Monday, 24 May 2010

Playing dirty

The saga of the Gulf of Mexico continues. Perhaps this is a real demonstration of a Mexican Stand Off!
POTUS is getting more and more wound up at what he sees as the weakness of BP in dealing with the matter. He does not have any oil background so may lack the sort of approach needed to deal with the 'good ole boys' that Dubya will have learned at his father's knee. I only had about six years with a US oil company operating in the North Sea before someone made me a better offer but even in that time I learned that oil men are a separate breed. They come in two main flavours. The extremely well dressed, suave and polished sort and the rougher version who may have spent his time on the dirty and dangerous task of actually finding and gathering the black stuff. I found a sure way of classifying these colleagues - the man whose heart and soul was oil wore cowboy boots; even with his Savile Row suiting.
The requirement to push technology out to the outer rim of working blind at great depths engendered a spirit that was very much 'Can Do'. The niceties of the law were not of great consequence - if oil was found, one was almost a hero. The sums of money involved were enormous - much of it at high risk of being a total waste or irrecoverable loss. From my second-row seat, it seemed we had two groups. Those who got the oil out of the ground and those who found the money for them and kept a too officious Government at bay.
BP is in a good position right now. The markets are hitting them but that is just a gnat bite. They certainly have not deteriorated as fast as the cowboy banks did. When - and not if - it all comes down to the post mortem they will be in a position to say that they did all they could - who else has the expertise to gainsay them? The remainder of the industry will work on the basis that dog does not eat dog.
Obama is loud in his denunciations and threats - much like a drunk in a police cell. He is described as a lawyer but I seem to find him as a professor of law which is not the same thing when it comes to knowing what will work in a court and what will not fly.
The flood of condemnation and invective around BP is ultimately to their good. When the whole nation is against them, how can there be a fair an unbiased venue for any hearings or for trial should one result. Some of the protestations are so wild and the offered methods of dealing with the problem so Heath Robinson that they will be rich fodder for any BP advocate to thrown at some of the better evidence.
We are now hearing of suggestions that BP may be shoved aside and others invited to have a go. For sure, few who may have the same sort of expertise and equipment as BP will want to accept the chalice with so much dirt around the rim and step into what could turn out to be BP II - The Sequel. That leaves some Government agency that has engineers. The Armed Forces are fully engaged and more besides. This is not a task for the National Guard!
In the meantime, the oil continues to flow. A true example of what is meant by the phrase 24/7. It could be that we are already at the stage where massive loss is guaranteed - the killer lake is out there and is merely waiting for some trick of the wind to see where it desolates first. There is what seems to be a reliable article on the effects of such an oil spill. It contains a dread forecast: Florida's coastal ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to oil. Florida's seagrass beds, mangroves, and coral reefs provide shelter, habitat and breeding grounds for fish, shellfish, bivalves and many other species. If the oil impacts these habitats, not only will the seagrass, mangroves or coral reefs be impacted, but all of the other species that reside or depend on these ecosystems will also be impacted. According to research previously carried out on an oil spill in Panama, it was predicted that although seagrass beds may recover in a period of 1-2 years, mangrove ecosystems may take up to 50 years to recover, and coral reefs may take as long as 100 years or more to fully recover. Marine birds and sea turtles are two other types of marine species that can be heavily impacted by oil spills. So, the outcome is already desperate; it is only a matter of degree now.
Mankind has achieved much since that Big Bang or since crawling out of antediluvian slime - as your religion see it. Moon rockets, the creation of life itself without any of that nasty coupling, arts and sciences but it takes something such as this to realise just what a tiny dot we are in the scheme of things organised by whoever may be in charge of us all. I think God may really be a woman and what we ere seeing is the onset of her menopause. Those who have shared a home with a 'lady of a certain age' will know just how bad that can get.

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