Friday, September 3, 2010

Deja Vu? Oh, Yes, Said They....

Deepwater Horizon was a fluke. Off shore drilling is sooooo verrrry, verrrrrry safe....

A Mariner Energy oil rig, the Vermillion Block 380, burns 80 miles south of the Louisiana coast Thursday. The fire has since been put out.

The Mariner Energy rig Vermillion 380 exploded yesterday off the coast of Louisiana. There was all this talk about how there was no spill and yet I see in the fairly reliable Bloomberg this morning that they were noting a mile long 100 feet wide sheen on the water. Don't know about you but I'm thinking that maybe some oil spilled. Because really, water doesn't have a sheen to it. (I know this for a fact because I'm a PhD chemist. Definitely. Not. Sheen-y)  

“This incident will increase pressure on the federal government to prolong the moratorium,” said Gianna Bern, president of Brookshire Advisory & Research Inc., a former BP crude oil trader whose Flossmoor, Illinois, firm provides risk-management advice to oil producers. ( from the Bloomberg article)

Well, ya think? (Frankly, I'm slightly pessimistic Gianna... I really don't know what it will take to get a lasting moratorium on offshore drilling in this country.) About the only good thing here is that the Vermillion 380 stands in only 400 feet of water.

And on the note of thinking of how the very last thing that Louisiana needs is more oil in offshore waters, let me direct readers to Hurricane Creeper's most recent blog post, in which it looks like oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill is working its way inland, following evidence of a fish kill in the Choctawhachee Bay. Evidence of oil working its way into the bay was first reported last Thursday by the Walton Sun. You can check out the Destin Log photogallery. Choctawhachee Bay is right near Destin, which had some of those pristine beaches you may remember from some of my earlier blog posts. Destin's beaches have remained open and unblemished according to the city's webpage. Although I do recall seeing video back in June of tar balls washing up on a Destin beach and a child getting one stuck on her foot. But the Destin webpage says it all swell there. Seafood is safe to eat. 

All so safe. Just like offshore drilling.

After looking at Jennie Hobbs's photos, I'm thinking I'll be skipping it, thank you.

I want my Nissan Leaf. Now please.

© Bright Nepenthe, 2010


  1. One more reason to ban offshore drilling...

    Wasn't Deepwater cataclysmic enough???

  2. Dennis, Dude, the atheism post is two down, okay? Quo Vadis?

  3. Thanks for this, chilling news...

    I am not the brightest when it comes to science – tho’ off the top of my head was able to answer the question ‘How many carbon atoms are there in three molecules of glucose?’ posed on a TV quiz the other day, correctly (the answer, as you will know better than I, is 18).

    I was listening to ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ last week (a radio program on one of the BBC’s more serious radio stations – see about the political and economic meltdown that is predicted (and already happening) in Yemen. The state is running out of oil and has little else in the way of wealth producing industry that can maintain the country’s economy. Britain has maintained some links with the state and provides aid (it was, like much of the Middle East once part of the British Empire – and like much of the Middle East, many of its problems can be traced back to British and French interference in the politics, economics and culture of the region). I was wondering if anyone has thought about working with some of these nations with failing economies and yet one natural resource in plentiful supply – that is the sun. At present, Spain is aiming to provide up to 12% of its electricity from sun light (see and it does not seem unreasonable that Yemen and many other states – particularly those with lots of desert – could construct solar power stations for both domestic consumption and to electrolyse hydrogen from sea water and sell the hydrogen as fuel and in time replace our reliance on oil.

    You’re more likely to know if this is feasible than I... But when you think of how much money BP and its partners are going to pay out in compensation in addition to what they will have spent in exploration, I get help but think with a little business and political will, that such an idea as mine could, in part at least, reduce our reliance on oil and considerably lessen CO2 emissions.

    Whatever, as you note at the end of your post, we need to change the way we live. When I lived in London – one of the few places in the UK where you really DON’T need a car - I used to walk passed houses with up to five cars in the drive way. Why does any household, in a city with a comprehensive and relatively inexpensive transport system, need five cars? I moved to London in 1996 and got rid of my car a few years later because from Mon-Fri it sat on my drive doing nothing. Even now I have moved to a town on the outskirts of London, I still don’t have a car. I hire one when going on holiday or for special needs, but we manage fine without one. It is matter of organisation (though I admit if I had small children, I’d probably have a car!).

    There is no such thing as ‘clean’ oil extraction and there is always a price to pay. Odd so much fuss and demand for restitution has been made concerning BP’s problems and the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico. In the waters around Nigeria British, American and many other oil companies have been polluting for years, in addition to the loss of life of personnel – there’s been little clean up and no compensation. But that wasn’t in America’s backyard. So in a weird way I am glad the horrors of oil production, particularly its production at sea, have brought home to the nation that consumes the greatest proportion of oil in the world just what the true costs of oil extraction can run to. Perhaps, just perhaps, some people will take on board that oil’s a crude and messy way of getting energy.

    Again, thanks for this.


  4. S.

    Thanks for your comments. I love your thoughts. Yemen is a serious concern because if their economy falters they are very vulnerable.

    Actually Spain is also one of the largest producers of wind energy in the world. (See here).

    Italy is soon going to have the world’s largest solar power plant.

    Ironically, Italy and Spain are two of the highest producers of CO2 emissions in Europe.

    Don’t even get me started on hydrogen. I will disabuse you of your every thought on that subject. Electrolysis of water consumed as much, or in some cases more electricity than the value of the hydrogen that you would harvest. Then there’s the whole fact that you’ll have to liquefy (requiring cryogenic containment) and how explosive it would be if even ambient heating occurred. Plus liquid hydrogen has about a 1-2% volume loss daily. Even more if you don’t have optimal conditions.

    It’s a terrible faux solution to energy problems.

    Better to stick with solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and even nuclear energy.

    I’ll be posting about my Leaf when I get it, hopefully in December, according to what Nissan keeps telling me.

  5. Thanks for putting me straight. It takes energy to make energy, that is what I was forgetting. It also uses a lot of energy to make energy into a useable form (or in the case of nuclear - safe form).

    The other day I was in the local store deciding what to buy for mine and my partner's evening meal (or to put it into the northern English dialect my partner and I speak at home 'What to have for us teas') when I picked up something and then quickly put it back on the shelf. A shop assistant nearby asked why I put the item back and I noted that it was rather high in calories. She looked at me and said that surely I didn't need to worry about calories. I pointed out I'd just swam a mile, in part to keep my waist line as trim as middle age allows (also because of joint and blood pressure problems - but didn't bore her that!). But I also noted that not having a car also keeps me slim as I walk everywhere.

    Perhaps this is something that might promote less reliance on cars - though I doubt it. Here in the UK we're following the US trend of getting fatter and fatter. My partner is very slim, although, like me, over 40, and many stores no longer stock his waist size in tousers, as so few are sold as the UK's average waist size increases year on year.

    So you reckon I shouldn't write to the Yemini Government suggesting Solar Power will be the answer to all their problems? I didn't think so really, but your insight has clarified this!

    It's 3am here in the UK and I am not in bed yet. Must get on. I've not got my PhD yet - half way through and tomorrow I am at the British Library ploughing through 19th and 20th century religious tracts! On Sunday, as part of my primary research, I am attending the worship sessions of one of charismatic Christian organisation I am researching. What fun - give me a test tube any day.

    Thanks again for returning me to ground with a necessary but useful 'bump'


  6. S., Yemen could still probably benefit from solar energy if they need it but to me the real issue would be how to float their economy overall. They have large reserves of natural gas from what I recall.

    My real problem with Yemen is their astoundingly awful record on human rights, and especially women and children's rights, under Sharia and tribal law. You can search my blog for Nujood Ali (box on the right) and see what I mean.

    Have a good weekend! Good studies. :)