Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Drill Baby, Drill!" - Of Walruses and Sea Otters

Port Townsend, today. Like you, my concern about the developments below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico continues. Due largely in part to my interest in geology, I am a member of a couple of discussion groups composed of professionals in the oil drilling industry and have learned more from those groups than mainstream media, for sure!

Not to fear, the focus of "Oil-Electric" will always be twin shiny rails. Some 18 articles are in various stages of development from EMD's GM6C Thyristor locomotives through Northern Pacific's U25C's. They are, so to speak, "In the hole!"

Deepwater Horizon, April 2010 [AP]

Two controversial documents we've been hearing a lot about as the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico continues are the "Oil Spill Response Plan," and the "Drilling Plan" submitted for approval to the Minerals Management Services under the Department of the Interior.

Oil Spill Response Plan. This is the document which seems to prove that BP merely did a "cut 'n paste" from their Prudhoe Bay Plan, in that it lists protecting "walruses" and "sea otters," page 249, not generally found in the Gulf of Mexico. It is also the document that lists emergency phone numbers for organizations that no longer exit, and a prominent professor, who passed away 5 years before the plan was published.

This fact made for some uncomfortable minutes for the oil executives, during today's five-hour hearing before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.


Oil company executives, from left, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, Chevron CEO John Watson, ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva, Shell Oil President Marvin Odum and BP America President Lamar McKay testify Wednesday. (Reuters)

Rep. Ed Markey, chairman of the House subcommittee, and one of BP's most vocal critics, toyed with the oil executives the way a cat does a mouse:

"As I mentioned in my opening statement, the Gulf of Mexico response plans for ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell are virtually identical to BP's and just as deficient. As you can see by looking at the covers for these five plans - on the screen and over my head - the pictures are the same for each plan.

All that is changed is the color of the cover of the plan from each of the companies seated at the table. Mr. Tillerson, like BP, on page 11-6 of your plan, ExxonMobil's Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Response Plan lists walruses under sensitive biological and human resources.

As I am sure you know, there aren't any walruses in the Gulf of Mexico and there have not been for 3 million years. How can ExxonMobil have walruses in their response plan for the Gulf of Mexico?"

Click to Read

And as it came out in the House Hearing today, all the oil companies are using this same plan, with obvious changes in name, and different tinting color, and same erroneous information. Shocking evidence of the shenanigans taking place at the Minerals Management Services during the previous administration, and further evidence of Big Oil's contempt for the general public.

Drilling Plan. The Drilling Plan, is the "rule book" if you will, that states what BP's responsibilities during drilling operations on Mississippi Block 252. This plan is submitted to the Minerals Management Services (MMS) of the Department of the Interior.

Analysis and approval of the plan by MMS are necessary before drilling is permitted. In essence, it is supposed to insure that the licensee will drill in a responsible manner and has made contingency plans to handle all foreseeable emergencies. Reference Paragraphs 2.5 and 2.7:

Click to Read

Of course, as damages are inflicted upon the Gulf coast beaches and estuaries, it is interesting to find this paragraph within the document: Coastal Wildlife Refuges - An accidental oil spill from the proposed activities could cause impacts to coastal wildlife refuges. However, due to the distance to shore (48 miles) and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected.

All this paperwork is so much smoke and mirrors that obviously no one in the Federal government has paid attention to. The oil companies have been operating by their own game plan, without regard to character, honesty, or integrity. Out of sight, out of mind, 42 miles offshore.

"We could not have stopped the Gulf oil gusher," ExxonMobil chief told Congress. Rex Tillerson and other oil bosses say they would have stopped drilling if they hit the problems BP faced.

The bottom line to this Gothic horror story was enunciated most succinctly by Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) who said British Petroleum has effectively admitted to "making it up as they go" in regard to finding a solution to the spill.

If this is true, sounds to me like they should not have been drilling out there in the first place.

See Also:
M/V Joe Griffin and the Magic Box
Tragedy in the Gulf

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