Let's roll back the clock a bit ...
Before the tragedy of Sandy Hook, before the 2013 Boston Marathon, before Chained CPI, before cutting Social Security to save it ...
In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon exploded. To paraphrase Bill Nye, The Science Guy, who is also CEO of the Planetary Society, that blowout changed the world.
Not in a good way, for the families of the 11 workers who died during the explosion. Let's take a second and remember them, may we?
Eleven crew members died during the April 20 explosion; 115 were rescued.
None of the men who died on the Deepwater Horizon worked directly for BP.
Two were employed by M-I Swaco, a division of oil field services company Schlumberger.
Nine worked for Transocean. No bodies were recovered at the time of the accident.
Not in a good way, for US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen. Though now that he's a partner in a firm connected to the Department of Homeland Security, perhaps the delay of his retirement has lost its sting.
(1). Jason Anderson, 35, of Midfield, Texas. A father of two. His wife, Shelley, said Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday. Anderson began preparing a will in February 2010 and kept it in a spiral notebook. It sank with the rig.
(2.) Aaron Dale "Bubba" Burkeen, 37, of Philadelphia, Miss. Father of two. His death at the Deepwater Horizon came on his wedding anniversary and four days before his birthday.
(3.) Donald Clark, 49, of Newellton, La. Among six workers scheduled to leave the rig on April 21, the day after the blast.
(4.) Stephen Ray Curtis, 40, of Georgetown, La.. Married father of two teenagers.
(5). Gordon Jones, 28, of Baton Rouge, La. Jones arrived on the rig the day before the explosion. He died three days before his sixth wedding anniversary and 10 minutes after talking to his pregnant wife, Michelle Jones. Their son, Max, was born three weeks later.
(6.) Roy Wyatt Kemp, 27, Jonesville, La. Married father whose daughter's birthday was 3 days before the explosion, he was among six workers scheduled to leave the rig on April 21.
(7.) Karl Kleppinger Jr., 38, Natchez, Miss. Father of one, and a Gulf War I veteran.
(8.) Keith Blair Manuel, 56, Gonzales, La. An LSU fan, Manuel had three daughters.
(9). Dewey A. Revette, 48, State Line, Miss. Married to his wife, Sherri, for 26 years when the rig exploded; among six workers scheduled to leave the rig on April 21.
(10.) Shane M. Roshto, 22, Liberty, Miss. Wife, Natalie, filed a lawsuit alleging PTSD April 21, 2010, after her husband was killed in the explosion. Roshto was among six workers set to leave the rig on April 21.
(11.) Adam Weise, 24, Yorktown, Texas. Weise drove 10 hours to Louisiana every three weeks to work on the rig. A high school football star, he spent off- time hunting and fishing. He was one of six workers scheduled to leave the rig on April 21.
Not in a good way for the people who depend on that Gulf for their livelihoods.
Cue world's smallest violin for the stockholders of this rogue company, noteworthy for its sorry attention to detail and its institutional disrespect for its workers and our world, as their liability, while still not catching up to them, does in fact nip at their profits. In a world where justice meant something, BP's punishment for its murderous chiselry on safety, on cementing, on blowout preventer maintenance, on planning and conducting a well-engineered operation from the start, would've cost it its corporate existence. In our world full of TBTF corporations, well, not so much.
The chain of events we saw afterward has had eerie echoes in every oil spill since -- and we've had, even if you only count the ones in the US, way too many. This took those of us old enough to remember back to the tragic aftermath of Ixtoc 1 and the Exxon Valdez.
What of the deep water offshore oil drilling industry? It forges on:
Yet, after a brief pause, business has not just returned to normal in the Gulf of Mexico, but been turbo-charged. There are now 39 oil rigs operating in its deep seas, about a third more than before the Deepwater disaster. Elsewhere, exploration has surged further and deeper into the oceans. Five months after Deepwater erupted, the Brazilian oil giant Petrobras achieved another superlative, the world's largest-ever share offering, which raised $67bn to fund its exploitation of the vast, deep and ultra-deep oil fields off its coast. But even this is not the region that has analysts bubbling with most excitement. Africa's west coast, from Angola to Congo to Nigeria, has the world's richest fields.But not all the changes were awful.
These contributions to the world's fuel tanks will be topped up by a list of places that reads like a brochure for adventurous travellers – Egypt, Indonesia, Equatorial Guinea, the Phillipines, India and Mauritania – as well as the UK's own fields in the deep blue off Shetland and perhaps the Falklands.
While the Deepwater plaintiffs' 340 lawyers and their opponents prepare to tackle 72m pages of evidence in a New Orleans court room, the world's reliance on oil from miles under the sea also piles up. A fifth of all offshore oil is now dredged from the depths and this is expected by the industry to rise to over half by the end of the decade and two-thirds by 2030.
At this point I hope you are wondering why the world appears content relying for oil – its economic lifeblood – on extraordinary feats of engineering performed in ever-more extreme locations on Earth. If you weren't, consider the march northwards into the Arctic, the harshest and most fragile environment on the planet, led by Norway. The reason for this calm reliance on everyday technical miracles is, unlike the Deepwater court case, devastatingly simple: it is still cheap. Despite costing between four and eight times more to pump up than onshore oil, oil from the depths remains highly profitable. Global oil prices are being driven hard by the people from Beijing to Bangalore getting behind the wheel, with the number of cars on the world's road expected to double to 1.7bn in 20 years. It is not impossible that plumbing the depths will become a little less attractive if BP, Transocean and the others emerge from their legal labyrinth with a bill of $40bn. But would oil majors really be held to account for disasters in the same way by nations whose GDP is dwarfed by the companies' wealth? I think not.
Deep water drilling is a hostage to fortune in the short term, especially in locations lacking the resources of the US to clean up and the good fortune of the balmy Gulf waters to degrade spilt oil quickly. In the long term, we will run out of space in the atmosphere for climate-warming carbon dioxide well before we run out of oil and gas. But if money is fuelling the submarine adventuring of ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron and others, money might just curb it too. The colossal global subsidies for fossil fuels – at least half a trillion dollars in 2010 – are starting to look vulnerable. The UN, G20, International Energy Agency and Barack Obama would all like to torch them, with Obama stating this month: "We need to end the subsidies for oil companies and double down on clean energy."
Lo and behold, DKos became a genuine power on the national stage. Not for electoral politics -- for the politics of life, death, energy, deception, and the oil spilling into the Gulf. The work that came out of this site, 24/7, during the Deepwater Horizon disaster ... and during the months of that awful spew into the Gulf, exacerbated by the COREXIT and the surface burning and the failure-after-failure series of fix-at-it measures (remember top kill ? remember the clathrates? remember containment? Discoverer Enterprise and Hurricane Alex?) matched, if not exceeded, the best reportage professionals could muster.
Thanks to Keith Olbermann, then at MSNBC, and to Rachel Maddow, and to our own Fishgrease and eljefebob, the knowledge and the investigative reportage that followed the oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico three years ago just kept right on keeping on - courtesy of the Gulf Watchers.
Which is the main reason for tonight's diary, from me. Three years' worth of work goes on, as the trial coverage continues.
Tonight, we remember the things we learned about Transocean and Sedco, Ixtoc I and the happy but highly inaccurate portrayals of early oilfields in popular culture, deep-water drilling, shallow-water drilling, hurricanes and ice storms, kicking wells and deadly bubbles of gas, a straw stuck into the seabed and seeping wellheads, leaking pipelines and the decades-long unholy heritage of the Santa Barbara and Exxon Valdez spills. Thanks to all the Gulf Watchers for all they do, from finding glossaries to following developments even when the headlines don't. Spills from Shell and Exxon continue; Thunder Horse remains in production, and drilling in the Macondo lease goes on. So does the fight to stop the tar sands. So do the Gulf Watchers.
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