was the Institute for New Economic Thinking conference at Bretton Woods,

150 years later, the United States continues to be on the edge: We’re still fighting the Civil War.

Life in West Virginia is certainly on the edge: Massey Energy has vanished an entire town to get at the coal.

British things blow up

Posted: 6 November 2010 in Uncategorized
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And it can’t be blamed on the IRA. . .

Crude blackmail

Posted: 3 September 2010 in Uncategorized
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BP is now using the rest of its operations in the Gulf of Mexico to blackmail U.S. politicians.

According to the New York Times,

BP is warning Congress that if lawmakers pass legislation that bars the company from getting new offshore drilling permits, it may not have the money to pay for all the damages caused by its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The company says a ban would also imperil the ambitious Gulf Coast restoration efforts that officials want the company to voluntarily support.

BP s the number one producer of oil and gas offshore in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. It pumps

400,000 barrels a day and [accounts] for about 20 percent of total production from deepwater reservoirs in the region. The company operates 89 production wells and shares a stake in 60 other wells operated by partner companies. . .

“The gulf is the most profitable barrel in BP’s portfolio,” said Fadel Gheit, a managing director at Oppenheimer & Company. He estimated that the gulf generated $5 billion to $7 billion in profits annually for BP, or about a quarter of the company’s total.

It’s time that BP is declared Too Big to Drill.

Oil spill numbers

Posted: 3 August 2010 in Uncategorized
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The numbers just keep climbing, now making the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by far the largest in U.S. history and perhaps the largest in world history.

According to the Washington Post, the blown-out Macondo well released oil and natural gas at a rate 12 times faster than the government and BP estimated in the early weeks of the crisis and has spilled a whopping 4.9 million barrels, or 205.8 million gallons, to date.

Macondo’s flow rate has been a major source of controversy since the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon. Early in the crisis, the Coast Guard and BP pegged the flow at 5,000 barrels a day, sticking with that figure even as outside scientists declared that it low-balled the actual rate. The flow rate team, assembled in May, tried to come up with a more solid figure. Scientists examining the surface slick as well as video taken by submersibles soon upped the estimate; by early June, the government declared the flow to be 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day. . .

The new figures indicate that the roughly 800,000 barrels of oil that BP managed to capture with its various containment strategies — a riser insertion tool, a “top hat,” and flaring from a surface rig — represented only about one-sixth of the crude that surged into the gulf over the course of nearly three months. In all, about 1.2 million barrels of oil have been accounted for, either burned, captured or skimmed off the ocean’s surface. That’s about a quarter of the new estimate for the total spill.

No one knows where the other three-quarters of the oil has gone but it’s likely it remains underwater, contaminating vast swathes of the Gulf below the surface.

Here, according to Foreign Policy, are the five other top oil spills in history:

GULF WAR (Persian Gulf, 21 January 1991)
Amount: Between 160 million and 420 million gallons
How it happened: As Iraqi forces withdrew from their position in Kuwait, they sabotaged hundreds of wells, oil terminals, and tankers. All told, a minimum of 4 million barrels were poured into the Persian Gulf.

THE IXTOC 1 OIL WELL (Gulf of Mexico, 3 June 1979 – 23 March 1980)
Amount: 138 million gallons
How it happened: This exploratory oil well suffered a catastrophic blowout (whereby pressure causes the well to explode), caught fire, and caused the drilling platform to collapse. For months, 10,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil gushed into the ocean every day.

Amount: 90 million gallons
How it happened: Two fully loaded oil carriers, the Atlantic Empress and the Aegean Captain, collided 10 miles off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago during a tropical rainstorm. Both ships caught fire and began leaking their contents in what would become the largest tanker-based spill ever recorded.

NOWRUZ PLATFORM (Persian Gulf, 4 February 1983 – 18 September 1983)
Amount: 80 million gallons
How it happened: During the height of the Iran-Iraq War, an oil tanker hit the Nowruz Field Platform in the gulf and knocked it onto a 45 degree angle, damaging the well underneath. The resulting leak of 1,500 barrels a day could not be capped for months because the platform was under constant attack by Iraqi planes.

ABT SUMMER (off the coast of Angola, 28 May 1991)
Amount: 80 million gallons
How it happened: The ABT Summer, a tanker holding 260,000 tons of crude, suffered an explosion 900 miles off the coast of Angola. It burned for three days before sinking and was never recovered.

The numbers matter—because, first, they give us a sense of the magnitude of the spill and the associated consequences on nature and society, and, second, they provide dramatic evidence of the lengths BP and other energy companies will go to obtain their profits.

BP has been spreading its oil around the Gulf. Now, it’s trying to buy up the scientists who work in the Gulf.

According to a report by Inside Higher Education, BP has been offering large sums of money to academic scientists to conduct research on the damages inflicted by the oil spill. The kicker is that the scientific consultants have to enter into agreements that restrict them from discussing or publishing their research for at least the next three years.

Cary Nelson has penned a strong response to the entire idea of restrictive consulting contracts:

Both during the immediate crisis and for an extended period as government leaders and the courts figure out how to respond to the Gulf tragedy, the work these scientists do will essentially belong to BP, which will be free to suppress it or characterize it in any way it chooses. Faculty members under contract to BP, meanwhile, would be unable to testify against the company in court and would be available to testify on the company’s behalf. Several faculty members in the area have confirmed to the American Association of University Professors that they have been offered contracts by BP in exchange for restrictive confidentiality clauses. A notably chilling provision directs contracted scientists to communicate through BP’s lawyers, thus raising the possibility that research findings will be constrained by lawyer-client privilege.

The oil spill is not only a catastrophic economic and environmental disaster for the Gulf region; it also has major implications for energy policy in both the United States and the rest of the world. The ability to share research results promptly and freely is not only a basic tenet of academic freedom; in this case, it is also critical to the health of the region and the world. While more investigative work is needed, the very prospect of an interested corporation worth billions of dollars blocking the free exchange of university research and controlling the work scientists choose to do is deeply disturbing. If knowledgeable scientists cannot testify in court, the ability of injured parties to win just compensation is also jeopardized. But the long-term threat to American society is still more grave: we need independent faculty voices, perhaps more so now — in a knowledge-based society — than ever before.

Fortunately, at least one university has refused to cooperate:

Denis Wiesenburg, vice president for research at the University of Southern Mississippi, says the university quickly ruled out becoming involved with BP on a campus-wide scale.“We made it pretty clear from the beginning that we weren’t interested as a university in taking on that particular effort on behalf of BP,” Wiesenburg says. “We don’t obviously want to become the University of BP in this instance.”

The problem is, this still leaves individual faculty members free to cooperate with BP.

BP’s attempt to buy academic expertise and curtail academic freedom is just the latest example of how corporate funding has come to define the nature of the university.

Cartoon of the day

Posted: 14 July 2010 in Uncategorized
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