web analytics

The oil mess

Written By: - Date published: 8:53 am, May 7th, 2010 - 13 comments
Categories: Environment, International - Tags: , ,

We’re in the middle of another slowly unfolding oil disaster. On April 20 the “Deepwater Horizon”, a British Petroleum oil rig, exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and starting what is fast becoming the the largest oil spill in history.

This oil spill ‘the bad one’ — recipe for disaster

WASHINGTON What makes an oil spill really bad? Most of the ingredients for it are now blending in the Gulf of Mexico.

Experts tick off the essentials: A relentless flow of oil from under the sea; a type of crude that mixes easily with water; a resultant gooey mixture that is hard to burn and even harder to clean; water that’s home to vulnerable spawning grounds for new life; and a coastline with difficult-to-scrub marshlands. Gulf Coast experts have always talked about “the potential for a bad one,” said Wes Tunnell, coastal ecology and oil spill expert at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. “And this is the bad one. This is just a biggie that finally happened.”

Sierra Club: “Oil spill is America’s Chernobyl”

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – Louie Miller with the Sierra Club said, “Unfortunately, the genie is out of the bottle with this oil spill, and I don’t think I’m overstating the case by saying this is America’s Chernobyl.”

Drill, Baby…Oops!

“The news from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is not good. If the NOAA estimates are right about the size of the spill it could dwarf Exxon Valdez”

I was going to try and summarise the sequence of events since the explosion, but the Wikipedia page is great, so go read that instead. Containment and early attempts at cutting off the leak (a massively difficult task) have failed, and last ditch measures are about to be tried. (Oh – and check out the NZ connection.)

This is an environmental catastrophe of course. It will also be considered by most to be an economic disaster both caused by and exacerbating peak oil.

It is because of oil depletion the limits of technology were stretched to drill in deep water in the first place – Deepwater Horizon well was the deepest in history. This disaster is going to inhibit new exploration and development (“Gulf spill spells uncertainty for new drilling“, “Deepwater Horizon oil spill sparks calls for $10bn levy on BP and drilling ban“). This will impact on the peak oil timeline. Significant supply shortfalls were already due by 2015 according to American military estimates, the crunch just got a bit closer.

But there could be a longer term upside. If only the world could use this event to trigger a serious consideration of a post-oil future. Why wait until we have wrung the last drop of oil from the screaming planet? Why wait until we run out of time completely? Why leave ourselves open to even more disasters as ever more aggressive extraction techniques have to be deployed? Start the change now! Start the move to renewable energy, reduced CO2 emissions and sustainable living now. Let some good come of this disaster.

13 comments on “The oil mess ”

  1. Living the Dream!! 1

    Yes the people should be sreaming at this lack lustre government here to reinstate the Labour-Progressive policies which were moving us toward greater sustainability. Exampled with the percentage of biofuel which was going into petrol at the pump. This move was developing our internal biofuel industry moving away from fossil fuel dependency, but those small minded short term, limited capacity Tories axed it.

  2. ghostwhowalksnz 2

    One of the interesting bits is that there have now been two explosions in these very deep water drilling operations, this one in the Gulf of Mexico and a few years ago the Montara well in the Timor sea north of Australia.
    As these things are contracted out to various companies , but there was one common factor , both times the explosions occurred during operations by Halliburton on the leased rig.

    • ianmac 2.1

      Ah. I knew Halliburtons were involved. You would wonder that they were re-employed. Hope Halliburtons are not involved around NZ?

  3. Agreed Rob and the link between peak oil, the desperation to get oil from more and more difficult places and the increasing potential for disaster is clearly made out.

    As individuals we should work out what would happen if we could halve our CO2 output by, for instance, driving half as much as we do now and reducing heating of our home.

    It is actually not that difficult but strong leadership is required.

    I am not holding my breath.

  4. Bored 4

    An American Chernobyl ..I put this on Open Mike earlier as the article title seemed to sum up the severity of the event.


    As fuel sources run out in easy to get places we can expect more desparation to get at what is left. Given that NACT want to despoil our National Parks what hope do we have that this administration could regualte and police our local offshore resources to prevent a disaster of this nature?

    • Bored 6.1

      Read this earlier, its bloody interesting what can be done. Cautious optimism here, the trends for the rest of the world especially China and India would be instructive.

    • Bright Red 6.2

      Oil use declines due to two factors 1) reduced economic output 2) increased efficiency

      So, the fact that emissions have fallen faster than the GDP isn’t surprising, it’s to be expected. Just as one will expect them to rise, but slower than GDP, during a period of economic growth.

      US and EU usage trends aren’t really important now, they’re dwarfed by the growth that’s happening in Asia.

  5. Living the Dream!! 7

    Responding to Killinginthenameof.
    We were manufacturing biofuels in NZ out of a speific species of willow as well as biomass and were the world leader in biofuel from algae.
    It is egrecious and uninformed to say the left does not support bio fuel as it starves the third world of food.
    The left in NZ was in support of other ways of making biofuel thus avoiding food crops.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Worsening housing crisis must prompt action
    A growing public housing waiting list and continued increase of house prices must be urgently addressed by Government, Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson said today. ...
    10 hours ago
  • Twenty highlights of 2020
    As we welcome in the new year, our focus is on continuing to keep New Zealanders safe and moving forward with our economic recovery. There’s a lot to get on with, but before we say a final goodbye to 2020, here’s a quick look back at some of the milestones ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Jobs for Nature funding will create training and employment opportunities
    A major investment to tackle wilding pines in Mt Richmond will create jobs and help protect the area’s unique ecosystems, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says. The Mt Richmond Forest Park has unique ecosystems developed on mineral-rich geology, including taonga plant species found nowhere else in the country. “These special plant ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Pre-departure testing extended to all passengers to New Zealand
    To further protect New Zealand from COVID-19, the Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59pm (NZT) on Monday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Bay Cadets learn skills to protect environment
    Bay Conservation Cadets launched with first intake Supported with $3.5 million grant Part of $1.245b Jobs for Nature programme to accelerate recover from Covid Cadets will learn skills to protect and enhance environment Environment Minister David Parker today welcomed the first intake of cadets at the launch of the Bay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Cook Islanders to resume travel to New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown have announced passengers from the Cook Islands can resume quarantine-free travel into New Zealand from 21 January, enabling access to essential services such as health. “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ COVID ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Supporting communities and landowners to grow employment opportunities
    Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects, Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan has announced. It is estimated some 400-plus jobs will be created with employment opportunities in ecology, restoration, trapping, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Border exception for some returning international tertiary students
    The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students, degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception will allow students to return to New Zealand in stages from April 2021. “Our top priority continues ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Tiwai deal gives time for managed transition
    Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New member for APEC Business Advisory Council
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). The leader of each APEC economy appoints three private sector representatives to ABAC. ABAC provides advice to leaders annually on business priorities. “ABAC helps ensure that APEC’s work programme is informed by business community perspectives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt’s careful economic management recognised
    The Government’s prudent fiscal management and strong policy programme in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic have been acknowledged by the credit rating agency Fitch. Fitch has today affirmed New Zealand’s local currency rating at AA+ with a stable outlook and foreign currency rating at AA with a positive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Additional actions to keep COVID-19 out of NZ
    The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • 19 projects will clean up and protect waterways
    $36 million of Government funding alongside councils and others for 19 projects Investment will clean up and protect waterways and create local jobs Boots on the ground expected in Q2 of 2021 Funding part of the Jobs for Nature policy package A package of 19 projects will help clean up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand Government acknowledges 175th anniversary of Battle of Ruapekapeka
    The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Ruapekapeka represents an opportunity for all New Zealanders to reflect on the role these conflicts have had in creating our modern nation, says Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan. “The Battle at Te Ruapekapeka Pā, which took ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Better care for babies with tongue-tie
    Babies born with tongue-tie will be assessed and treated consistently under new guidelines released by the Ministry of Health, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. Around 5% to 10% of babies are born with a tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia, in New Zealand each year. At least half can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison over
    The prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison is over, with all remaining prisoners now safely and securely detained, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says. The majority of those involved in the event are members of the Mongols and Comancheros. Five of the men are deportees from Australia, with three subject to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Pre-departure COVID-19 test for travellers from the UK and the US from 15 January
    Travellers from the United Kingdom or the United States bound for New Zealand will be required to get a negative test result for COVID-19 before departing, and work is underway to extend the requirement to other long haul flights to New Zealand, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. “The new PCR test requirement, foreshadowed last ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago