Wednesday, May 26, 2010
The End of Ultra-Deep Water Oil Production
The BP Horizon explosion and subsequent blowout in the Gulf of Mexico means the end of Ultra-Deep water Oil production - at least near the coasts of any of the industrialized, liberal democracies.
That is, to my mind, a given.
Now, what if TPTB - BP, The Coast Guard, the Military, the Federal Government et al - CANNOT shut the thing in? WHAT IF? I am not an environmental scientist, but it would seem to me that the GOM would be a biological dead-zone. It would also seem to me that the Oil industry (the ONLY industry in that region when you get right down to it... money comes into that industry and is then circulated through everybody else down wind) in that part of the country would take a significant hit along with all of the supporting cast around it.
(The level of economic ignorance displayed by the folks trying to take political advantage of this is fairly impressive. They began by publicly worrying about the fisherman and the restaurants... absent the oil industry there would be no fisherman nor restaurants as there would not be customer for thousands of miles for either group... the region would be as poor as Afghanistan... to say nothing of the fact that without the Oil production from the GOM the fuel for autos and transport fuel would be considerably less available for ALL of the U.S. It would be awfully cold this winter, too, as over 15% of U.S. Nat Gas production comes out of the Gulf.)
What would it mean to have 7 to 10 million gallons pouring into the Gulf every month, month in and month out, for the next several (or many) years? What if "Top Kill, Siphons, Top Hat's, relief wells, bombs, etc..." don't work? They might... but what if they do not?
Aside from the ecological disaster the other unknown consequences are fairly staggering when you think about them. I won't bore you... you don't need my help to think some bad things up.
I never thought deep water drilling was a terribly good idea. The simple fact is that the ultimately recovered Oil from these sights really was never worth the price of admission... all in I don't think deep water would supply more than 10 years worth of current world Oil consumption. Any rational risk/reward or cost/benefit analysis would come up short on that one.
The question is what are the political ramifications of this. Forget watching the candidates and office holders beat each other over the head with this... what will the reaction be from the "consumer" and/or the "voter"? Will all of this be forgotten when gasoline is $8 per gallon? Even if the GOM is a giant dead zone that smells like northern New Jersey did when I was a kid? Really? (BTW... Jersey does not smell anything like it used to... but back in the 60's and 70's it was pretty bad...)
Whatever the political reaction from the crew currently in power (in both parties) you can be sure it will NOT be a call for any shared sacrifice or a rational energy policy.... it will be a call to affix blame (this is NOT this administrations fault, nor GWB's, or Clinton's... every one of us that drives a car or drinks bottled water is in on this caper).
This is a hard one to put one's mind around... I need to noodle this a bit longer.