Oil spill deja vu

Rachel Maddow has done a superlative job of pointing out the eerie deja vu that is this year’s Gulf of Mexico and Alaskan oil spills.

So what do we have here?

The stuff that did not work back then is the same stuff that hasn’t worked now. Same busted blow-out preventer, same ineffective booms, same underwater plumes, same toxic dispersant, same failed containment dome, same junk shot, same top kill. It’s all the same technology!

The Ixtoc oil spill in 1979 was in 200 feet of water, while Deepwater Horizon is in 5,000 feet of water. The only thing the oil companies have got better at in 30 years is drilling in deeper water with the same inadequate technology.

When Gerry Brownlee reassures us that only modern, proven oil drilling technology will be used here in New Zealand, exactly what is he referring to?

Hat Tip: www.interest.co.nz

11 Comments Posted

  1. Oil is used for electricity generation on a number of smaller islands (e.g. Tonga, Stewart Island, The Chatham Islands, even Antarctica) which don’t have access to reticulated gas. (Usually diesel generator sets.) Given an oil shortage, they would head to coal as gas is harder to transport and needs some significant (and therefore expensive) infrastructure which is simply uneconomical on a small scale.


  2. Thanks Trevor, I doubt any electricity generators are looking to burning oil – it’s far too expensive, gas does make (some) sense, but it would be much more efficient to use gas directly as it is reticulated and is a highly efficient energy source as it is. Such a moratorium would be part of a strategy for a fully renewable electricity generation policy, and the eventual electrification of the majority of the transport fleet. If we had a moratorium on new oil and gas exploration then allowing coal mining would obviously be absurd. The point of a moratorium is force our society to look to viable renewable opportunities instead, if we don’t do this, we can guarantee that every last drop of oil will be used, and likely every last tonne of coal too. According to James Hansen, this might be enough to make the planet just about uninhabitable for humans. We’ve got to stop poisoning the planet, it makes obvious sense to leave oil and gas not even found yet where it has been for the last fifty million years.

  3. A complete moratorium on new oil and gas exploration would be counter-productive. It would push electricity generators towards coal which is way more polluting, and impact those who can afford it least – the starving in countries dependent on cheap imported food and aid. (Fertilizer prices and bunker fuel prices would rise.)


  4. Hello,

    I wonder if this is the place to suggest that the Green Party, if it is to show some ethical and intellectual consistency, should be pressing for a moratorium on ALL new oil and gas exploration, on the basis of global warming and the urgent need to move to an entirely renewable energy strategy, and not merely be rather meekly suggesting a temporary halt to offshore exploration?

    John Monro

  5. Robert I think that Mr. Brownlee is going to have a he!! of a job convincing the people of Gisbourne that off shore drilling is a good idea.

    What more proof does one have to prove that NAT/ACT is wrong?!!!!!!!

  6. Brownlee however, has contrived to have problems before he’s even begun.
    If his efforts to mine the parks is any indication, he’ll struggle to progress his oily plans.

  7. I think John Clark summed it up in his well shared clip. There is no problem with drilling for oil before you start, the problems arise after you start.

  8. That spill and the attempts to contain it happened when I was pregnant with my first child, who is now nearly 31 years old. (When one is about to bring a child into this World such events are thought provoking and memorable.)

    Thirty years is a long time, and surely long enough for a wealthy industry to have developed reliable technology to deal with such an event … and more than enough time for the citizens of the World to ensure that the industry does so!

    My question is: what part can we play (individually and collectively) to ensure that safe technology is developed THIS time?


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