Posted by: JDM..... | June 1, 2010

Resolving the BP/Deepwater Horizon disaster…

…..or “he said, she said”…

I’m not big on conspiracy theories, especially when it comes to government entities. First of all, I sincerely doubt a government entity could remain cohesive enough, long enough, to carry one off. Secondly, human nature demands that someone would “leak” the story….to make a buck, to make a mess, to manipulate the politic, or just because they were in a snit over their last Performance Evaluation.

That said, I am dumbfounded at the gullibility of the public in regards to the unplugged Gulf of Mexico oil well off the coast of Louisiana. Our collective bile is leveled at the BP oil company, with some requisite small change left over to toss at the government either for not fixing it or for letting it happen in the first place.

In apparent direct contradiction to my opening statement I have to wonder why BP is taking all of the heat for this disaster and who is benefitting from that circumstance. It’s as if BP motored into the Gulf, erected a platform, drilled a hole, and started sucking crude out of the epidermis of the planet while everyone else was home watching a football game on TV and having a beer. That is unbelievably naïve.

To begin with, the well in question was drilled by Halliburton (NYSE: HAL), not BP, and it blew out while Halliburton was sealing the well with cement. Supposedly, shortcuts were taken in the matter of lining the well, and it has not been said whether that was BP’s call or Halliburton’s. The “blow-out” and subsequent explosion and fire sank the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, built by Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) and leased by BP, killing eleven workers.

When the well blew, one of the safety systems in place was a “blow out valve”, but it failed to shut automatically. It was manufactured by Cameron (NYSE: CAM).

Then, there are the contributions of government to the disaster, beginning with the State of Louisiana itself which reportedly more than 4,500 coastal permits to energy companies between 2005 and 2009 without denying a single application. Obviously, any state rich in natural resources stands to benefit enormously by exploiting those assets and the pressure to make those decisions more on economic and political factors than on science or environmental concerns must be great.

The federal government also has a role to play in the regulation of off-shore drilling activities. Regardless of one’s political orientation, hindsight will be sure to reveal that someone, somewhere, either dropped the ball or failed to pick it up in the first place.

The liability for the oil well disaster in the Gulf wears many hats in addition to that of BP, which of course bears the focal point of the responsibility because they were running the operation. Some of the more extreme pundits claim that each of us bears responsibility every time we fill up at the pump, but they warrant about as much attention as those who worry about whether lobsters scream in pain when they are cooked. Surely, it would be beneficial for the human species to figure out how to coexist with the rest of its environment. While brief flashes of brilliance in that regard are bound to occur from time to time around the world, on the whole it would be quite foreign to our innate character as hunter-conquerors, with parasitic tendencies, to do so either globally or as a spontaneous species-wide behavioral change.

The well will most likely be plugged at some point in time by some effort, or it will simply run dry, but in one way or another, the crisis will end. The planet will heal itself in spite of short-sighted human efforts to do so first, though its methods and adaptations may not be in sync with humanity’s blueprints for the way things should be. In the long run, humanity will have to adapt to the planet’s evolution, not the other way around. In the meantime, amid the finger pointing and posturing and transfers of wealth, it would be nice if we could learn something about ourselves from this whole thing in addition to learning better ways to exploit our environment’s largess.

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