This is going be a kind of “stream of consciousness” thing today, so please hang with me as it could take some time to get to the point. About the oil. Again. Down in the Gulf, where things appear to be even worse than anticipated, with as much as 210,000 gallons a day gushing from that hole in the ocean’s floor and giant clouds of oil forming beneath the surface in addition to the slicks up above. One of the “clouds” is reported to be 3-miles long, 300 feet thick and 3-miles wide. Big cloud.
So what do they do? They stick a 4-inch pipe into the 22-inch hole that’s gushing oil, and the oil doesn’t stop gushing. Golly. I’m no engineer, but isn’t that kinda like sticking a straw into a malt glass, then tipping it upside down and thinking all the malted milk will magically be drawn into the straw instead of falling all over the floor?
Relax, America. The pros from Dover have arrived. They say their straw in the big hole method is capturing 15-20% of the leaking oil. That’s 15-20% of 210,000 gallons a day.
First they tried a giant dome with a pipe on the top, which, theoretically, would have given them the ability to funnel the oil up through the dome, into the pipe and then up to a tanker on the surface. Didn’t work. Now they tried the little pipe in the big hole method, again in an attempt to channel the oil through a pipe up to a tanker on the surface. That’s capturing 15-20%, which means it isn’t working well. Even if it had worked, how much oil can one of those tankers hold and how rapidly would they be able to switch the pipe from one tanker to another?
Any of this bother you?
A couple of other methods are still under consideration. One, is the so-called “junk shot.” Dropping a bunch of golf balls and pieces of old tires and what-not on the leak, which I really can’t comprehend, but please understand, I’m no scientist. Another technique, would involve dumping a combination of cement and mud on the leaky pipe, which sounds as though it might just overwhelm the oil flow and stop the leak. The macho oil guys call it a”top kill.”
So why didn’t they try that first? Before worrying about inserting some kind of a pipe that could direct the “product” up to tankers on the surface?
Is the objective to stop the leak, or to seal the leak AND recover some or all of the oil through a pipe running to the surface? Who’s setting the agenda out there, the Coast Guard or BP?
I haven’t heard anyone raise the question, but it may be too delicate an issue for our leaders to handle. Could be another one of those “too big” issues. Like the banks that are “too big to fail.” So big, their failure could threaten the country’s future. So they’re holding that over our heads. “Leave us alone, or we’ll bring you all crashing down!”
Be kind us, Mr. big banker man. Please be good to us. It’s all way over our heads, and we really need you to run the world for us.
Thank you, Mr. Bush. Thank you Mr. Clinton. Thank you “shotgun” Cheney. Thank you for this new world order. Government of, by and for the multi-nationals.
If you think the banks have power, do a little reading about the oil companies. If you’re over 40 or 50, you may remember a time when there were independent gas stations all over town that actually competed with one another. Any number of independent refineries too. Pretty much all gone now, aren’t they?
A couple of years ago, when gas prices were approaching the ability to attain an independent orbit, a guy who runs a service station just up the street here in the beautiful San Fernando Valley, begged me to do a story about the high gas prices. “Somebody” he said, “has got to tell people that the price is being set by the refinery, and that the refinery is owned by the oil company, not me.” Poor guy was tired of people chewing his head off. Can’t blame him. He was only making a couple of pennies on each gallon he sold. The real profits were going to the oil company that owned the operation.
Control the supply and the distribution, and you control the price at the pump. Come to an unspoken agreement with your competitors about what that price at the pump should be (what the disinformation experts are now referring to as “letting the market seek its own level”) and you can pretty much just sit back and let the money roll on in. Unless a big oil spill happens. And all the fish and oysters and shrimp die, putting thousands of people out of work.
And now our nation’s leaders are attempting to get BP to agree to pay for the cleanup and other damages associated with the spill. Oh, they’ve already said they will, but apparently there’s nothing in writing and federal legislation puts a cap of $75 million on how much the oil company is obligated to spend. Why did our government geniuses agree to that when the oil companies are pulling in billions and a bad spill can easily go above $75 million? Why did Senate Republicans, just kill a bill to increase the cap to $10 billion?
Maybe they weren’t all that worried? In the words of British Petroleum CEO, Tony Hayward, “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”
Oh well, then. That makes it all okay, doesn’t it? “No,” you say? Tough darts, Bubba. The oil and gas industry has purchased our government, just as the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries have. And that brings me to the point.
Yesterday, a voter’s guide for our state election arrived in the mail. It got me to thinking about the mid-terms and all the noise the pundits are making about incumbents being booted out of office regardless of party affiliation because “the government is broken and America is fed up.”
Fine. Let’s get rid of everyone regardless of party affiliation, even if it means reverting to a Republican majority in the House and Senate. Let’s go back to those 8 impossibly miserable, ignorant, mind numbing years of the neocon Bush/Cheney Administration.
Now there’s a really bad idea. But the oil companies would love it. Why?
“Over the past 20 years, the energy industry has pumped more than $500 million into the coffers of candidates and party committees, $334 million in the past decade, with three-fourths of it going to Republicans” –Texas on the Potamac
Here’s video of the oil flow, from CBS News-