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82 responses to “Tar sands, Obama and oil spills”

  1. paul walter

    Snap!
    Just come to much the same conclusion earlier, thinking about Obama in relation the oil spill- to him what the GFM was for the Republicans a few years ago.
    Obama keeps making funny deals with business. First the GFM and Wall st bailout Schmoozed though, then with the zionist lobby for keeping mum about Israel; now the story about lobbying for deep offshore drilling;pressure apparently caved into by the president, despite warnings from ecologists and other scientists about its risk.
    Is that Dorian Gray, starting to appear in the painting?

  2. paul walter

    Snap!
    Just come to much the same conclusion earlier, thinking about Obama in relation the oil spill- to him what the GFM was for the Republicans a few years ago.
    Obama keeps making funny deals with business. First the GFM and Wall st bailout Schmoozed though, then with the zionist lobby for keeping mum about Israel; now the story about lobbying for deep offshore drilling;pressure apparently caved into by the president, despite warnings from ecologists and other scientists about its risk.
    Is that Dorian Gray, starting to appear in the painting?

  3. Zorronsky

    Good work Brian. On the Obama front I think that the problems he is facing and has faced for all of his short period in office are mind boggling. The comparisons with Bush make me laugh. Bush created problems, a far easier task than trying to mend the damage. Start wars, give free rein to greed and ignorance and giggle your way into irrelevant retirement as opposed to attempting to stem the horrible and world threatening consequences. I thought Ambassador Bleich tried to lay out just how immense the job is for the POTUS with some degree of humility and nervous humour at the Press Club. http://photos.state.gov/libraries/adelaide/171311/speeches/20100616.pdf Like the PM there are huge forces at work against him succeeding.
    Humanity it seems still has lessons to learn.

  4. Zorronsky

    Good work Brian. On the Obama front I think that the problems he is facing and has faced for all of his short period in office are mind boggling. The comparisons with Bush make me laugh. Bush created problems, a far easier task than trying to mend the damage. Start wars, give free rein to greed and ignorance and giggle your way into irrelevant retirement as opposed to attempting to stem the horrible and world threatening consequences. I thought Ambassador Bleich tried to lay out just how immense the job is for the POTUS with some degree of humility and nervous humour at the Press Club. http://photos.state.gov/libraries/adelaide/171311/speeches/20100616.pdf Like the PM there are huge forces at work against him succeeding.
    Humanity it seems still has lessons to learn.

  5. Brian

    Thanks, Zorronsky. I’ve just inserted Obama into the title. It started out as a post about tar sands and grew a bit from there.

    The US ambassador here the other day said Obama wouldn’t really turn his mind to climate change until after the mid-term elections, so I still have hope, but the record so far has been ordinary.

  6. Brian

    Thanks, Zorronsky. I’ve just inserted Obama into the title. It started out as a post about tar sands and grew a bit from there.

    The US ambassador here the other day said Obama wouldn’t really turn his mind to climate change until after the mid-term elections, so I still have hope, but the record so far has been ordinary.

  7. Huggybunny

    Yerp, about 2 tonnes of sand produce one barrel of oil, after lots of processing. This is desperation stuff, whatever happened to “peak oil”?
    We have passed it that’s what. They have big resources of gunk sand in Utah and Venezuela. More Mordor. Hey,sudden brainstorm, if nukes are so cheap and safe how come we don’t have nuclear powered vehicles?
    Huggy

  8. Huggybunny

    Yerp, about 2 tonnes of sand produce one barrel of oil, after lots of processing. This is desperation stuff, whatever happened to “peak oil”?
    We have passed it that’s what. They have big resources of gunk sand in Utah and Venezuela. More Mordor. Hey,sudden brainstorm, if nukes are so cheap and safe how come we don’t have nuclear powered vehicles?
    Huggy

  9. Fran Barlow

    HB asked:

    if nukes are so cheap and safe how come we don’t have nuclear powered vehicles?

    Because it would be a lot simpler and cheaper to use nuclear to produce the power for electric vehicles which could be mass produced. Having multiple iterations of nuclear powered vehicles would be very expensive and regulating a relatively small number of NPPs fairly simple.

  10. Fran Barlow

    HB asked:

    if nukes are so cheap and safe how come we don’t have nuclear powered vehicles?

    Because it would be a lot simpler and cheaper to use nuclear to produce the power for electric vehicles which could be mass produced. Having multiple iterations of nuclear powered vehicles would be very expensive and regulating a relatively small number of NPPs fairly simple.

  11. Brian

    Huggy, there is a brief entry in the latest New Scientist with a Chatham House forecast that oil is going to hit $200 a barrel within two years.

    The other night I heard via NewsRadio and the Beeb that Brazil will almost certainly go for the oil off their coast 6km down.

    The Climate Progress link above suggests that tar sands can only operate within a narrow cost band:

    “Added together,” Lubber concluded, “these wider-ranging challenges will make oil sands production increasingly risky in the years ahead…. (G)lobal oil prices will need to remain high – possibly approaching $100 a barrel – to justify the planed $120 billion expansion in the oil sands region in the next decade. Oil sands producers must also be mindful that if global oil prices get too high, above $120-$150 a barrel, it will likely reduce global oil demand and shift markets in favor of alternative fuels. Bottom line: oil sand producers are operating in a narrowing window of profitability.”

    With a bit of luck they’ll all go broke.

  12. Brian

    Huggy, there is a brief entry in the latest New Scientist with a Chatham House forecast that oil is going to hit $200 a barrel within two years.

    The other night I heard via NewsRadio and the Beeb that Brazil will almost certainly go for the oil off their coast 6km down.

    The Climate Progress link above suggests that tar sands can only operate within a narrow cost band:

    “Added together,” Lubber concluded, “these wider-ranging challenges will make oil sands production increasingly risky in the years ahead…. (G)lobal oil prices will need to remain high – possibly approaching $100 a barrel – to justify the planed $120 billion expansion in the oil sands region in the next decade. Oil sands producers must also be mindful that if global oil prices get too high, above $120-$150 a barrel, it will likely reduce global oil demand and shift markets in favor of alternative fuels. Bottom line: oil sand producers are operating in a narrowing window of profitability.”

    With a bit of luck they’ll all go broke.

  13. Fran Barlow

    The trouble with blaming Obama is that unlike here, where the leader has a fair bit of say over the troops, Obama isn’t really leader of the Democrats. He’s more of a figurehead for “the nation” that happens to be a Democrat and who is thus supported primarily by Democrats.

    He has a senate in which there are maybe 48 votes for the kinds of policies he might actually like to propose (i.e. the other 12 Democrats are going to either oppose him because they too are in the pockets of the fossil fuel lobby or oil interests directly, or are going to demand an enormously embarrassing porkbarrell for their state).

    I don’t wish to give Obama a free pass — his desire for bipartisanship and to appear “moderate” and “consultative” when he was still in his honeymoon period was foolhardy and is substantially responsible for the much trickier position he is in now. He really ought to have run hard against the Repugs from November 6 2008 dumping the responsibility for all that was wrong with America entirely into their laps so as to free himself to take a new course.

    Yesterday’s rather anodyne Oval Office effort was yet another instantiation of the overheads of that misstep. It’s a damned shame, because he seems to be a man of considerable intellectual and personal acumen who seems to have a genuine regard for human welfare. That this is where we are really a comment on the devastating flaws in the structure of mainstream politics.

  14. Fran Barlow

    The trouble with blaming Obama is that unlike here, where the leader has a fair bit of say over the troops, Obama isn’t really leader of the Democrats. He’s more of a figurehead for “the nation” that happens to be a Democrat and who is thus supported primarily by Democrats.

    He has a senate in which there are maybe 48 votes for the kinds of policies he might actually like to propose (i.e. the other 12 Democrats are going to either oppose him because they too are in the pockets of the fossil fuel lobby or oil interests directly, or are going to demand an enormously embarrassing porkbarrell for their state).

    I don’t wish to give Obama a free pass — his desire for bipartisanship and to appear “moderate” and “consultative” when he was still in his honeymoon period was foolhardy and is substantially responsible for the much trickier position he is in now. He really ought to have run hard against the Repugs from November 6 2008 dumping the responsibility for all that was wrong with America entirely into their laps so as to free himself to take a new course.

    Yesterday’s rather anodyne Oval Office effort was yet another instantiation of the overheads of that misstep. It’s a damned shame, because he seems to be a man of considerable intellectual and personal acumen who seems to have a genuine regard for human welfare. That this is where we are really a comment on the devastating flaws in the structure of mainstream politics.

  15. Bill

    The main reason Venus is hot is that the atmosphere is almost entirely CO2, compared to about 0.039% currently on Earth. To reach Venusian levels we would obviously have to burn all the fossil fuel on Earth hundreds of times over. Even when Earth’s CO2 was more than 10 times as high as it is now, nothing remotely Venusian happened. Incidentally, Venus is also one third closer to the Sun.

    [Ridiculous comment about James Hansen removed - Admin]

  16. Bill

    The main reason Venus is hot is that the atmosphere is almost entirely CO2, compared to about 0.039% currently on Earth. To reach Venusian levels we would obviously have to burn all the fossil fuel on Earth hundreds of times over. Even when Earth’s CO2 was more than 10 times as high as it is now, nothing remotely Venusian happened. Incidentally, Venus is also one third closer to the Sun.

    [Ridiculous comment about James Hansen removed - Admin]

  17. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    It sounds like nobody will be in control of the oil spill in the Gulf. Not BP, not Halliburton, not Obama – nobody. According to the Oil Drum, the well appears to be ‘compromised “down hole”‘ – “a fully wide open well bore directly to the oil deposit”. I might as well quote the key parts of the article; he says it better than I could.

    It means they will never cap the gusher after the wellhead. They cannot…the more they try and restrict the oil gushing out the bop?…the more it will transfer to the leaks below. Just like a leaky garden hose with a nozzle on it. When you open up the nozzle?…it doesn’t leak so bad, you close the nozzle?…it leaks real bad, same dynamics. It is why they sawed the riser off…or tried to anyway…but they clipped it off, to relieve pressure on the leaks “down hole”. I’m sure there was a bit of panic time after they crimp/pinched off the large riser pipe and the Diamond wire saw got stuck and failed…because that crimp diverted pressure and flow to the rupture down below.

    …after that, it goes into the realm of “the worst things you can think of” The well may come completely apart as the inner liners fail. There is still a very long drill string in the well, that could literally come flying out…as I said…all the worst things you can think of are a possibility, but the very least damaging outcome as bad as it is, is that we are stuck with a wide open gusher blowing out 150,000 barrels a day of raw oil or more. There isn’t any “cap dome” or any other suck fixer device on earth that exists or could be built that will stop it from gushing out and doing more and more damage to the gulf. While at the same time also doing more damage to the well, making the chance of halting it with a kill from the bottom up less and less likely to work, which as it stands now?….is the only real chance we have left to stop it all.

    It’s a race now…a race to drill the relief wells and take our last chance at killing this monster before the whole weakened, wore out, blown out, leaking and failing system gives up it’s last gasp in a horrific crescendo.

    We are not even 2 months into it, barely half way by even optimistic estimates. The damage done by the leaked oil now is virtually immeasurable already and it will not get better, it can only get worse. No matter how much they can collect, there will still be thousands and thousands of gallons leaking out every minute, every hour of every day. We have 2 months left before the relief wells are even near in position and set up to take a kill shot and that is being optimistic as I said.

  18. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    It sounds like nobody will be in control of the oil spill in the Gulf. Not BP, not Halliburton, not Obama – nobody. According to the Oil Drum, the well appears to be ‘compromised “down hole”‘ – “a fully wide open well bore directly to the oil deposit”. I might as well quote the key parts of the article; he says it better than I could.

    It means they will never cap the gusher after the wellhead. They cannot…the more they try and restrict the oil gushing out the bop?…the more it will transfer to the leaks below. Just like a leaky garden hose with a nozzle on it. When you open up the nozzle?…it doesn’t leak so bad, you close the nozzle?…it leaks real bad, same dynamics. It is why they sawed the riser off…or tried to anyway…but they clipped it off, to relieve pressure on the leaks “down hole”. I’m sure there was a bit of panic time after they crimp/pinched off the large riser pipe and the Diamond wire saw got stuck and failed…because that crimp diverted pressure and flow to the rupture down below.

    …after that, it goes into the realm of “the worst things you can think of” The well may come completely apart as the inner liners fail. There is still a very long drill string in the well, that could literally come flying out…as I said…all the worst things you can think of are a possibility, but the very least damaging outcome as bad as it is, is that we are stuck with a wide open gusher blowing out 150,000 barrels a day of raw oil or more. There isn’t any “cap dome” or any other suck fixer device on earth that exists or could be built that will stop it from gushing out and doing more and more damage to the gulf. While at the same time also doing more damage to the well, making the chance of halting it with a kill from the bottom up less and less likely to work, which as it stands now?….is the only real chance we have left to stop it all.

    It’s a race now…a race to drill the relief wells and take our last chance at killing this monster before the whole weakened, wore out, blown out, leaking and failing system gives up it’s last gasp in a horrific crescendo.

    We are not even 2 months into it, barely half way by even optimistic estimates. The damage done by the leaked oil now is virtually immeasurable already and it will not get better, it can only get worse. No matter how much they can collect, there will still be thousands and thousands of gallons leaking out every minute, every hour of every day. We have 2 months left before the relief wells are even near in position and set up to take a kill shot and that is being optimistic as I said.

  19. Zorronsky

    I suppose the only positive thing to come out of all of this is the demolition of stupidities like a 75 million$ cap on liabilities for conservation damage that the US hid behind for years. Another shield has been the global player being immune from individual countries seeking compensation if that country wasn’t strong enough to demand adequate recompense. All in all tho’ you wouldn’t wish this on your worst enemy.

  20. Zorronsky

    I suppose the only positive thing to come out of all of this is the demolition of stupidities like a 75 million$ cap on liabilities for conservation damage that the US hid behind for years. Another shield has been the global player being immune from individual countries seeking compensation if that country wasn’t strong enough to demand adequate recompense. All in all tho’ you wouldn’t wish this on your worst enemy.

  21. Ron

    “The trouble with blaming Obama is that unlike here, where the leader has a fair bit of say over the troops, Obama isn’t really leader of the Democrats. He’s more of a figurehead for “the nation…””

    Then dont hav gall to ever criticise George Bush either on any non FA matter

    Whereas POTUS’s do weild great power domesticaly , and Obama on CC is patthetic ,
    offering at Coppenhaggen only a miserable 3% co2 cut on US 1990 levels
    vs IPPPC’s recomended 25% off 119990 levels

    Even when faced with such abov undefendable facts of Obama’s CC actions , those who believed his pretty ( but nuanced) words remain blinkered , and creaqte lame “excuses” of oh he is only a ‘figurehead’

    Brian’s summary is accurate
    Had people actualy read his detailed WRITTEN CC polisy as a Candidate , we would know for a fact it specifcaly does NOT suport ratification of Kyoto , nor indeed a Kyoto mark 11 post 2012 ..whereas Edwards and Clintons both specificaly suported both

    With Obama’s history of little CC comitment I see little prospect of a World binding CC Agreement (incl some leeway for Developing Nations) , without which there will be no co2 rediuctions and anything oz does will be ireleveant

    best hopes lies in science…technologyes …Carbon capture , electric cars…fision nuclear , because R E needs a World price on Carbon

  22. Ron

    “The trouble with blaming Obama is that unlike here, where the leader has a fair bit of say over the troops, Obama isn’t really leader of the Democrats. He’s more of a figurehead for “the nation…””

    Then dont hav gall to ever criticise George Bush either on any non FA matter

    Whereas POTUS’s do weild great power domesticaly , and Obama on CC is patthetic ,
    offering at Coppenhaggen only a miserable 3% co2 cut on US 1990 levels
    vs IPPPC’s recomended 25% off 119990 levels

    Even when faced with such abov undefendable facts of Obama’s CC actions , those who believed his pretty ( but nuanced) words remain blinkered , and creaqte lame “excuses” of oh he is only a ‘figurehead’

    Brian’s summary is accurate
    Had people actualy read his detailed WRITTEN CC polisy as a Candidate , we would know for a fact it specifcaly does NOT suport ratification of Kyoto , nor indeed a Kyoto mark 11 post 2012 ..whereas Edwards and Clintons both specificaly suported both

    With Obama’s history of little CC comitment I see little prospect of a World binding CC Agreement (incl some leeway for Developing Nations) , without which there will be no co2 rediuctions and anything oz does will be ireleveant

    best hopes lies in science…technologyes …Carbon capture , electric cars…fision nuclear , because R E needs a World price on Carbon

  23. pablo

    Amidst all this we had the Maldives leader in Canberra, even doing a joint press conference with Rudd, where he pleaded for a question from the assembled press.
    I for one would have liked to hear of what reaction he got to his feared request that the entire Maldives population might need to migrate to Oz with further sea level rise.

  24. pablo

    Amidst all this we had the Maldives leader in Canberra, even doing a joint press conference with Rudd, where he pleaded for a question from the assembled press.
    I for one would have liked to hear of what reaction he got to his feared request that the entire Maldives population might need to migrate to Oz with further sea level rise.

  25. Katz

    The ultimate claim of government is that it claims the right to a monopoly of violence.

    Let us extend that principle to the situation in the Gulf of Mexico. It is arguable that alongside a government’s claim to the right of a monopoly of violence, the state may well claim the responsibility to exercise a monopoly of salvation. That is, that the government has the responsibility to save its citizens and its territory from catastrophe.

    There is no doubt that the BP oil gusher is an economic and social catastrophe for the Gulf region and its inhabitants.

    It is noteworthy that this catastrophe occurred as a result of BP doing things that they were licensed to to by the State.

    Yet, it is now clear that the State — the US government — does not have the capability to save the people and the region from the consequences of these actions which BP was licensed to perform.

    In other words, the US government relinquished its responsibility to possess the monopoly of salvation. This would appear to me to be a profound abrogation of a fundamental duty of government.

    Obama was not responsible for this abrogation. But he is now responsible to ensure that it never happens again.

    It would therefore appear that unless the US government has the capability to prevent a repetition of this catastrophe, it should ensure that it never happens again. Thus, the government should ban immediately all drilling that the government cannot prevent from destroying people’s lives and the environment.

  26. Katz

    The ultimate claim of government is that it claims the right to a monopoly of violence.

    Let us extend that principle to the situation in the Gulf of Mexico. It is arguable that alongside a government’s claim to the right of a monopoly of violence, the state may well claim the responsibility to exercise a monopoly of salvation. That is, that the government has the responsibility to save its citizens and its territory from catastrophe.

    There is no doubt that the BP oil gusher is an economic and social catastrophe for the Gulf region and its inhabitants.

    It is noteworthy that this catastrophe occurred as a result of BP doing things that they were licensed to to by the State.

    Yet, it is now clear that the State — the US government — does not have the capability to save the people and the region from the consequences of these actions which BP was licensed to perform.

    In other words, the US government relinquished its responsibility to possess the monopoly of salvation. This would appear to me to be a profound abrogation of a fundamental duty of government.

    Obama was not responsible for this abrogation. But he is now responsible to ensure that it never happens again.

    It would therefore appear that unless the US government has the capability to prevent a repetition of this catastrophe, it should ensure that it never happens again. Thus, the government should ban immediately all drilling that the government cannot prevent from destroying people’s lives and the environment.

  27. OldSkeptic

    Katz: “Yet, it is now clear that the State — the US government — does not have the capability to save the people and the region from the consequences of these actions which BP was licensed to perform.”

    Actually they just don’t care. Any mega corporations being hit, any billionairs affected? Cheaper by far to send in troops .. to keep the people from revolting .. at least in the short term. Hey BP has already sent in it’s troops to keep reporters out.

    So ah-lah Katrina and New Orleans. You do know they paid mercenaries to ‘create law and order’?

    Just an observation: Americans go on and on about their rights,freedom and their hatred of Govt – and they are the most sheepish people on the planet.

    I have theory that when a society goes on about an issue that ‘defines their society’. It really means the opposite.

    So:

    US: ‘Freedom, human rights, anti Govt,etc, etc’. Reality: sheep who bend over when anyone from Govt arrives.

    Australia: ‘mateship’. Never met an Australian male who actually has a friend. Australian females are different to be fair, they have one friend: themselves.

    Please add to the list (e.g France – so romantic, artistic and emotional – never been anywhere where [to be fair twisted] logic ruled so much).

    Heck we could do an entire thread about Britain alone!

  28. OldSkeptic

    Katz: “Yet, it is now clear that the State — the US government — does not have the capability to save the people and the region from the consequences of these actions which BP was licensed to perform.”

    Actually they just don’t care. Any mega corporations being hit, any billionairs affected? Cheaper by far to send in troops .. to keep the people from revolting .. at least in the short term. Hey BP has already sent in it’s troops to keep reporters out.

    So ah-lah Katrina and New Orleans. You do know they paid mercenaries to ‘create law and order’?

    Just an observation: Americans go on and on about their rights,freedom and their hatred of Govt – and they are the most sheepish people on the planet.

    I have theory that when a society goes on about an issue that ‘defines their society’. It really means the opposite.

    So:

    US: ‘Freedom, human rights, anti Govt,etc, etc’. Reality: sheep who bend over when anyone from Govt arrives.

    Australia: ‘mateship’. Never met an Australian male who actually has a friend. Australian females are different to be fair, they have one friend: themselves.

    Please add to the list (e.g France – so romantic, artistic and emotional – never been anywhere where [to be fair twisted] logic ruled so much).

    Heck we could do an entire thread about Britain alone!

  29. Katz

    OS, it may well be true that the US govt does not care about the state of the Gulf. (I doubt that, but let us suppose for one moment that it is true.)

    The caring nature (or otherwise) of the US government is not a relevant matter until it is concluded that the US government can do something to alleviate the state of the Gulf but chooses not to.

    The government may care deeply about the plight of the Gulf and yet be utterly impotent to do anything about it.

    And it cannot be denied that the US government is utterly impotent to do anything about the Gulf catastrophe. And yet the Gulf Catastrophe is a creation of US government policy.

  30. Katz

    OS, it may well be true that the US govt does not care about the state of the Gulf. (I doubt that, but let us suppose for one moment that it is true.)

    The caring nature (or otherwise) of the US government is not a relevant matter until it is concluded that the US government can do something to alleviate the state of the Gulf but chooses not to.

    The government may care deeply about the plight of the Gulf and yet be utterly impotent to do anything about it.

    And it cannot be denied that the US government is utterly impotent to do anything about the Gulf catastrophe. And yet the Gulf Catastrophe is a creation of US government policy.

  31. Ute Man

    Katz – the US government doesn’t have the equipment to deal with the problem even if they wanted to. If they want to continue drilling at these kinds of depths, they better procure it pretty quickly.

    The question is: from who? BP are the acknowledged experts and they can’t stop the damn thing. Any enterprise that’s willing to risk the kinds of massive environmental and economic destruction depicted in the oil sands picture is pretty clearly in an awesome amount of trouble finding replacement oil. The easy stuff is gone, forever. The future is even more desperate scrambling for hard to process resources.

    It seems, rather strangely, that Bush/Cheney invading Iraq for the oil was, scarily, a rational if obfuscated decision with hindsight.

    Ride your bikes to work tomorrow people, it’s time to stop buying this stuff. It’s quite literally killing the planet to rely on oil for transport.

  32. Ute Man

    Katz – the US government doesn’t have the equipment to deal with the problem even if they wanted to. If they want to continue drilling at these kinds of depths, they better procure it pretty quickly.

    The question is: from who? BP are the acknowledged experts and they can’t stop the damn thing. Any enterprise that’s willing to risk the kinds of massive environmental and economic destruction depicted in the oil sands picture is pretty clearly in an awesome amount of trouble finding replacement oil. The easy stuff is gone, forever. The future is even more desperate scrambling for hard to process resources.

    It seems, rather strangely, that Bush/Cheney invading Iraq for the oil was, scarily, a rational if obfuscated decision with hindsight.

    Ride your bikes to work tomorrow people, it’s time to stop buying this stuff. It’s quite literally killing the planet to rely on oil for transport.

  33. Saint Furious

    “Because it would be a lot simpler and cheaper to use nuclear to produce the power for electric vehicles which could be mass produced. Having multiple iterations of nuclear powered vehicles would be very expensive and regulating a relatively small number of NPPs fairly simple.”

    Right, super-dooper nuclear. Seriously, do you think that if Olympic Dam were currently open cut, not underground, it would look much different to that oil sands image? The hole will be 5km wide and 7.5km long, and one kilometre deep, they will extract 44 billion tonnes of rock. Maybe someone here can do the maths on how big the waste pile will be, but some here joke about it becoming the tallest mountain range in SA.

    Here’s what it looks like now: http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/200705/r140801_484774.jpg

    That is with a couple of hundred kilometres of underground roads. But it’s tiny compared with what will happen with the expansion. They have a license to pump 42 million litres of artesian water a DAY, but they need more than that – so they will build a desal plant. The mine will require a million litres of [subsidised] diesel a day. I could go on. But to top it all off BHP still operates under the Roxby Downs Indenture Act, which makes it exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, the Aboriginal Heritage Act, the Natural Resource Management Act and the Environmental Protection Act.

  34. Saint Furious

    “Because it would be a lot simpler and cheaper to use nuclear to produce the power for electric vehicles which could be mass produced. Having multiple iterations of nuclear powered vehicles would be very expensive and regulating a relatively small number of NPPs fairly simple.”

    Right, super-dooper nuclear. Seriously, do you think that if Olympic Dam were currently open cut, not underground, it would look much different to that oil sands image? The hole will be 5km wide and 7.5km long, and one kilometre deep, they will extract 44 billion tonnes of rock. Maybe someone here can do the maths on how big the waste pile will be, but some here joke about it becoming the tallest mountain range in SA.

    Here’s what it looks like now: http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/200705/r140801_484774.jpg

    That is with a couple of hundred kilometres of underground roads. But it’s tiny compared with what will happen with the expansion. They have a license to pump 42 million litres of artesian water a DAY, but they need more than that – so they will build a desal plant. The mine will require a million litres of [subsidised] diesel a day. I could go on. But to top it all off BHP still operates under the Roxby Downs Indenture Act, which makes it exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, the Aboriginal Heritage Act, the Natural Resource Management Act and the Environmental Protection Act.

  35. Brian

    Down and out @ 9, thanks for the link. Two things.

    First, to make it very clear the post is suggesting that the well may collapse completely and if it does the relief well will be useless. To read on from your quote:

    Over the next 2 months the mechanical situation also cannot improve, it can only get worse, getting better is an impossibility. While they may make some gains on collecting the leaked oil, the structural situation cannot heal itself. It will continue to erode and flow out more oil and eventually the inevitable collapse which cannot be stopped will happen. It is only a simple matter of who can “get there first”…us or the well.

    We can only hope the race against that eventuality is one we can win, but my assessment I am sad to say is that we will not.

    The system will collapse or fail substantially before we reach the finish line ahead of the well and the worst is yet to come.

    Secondly, this is not an opinion from The Oil Drum. There is a disclaimer at the head of the post. The post is by one of their readers.

    Where that leaves us is beyond me.

  36. Brian

    Down and out @ 9, thanks for the link. Two things.

    First, to make it very clear the post is suggesting that the well may collapse completely and if it does the relief well will be useless. To read on from your quote:

    Over the next 2 months the mechanical situation also cannot improve, it can only get worse, getting better is an impossibility. While they may make some gains on collecting the leaked oil, the structural situation cannot heal itself. It will continue to erode and flow out more oil and eventually the inevitable collapse which cannot be stopped will happen. It is only a simple matter of who can “get there first”…us or the well.

    We can only hope the race against that eventuality is one we can win, but my assessment I am sad to say is that we will not.

    The system will collapse or fail substantially before we reach the finish line ahead of the well and the worst is yet to come.

    Secondly, this is not an opinion from The Oil Drum. There is a disclaimer at the head of the post. The post is by one of their readers.

    Where that leaves us is beyond me.

  37. Fran Barlow

    St Furious said:

    Seriously, do you think that if Olympic Dam were currently open cut …

    Uranium harvest played only a very marginal role in the creation of the Olympic Dam site. Without copper, which underpins electrification, there would be no such mine site.

  38. Fran Barlow

    St Furious said:

    Seriously, do you think that if Olympic Dam were currently open cut …

    Uranium harvest played only a very marginal role in the creation of the Olympic Dam site. Without copper, which underpins electrification, there would be no such mine site.

  39. Katz

    It seems, rather strangely, that Bush/Cheney invading Iraq for the oil was, scarily, a rational if obfuscated decision with hindsight.

    This is an inaccurate view of the nature of the world market of oil. This view is based on the misapprehension that there would be a stream of oil tankers plying between Iraq and the US to the exclusion of all other markets.

    In fact Iraqi oil, even under the regime imagined by Bush/Cheney, would have been sold on the open market to the highest bidder.

    The Bush/Cheney wet dream for Iraq simply revolved around US oil companies owning and managing Iraqi oil assets. This was crony capitalism, not progammatic imperialism.

    But as we all know, the Bush/Cheney vision for Iraq ran aground on the reef of reality.

  40. Katz

    It seems, rather strangely, that Bush/Cheney invading Iraq for the oil was, scarily, a rational if obfuscated decision with hindsight.

    This is an inaccurate view of the nature of the world market of oil. This view is based on the misapprehension that there would be a stream of oil tankers plying between Iraq and the US to the exclusion of all other markets.

    In fact Iraqi oil, even under the regime imagined by Bush/Cheney, would have been sold on the open market to the highest bidder.

    The Bush/Cheney wet dream for Iraq simply revolved around US oil companies owning and managing Iraqi oil assets. This was crony capitalism, not progammatic imperialism.

    But as we all know, the Bush/Cheney vision for Iraq ran aground on the reef of reality.

  41. Brian

    I recall an interchange between a French diplomat or foreign minister (forget which) and his German counterpart. The French bloke was explaining why military adventurism was necessary to secure oil supplies. The German said, “We just go into the market and buy it. We find it cheaper to do it that way!”

  42. Brian

    I recall an interchange between a French diplomat or foreign minister (forget which) and his German counterpart. The French bloke was explaining why military adventurism was necessary to secure oil supplies. The German said, “We just go into the market and buy it. We find it cheaper to do it that way!”

  43. Brian

    Bil @ 8, I’ve removed the part of your comment which was a slur on Hansen.

    Hansen’s chapter on the Venus syndrome runs to 14 pages and it is risible to think that any competent scientist would miss the obvious points you raise. Also you obviously haven’t read the post at BraveNewClimate and Barry Brook’s responses on the comments thread. I have no desire to argue the toss with you because I suspect your position is impervious to rational argument. But a few comments.

    Hansen did his PhD on the atmosphere of Venus and at that stage would have known as much as anyone on the planet about it.

    What the atmosphere in Venus is now is not the point. When it formed it would have been made of roughly the same stuff as Mars and Earth. There’s evidence that it once had considerable amounts of water. We are told that the sun is about 30% hotter now than it was when the planets were formed. But it’s about the dynamics on Earth that could eliminate our existing Goldilocks environment, not about replicating the conditions that prevailed on Venus and made it what it is.

    The sun is 2% hotter than it was 250 million years ago when CO2 as far as we can tell was 2000ppm. That 2% means that we would only need 1000ppm now to achieve the same forcing.

    Measurement of CO2 beyond what the ice cores can tell us is through proxies and the margin for error is high. Recent work suggests that the base carbon load in the atmosphere before the PETM spike 55mya was as little as 1000ppm. Hansen says that 500ppm actually makes more sense and he has reasons for that.

    We are putting a similar amount on carbon into the air from conventional fossil fuels as went up 55mya, but at least 10 times faster. The speed matters.

    Unconventional fossil fuels and exploitation of deposits in extreme environments adds considerably to that.

    Furthermore Hansen thinks the methane clathrate load is greater than it was 55mya and is almost certain to be triggered by ocean warming. Once it starts to blow it will have a rapid warming effect because it’s methane, which will cause more to blow.

    When forcing reaches a certain point (about 10-12 W/m2) climate sensitivity takes off. It’s a nasty tipping point. That’s according to the climate models. You can’t rely on them being wrong.

    There are considerable uncertainties but Barry Brook has the scientific competence to look at and evaluate all this. He says the science indicates a better than 1% chance that it could happen. How much better he doesn’t say. Given how serious the Venus syndrome is those odds are simply unacceptable. Brook points out that the technology to fix the problem is available, by which he no doubt means nukes. I don’t particularly want to go there on this thread.

    As I read them, Hansen is giving us his best estimate. Brook is saying how bad the chances are at the very least.

    BAU is not an option and a delayed response makes the problem considerably harder. And yes, I do think we need to worry about methane.

    Obama needs to get his head around the issue, otherwise we’ll remember him as the one who dropped us in it when it was still possible to do something.

  44. Brian

    Bil @ 8, I’ve removed the part of your comment which was a slur on Hansen.

    Hansen’s chapter on the Venus syndrome runs to 14 pages and it is risible to think that any competent scientist would miss the obvious points you raise. Also you obviously haven’t read the post at BraveNewClimate and Barry Brook’s responses on the comments thread. I have no desire to argue the toss with you because I suspect your position is impervious to rational argument. But a few comments.

    Hansen did his PhD on the atmosphere of Venus and at that stage would have known as much as anyone on the planet about it.

    What the atmosphere in Venus is now is not the point. When it formed it would have been made of roughly the same stuff as Mars and Earth. There’s evidence that it once had considerable amounts of water. We are told that the sun is about 30% hotter now than it was when the planets were formed. But it’s about the dynamics on Earth that could eliminate our existing Goldilocks environment, not about replicating the conditions that prevailed on Venus and made it what it is.

    The sun is 2% hotter than it was 250 million years ago when CO2 as far as we can tell was 2000ppm. That 2% means that we would only need 1000ppm now to achieve the same forcing.

    Measurement of CO2 beyond what the ice cores can tell us is through proxies and the margin for error is high. Recent work suggests that the base carbon load in the atmosphere before the PETM spike 55mya was as little as 1000ppm. Hansen says that 500ppm actually makes more sense and he has reasons for that.

    We are putting a similar amount on carbon into the air from conventional fossil fuels as went up 55mya, but at least 10 times faster. The speed matters.

    Unconventional fossil fuels and exploitation of deposits in extreme environments adds considerably to that.

    Furthermore Hansen thinks the methane clathrate load is greater than it was 55mya and is almost certain to be triggered by ocean warming. Once it starts to blow it will have a rapid warming effect because it’s methane, which will cause more to blow.

    When forcing reaches a certain point (about 10-12 W/m2) climate sensitivity takes off. It’s a nasty tipping point. That’s according to the climate models. You can’t rely on them being wrong.

    There are considerable uncertainties but Barry Brook has the scientific competence to look at and evaluate all this. He says the science indicates a better than 1% chance that it could happen. How much better he doesn’t say. Given how serious the Venus syndrome is those odds are simply unacceptable. Brook points out that the technology to fix the problem is available, by which he no doubt means nukes. I don’t particularly want to go there on this thread.

    As I read them, Hansen is giving us his best estimate. Brook is saying how bad the chances are at the very least.

    BAU is not an option and a delayed response makes the problem considerably harder. And yes, I do think we need to worry about methane.

    Obama needs to get his head around the issue, otherwise we’ll remember him as the one who dropped us in it when it was still possible to do something.

  45. tssk

    This is relevant if not funny.

    The Republicans go on and on about Obama doing nothing.

    Obama acts.

    And here is the response.

    http://www.boingboing.net/2010/06/17/republican-rep-apolo.html#comments

    CBS quotes Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) from today’s hearings on Capitol Hill:

    “I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Barton said. “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case, a $20 billion shakedown.”

  46. tssk

    This is relevant if not funny.

    The Republicans go on and on about Obama doing nothing.

    Obama acts.

    And here is the response.

    http://www.boingboing.net/2010/06/17/republican-rep-apolo.html#comments

    CBS quotes Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) from today’s hearings on Capitol Hill:

    “I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Barton said. “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case, a $20 billion shakedown.”

  47. Brian

    Just generally on Obama, I think to compare him with Bush on climate change is entirely invalid. Under Bush Cheney was chairing a high level committee the purpose of which, as far as I can see, was to preserve BAU.

    Internationally quite energetic action had to be taken to ensure that he didn’t completely wreck everything.

    Obama is hamstrung by fossil fuel influence within Congress including on the Democrats and the success of the denialists in inducing doubt about AGW in the public mind.

    Like Rudd he’s had some very large agenda items like that have required his attention. his intervention on health seemed to be critical to getting an outcome.

    So the hope is that when climate change comes to the top of the pile he’ll make a difference. In a way BP and the oil spill have put it there if anything ahead of his preferred time, but I’m not confident he’s done enough homework to really understand it and what needs to be done.

  48. Brian

    Just generally on Obama, I think to compare him with Bush on climate change is entirely invalid. Under Bush Cheney was chairing a high level committee the purpose of which, as far as I can see, was to preserve BAU.

    Internationally quite energetic action had to be taken to ensure that he didn’t completely wreck everything.

    Obama is hamstrung by fossil fuel influence within Congress including on the Democrats and the success of the denialists in inducing doubt about AGW in the public mind.

    Like Rudd he’s had some very large agenda items like that have required his attention. his intervention on health seemed to be critical to getting an outcome.

    So the hope is that when climate change comes to the top of the pile he’ll make a difference. In a way BP and the oil spill have put it there if anything ahead of his preferred time, but I’m not confident he’s done enough homework to really understand it and what needs to be done.

  49. Fran Barlow

    And just to show the context of these discussions Brian, consider Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Texas who at the senate hearings on BP called the $US20 billion fund for restitution “a shakedown”.

    I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Mr. Barton said in his opening statement. “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown — in this case a $20 billion shakedown.”

    Democrats, smelling blood in an election year, sought to make Mr. Barton an exemplar for Republican ties to “Big Oil.” House Republican leaders, fearing that trap, rushed to contain the damage.

    He is in receipt of money from Big Oil … I’m not sure his enthusiastic support for BP helped them here though.

  50. Fran Barlow

    And just to show the context of these discussions Brian, consider Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Texas who at the senate hearings on BP called the $US20 billion fund for restitution “a shakedown”.

    I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Mr. Barton said in his opening statement. “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown — in this case a $20 billion shakedown.”

    Democrats, smelling blood in an election year, sought to make Mr. Barton an exemplar for Republican ties to “Big Oil.” House Republican leaders, fearing that trap, rushed to contain the damage.

    He is in receipt of money from Big Oil … I’m not sure his enthusiastic support for BP helped them here though.

  51. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Secondly, this is not an opinion from The Oil Drum. There is a disclaimer at the head of the post. The post is by one of their readers.

    You’re right, Brian. I will be more careful about abbreviating attributions.

  52. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Secondly, this is not an opinion from The Oil Drum. There is a disclaimer at the head of the post. The post is by one of their readers.

    You’re right, Brian. I will be more careful about abbreviating attributions.

  53. Elise

    Uteman @16: “Any enterprise that’s willing to risk the kinds of massive environmental and economic destruction depicted in the oil sands picture is pretty clearly in an awesome amount of trouble finding replacement oil. The easy stuff is gone, forever. The future is even more desperate scrambling for hard to process resources.”

    Exactly.

    And don’t even think about trying to put that muck through a petrochemical plant, to make the raw materials for all our other petroleum-based products (rubber, plastics, etc). It is bad enough using fuel oil. The heavy ends after the steam cracker are the ugliest, carcinogenic, tarry, stinking muck you ever saw in your life.

    Desperate is the only word, if we walk that path.

    Just incidentally, if even half of the things that have been reported to the US committee about the well design and the BOP operability and specs for the Deepwater Horizon well are true, then it must have been designed by a mob of cowboys.

    They were operating at the limits of technical capacity (deepwater, very high pressures, and apparently narrow window between pore pressure and fracture pressure), AND cutting corners on nearly every aspect. They were taking incredible risks, with no safety margins to speak of.

    BP either has a rogue division in the GOM, or they have slack standards for GOM compared to those used in the North Sea. I can scarcely believe the well design was approved by internal review (assuming they still do such things).

  54. Elise

    Uteman @16: “Any enterprise that’s willing to risk the kinds of massive environmental and economic destruction depicted in the oil sands picture is pretty clearly in an awesome amount of trouble finding replacement oil. The easy stuff is gone, forever. The future is even more desperate scrambling for hard to process resources.”

    Exactly.

    And don’t even think about trying to put that muck through a petrochemical plant, to make the raw materials for all our other petroleum-based products (rubber, plastics, etc). It is bad enough using fuel oil. The heavy ends after the steam cracker are the ugliest, carcinogenic, tarry, stinking muck you ever saw in your life.

    Desperate is the only word, if we walk that path.

    Just incidentally, if even half of the things that have been reported to the US committee about the well design and the BOP operability and specs for the Deepwater Horizon well are true, then it must have been designed by a mob of cowboys.

    They were operating at the limits of technical capacity (deepwater, very high pressures, and apparently narrow window between pore pressure and fracture pressure), AND cutting corners on nearly every aspect. They were taking incredible risks, with no safety margins to speak of.

    BP either has a rogue division in the GOM, or they have slack standards for GOM compared to those used in the North Sea. I can scarcely believe the well design was approved by internal review (assuming they still do such things).

  55. Brian

    Elise, I suspect you haven’t seen the transcript of the Law Report of 18 May. It contained this priceless interchange between reporter Andrew Dodd and Louisiana attorney Stuart Smith:

    Andrew Dodd: So are the laws governing the way offshore oil rigs do their business, are they confusing? Are they arcane like some have argued they are in Australia?

    Stuart Smith: Well, I mean, they have very stringent regulations under the Mineral Management Service (MMS) which regulates them. The problem is that there’s no teeth in them, in the sense that they’re not enforced. There was a big scandal a couple of years ago with the MMS were Mineral Management Service employees were caught having sex with and cocaine parties with the oil companies.

    Andrew Dodd: Literally?

    Stuart Smith: Literally, yes.

    Andrew Dodd: What effect did that have?

    Stuart Smith: Well there was a big investigation and they all got fired, but that shows you the cosy relationship between the MMS and the oil industry.

    It appears that BP is also into tar sands.

    That was 2007.

    This post from March 2010 indicates they are into it again, that they are into deep water leases off Brazil and, surprise surprise, that back in 1999 when they announced that they were getting out of tar sands they hung onto at least one lease.

  56. Brian

    Elise, I suspect you haven’t seen the transcript of the Law Report of 18 May. It contained this priceless interchange between reporter Andrew Dodd and Louisiana attorney Stuart Smith:

    Andrew Dodd: So are the laws governing the way offshore oil rigs do their business, are they confusing? Are they arcane like some have argued they are in Australia?

    Stuart Smith: Well, I mean, they have very stringent regulations under the Mineral Management Service (MMS) which regulates them. The problem is that there’s no teeth in them, in the sense that they’re not enforced. There was a big scandal a couple of years ago with the MMS were Mineral Management Service employees were caught having sex with and cocaine parties with the oil companies.

    Andrew Dodd: Literally?

    Stuart Smith: Literally, yes.

    Andrew Dodd: What effect did that have?

    Stuart Smith: Well there was a big investigation and they all got fired, but that shows you the cosy relationship between the MMS and the oil industry.

    It appears that BP is also into tar sands.

    That was 2007.

    This post from March 2010 indicates they are into it again, that they are into deep water leases off Brazil and, surprise surprise, that back in 1999 when they announced that they were getting out of tar sands they hung onto at least one lease.

  57. OldSkeptic

    The other problem with tar sands is the amount of energy and water they require to extract. Mostly they use natural gas for heating (though other methods have been proposed) so you are using up one finite energy resource to get another finite energy resource.

    Then water, you use a hck of lot of water and you have serious, like really serious, pollution issues.

    Only a seriously flawed economic system (where finiteness and externalities are uncosted) makes this even remotly feasable.

  58. OldSkeptic

    The other problem with tar sands is the amount of energy and water they require to extract. Mostly they use natural gas for heating (though other methods have been proposed) so you are using up one finite energy resource to get another finite energy resource.

    Then water, you use a hck of lot of water and you have serious, like really serious, pollution issues.

    Only a seriously flawed economic system (where finiteness and externalities are uncosted) makes this even remotly feasable.

  59. OldSkeptic

    Katz, is was a considered statement, based on actions prior and during the event. Plus the past history of Katrina.

    Caring means you care and you put everything into the issue. Prior to the event it means you watch and control everything BP did. Plus you put everything you have into protecting the area.

    None of those happened, that wonderful thing ‘deregulation’ and ‘self regulation’ (so ‘economically’ more efficient) made sure the BP (with the worst environmental record of any oil major) was allowed to go its own way.

    Then when it hit the fan BP was allowed, is still allowed, to ban independent researchers from the area and get away with lying about the volume of oil being pumped out (right up until this week in fact).

    Then attempts to seal the breach, only much later did the capturing of some of the oil leaking being undertaken.

    At each step the US Govt agreed and helped (like no fly zones being increased, etc).

    Now if they ‘cared’ you’d do both, capture as much leaking as possible – while you tried to ‘top kill it’. But that’d cost some money. Or you’d get every floating boom in the World to close off the spill .. cost money again.

    Easier to lie and go along with BP (incidentally the single biggest provider of fuels to the US armed forces), do some smoke and mirrors, get $20B (BP has $8B in cash and just cancelled its dividend of $10B so its drop in the ocean stuff). Keep independents out of the area using the full backing of US armed forces.

    Later, when it all quietens down, the US Congress will pass laws limiting who can claim and how much they can claim (personal forecast that I’ll take bets on). Of that $20B not a lot will get into ordinary peoples hands.

    Basically the Katrina playbook. This is not just incompetence it is a wished for outcome.

    Now to be fair this could change .. if oil hits the Hamptons beaches. But then you will really see some action … for the Hampton beaches, the GOM will still suck on the hind ones.

    Background about WHY these things go these ways:

    The US is in a full scale class war (like the UK in the mid/late 17th and early 18th centuries and the last 30 years). It is a country dying in the peripheries and quite happy to let outer areas go under as long as the core is ok, this trend will continue until collapse (and don’t be so smug .. so is Australia, our class war is just a little milder and slower, but will end up with the same result in the end).

  60. OldSkeptic

    Katz, is was a considered statement, based on actions prior and during the event. Plus the past history of Katrina.

    Caring means you care and you put everything into the issue. Prior to the event it means you watch and control everything BP did. Plus you put everything you have into protecting the area.

    None of those happened, that wonderful thing ‘deregulation’ and ‘self regulation’ (so ‘economically’ more efficient) made sure the BP (with the worst environmental record of any oil major) was allowed to go its own way.

    Then when it hit the fan BP was allowed, is still allowed, to ban independent researchers from the area and get away with lying about the volume of oil being pumped out (right up until this week in fact).

    Then attempts to seal the breach, only much later did the capturing of some of the oil leaking being undertaken.

    At each step the US Govt agreed and helped (like no fly zones being increased, etc).

    Now if they ‘cared’ you’d do both, capture as much leaking as possible – while you tried to ‘top kill it’. But that’d cost some money. Or you’d get every floating boom in the World to close off the spill .. cost money again.

    Easier to lie and go along with BP (incidentally the single biggest provider of fuels to the US armed forces), do some smoke and mirrors, get $20B (BP has $8B in cash and just cancelled its dividend of $10B so its drop in the ocean stuff). Keep independents out of the area using the full backing of US armed forces.

    Later, when it all quietens down, the US Congress will pass laws limiting who can claim and how much they can claim (personal forecast that I’ll take bets on). Of that $20B not a lot will get into ordinary peoples hands.

    Basically the Katrina playbook. This is not just incompetence it is a wished for outcome.

    Now to be fair this could change .. if oil hits the Hamptons beaches. But then you will really see some action … for the Hampton beaches, the GOM will still suck on the hind ones.

    Background about WHY these things go these ways:

    The US is in a full scale class war (like the UK in the mid/late 17th and early 18th centuries and the last 30 years). It is a country dying in the peripheries and quite happy to let outer areas go under as long as the core is ok, this trend will continue until collapse (and don’t be so smug .. so is Australia, our class war is just a little milder and slower, but will end up with the same result in the end).

  61. Ute Man

    BP either has a rogue division in the GOM, or they have slack standards for GOM compared to those used in the North Sea. I can scarcely believe the well design was approved by internal review (assuming they still do such things).

    Not rogue, just unprecedented. North Sea oil was closer to the surface and not under the kinds of pressures that BP just discovered.

    Reckless? Sure. Desperate? It sure looks like it. The problem I see at the moment is that nobody is concentrating their questions in that area. Why are these companies so desperate that they want to exploit tar sands, or drill on what might as well be Mars, or destroy ecosystems in Alaska. At this stage I just don’t care who is to blame.

    I want to know, for sure, from the horses mouth, that the oil companies absolutely agree the cheap, easy oil is done forever. Forget Sarah Palin tweeting about environmentalist concerns somehow locking up easier resources and forget bleating about Opec production levels. What the hell are BP doing and why.

    More to the point, what is the Australian government doing about it. We peaked a couple of decades ago and nobody batted an eyelid. Indonesia is done and is a net importer. The US has been a net importer since the 1970s. We can’t all be net oil importers. At some point, something has to give.

  62. Ute Man

    BP either has a rogue division in the GOM, or they have slack standards for GOM compared to those used in the North Sea. I can scarcely believe the well design was approved by internal review (assuming they still do such things).

    Not rogue, just unprecedented. North Sea oil was closer to the surface and not under the kinds of pressures that BP just discovered.

    Reckless? Sure. Desperate? It sure looks like it. The problem I see at the moment is that nobody is concentrating their questions in that area. Why are these companies so desperate that they want to exploit tar sands, or drill on what might as well be Mars, or destroy ecosystems in Alaska. At this stage I just don’t care who is to blame.

    I want to know, for sure, from the horses mouth, that the oil companies absolutely agree the cheap, easy oil is done forever. Forget Sarah Palin tweeting about environmentalist concerns somehow locking up easier resources and forget bleating about Opec production levels. What the hell are BP doing and why.

    More to the point, what is the Australian government doing about it. We peaked a couple of decades ago and nobody batted an eyelid. Indonesia is done and is a net importer. The US has been a net importer since the 1970s. We can’t all be net oil importers. At some point, something has to give.

  63. Huggybunny

    Fran, et al
    Suggest you get hold of this weeks New Scientist and read about the gas revolution that is going on in the real world.
    BTW also go to
    http://www.theengineer.co.uk/1003038.article?cmpid=TE01P&cmptype=newsletter
    Huggy

  64. Huggybunny

    Fran, et al
    Suggest you get hold of this weeks New Scientist and read about the gas revolution that is going on in the real world.
    BTW also go to
    http://www.theengineer.co.uk/1003038.article?cmpid=TE01P&cmptype=newsletter
    Huggy

  65. Paul Burns

    During WW2 near Serena in Qld the Labor Government out of desperation for fuel started mining for shale oil. At war’s end the project was shut down because it was uneconomic. There was a shale oil project in development some years ago, but I’m not sure if it actually got up, or was in Queensland. Peak oil has come and gone. The Gulf tragedy demonsatrates deep oil drilling is completely unsafe, with real and incalculable environmental costs, and that these accidents can and will happen anywhere. Time for petrol rationing?

  66. Paul Burns

    During WW2 near Serena in Qld the Labor Government out of desperation for fuel started mining for shale oil. At war’s end the project was shut down because it was uneconomic. There was a shale oil project in development some years ago, but I’m not sure if it actually got up, or was in Queensland. Peak oil has come and gone. The Gulf tragedy demonsatrates deep oil drilling is completely unsafe, with real and incalculable environmental costs, and that these accidents can and will happen anywhere. Time for petrol rationing?

  67. OldSkeptic

    And just to back up how little care the US admin really has (echoing Katrina) here’s come examples:

    See: BP Oil Spill: Against Gov. Jindal’s Wishes, Crude-Sucking Barges Stopped by Coast Guard. At: http://abcnews.go.com/WN/bp-oil-spill-gov-bobby-jindals-wishes-crude/story?id=10946379

    Or: Glenn Stehle: BP’s Hayward Before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Summary and link to CSPAN coverage at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/06/glenn-stehle-bps-hayward-before-the-house-committee-on-energy-and-commerce.html

    “An absolute MUST SEE is Steve Scalise’s (R-Louisiana) questioning of Hayward. It speaks to the BP-Obama twosome that is pitted against the people of the Gulf Coast region. It begins here at minute 01:31:30

    Scalise explains how local leaders get caught in this vice between BP and the federal government, get passed back and forth between the two, with neither willing to make any decisions or approve any expenditures. Things are at a total standstill, and have been for nearly two months. Nothing moves. Nothing gets done.”

    If you really care you focus and grip the issue.

  68. OldSkeptic

    And just to back up how little care the US admin really has (echoing Katrina) here’s come examples:

    See: BP Oil Spill: Against Gov. Jindal’s Wishes, Crude-Sucking Barges Stopped by Coast Guard. At: http://abcnews.go.com/WN/bp-oil-spill-gov-bobby-jindals-wishes-crude/story?id=10946379

    Or: Glenn Stehle: BP’s Hayward Before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Summary and link to CSPAN coverage at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/06/glenn-stehle-bps-hayward-before-the-house-committee-on-energy-and-commerce.html

    “An absolute MUST SEE is Steve Scalise’s (R-Louisiana) questioning of Hayward. It speaks to the BP-Obama twosome that is pitted against the people of the Gulf Coast region. It begins here at minute 01:31:30

    Scalise explains how local leaders get caught in this vice between BP and the federal government, get passed back and forth between the two, with neither willing to make any decisions or approve any expenditures. Things are at a total standstill, and have been for nearly two months. Nothing moves. Nothing gets done.”

    If you really care you focus and grip the issue.

  69. Katz

    Caring means you care and you put everything into the issue. Prior to the event it means you watch and control everything BP did. Plus you put everything you have into protecting the area.

    Somewhat tautological OS.

    Successive US administrations, driven by a range of priorities, underestimated and/or deliberately ignored the risks associated with deep-sea drilling. There is no doubt that the Bush/Cheney regime were shills for oil interests. Those attitudes were bizarrely voiced by that Texas Republican Joe Barton, much to the embarrassment of his Republican colleagues.

    It is true that the Obama administration was caught on the hop by the BP catastrophe. Protocols established by previous administrations applied. Yet over time, from a standing start, the Obama administration has become much more interventionist.

    It is doubtless that Obama’s interventionism has be driven by a range of motives, both noble and ignoble. Obama cares about many things: his flagging reputation as a leader, the financial viability of the US oil industry, and yes, the environment and the welfare of communities and individuals living on the Gulf.

    Later, when it all quietens down, the US Congress will pass laws limiting who can claim and how much they can claim (personal forecast that I’ll take bets on). Of that $20B not a lot will get into ordinary peoples hands.

    You appear to be very confident of this OS. But you need to clarify what you mean. Will this happen under an Obama presidency? Will the Congress that passes these hypothetical laws be Republican or Democrat? Do you think that this distinction is relevant? Will Obama support this legislation?

    More globally, it is surely a legitimate function of any government to enact legislation to manage and control the flow of compensation money. Otherwise the process would be at the mercy of every shakedown artist and every spurious claim. It is therefore necessary for you to state what might a legitimate claim before you challenge folks to take bets on the perfidy of the US government.

  70. Katz

    Caring means you care and you put everything into the issue. Prior to the event it means you watch and control everything BP did. Plus you put everything you have into protecting the area.

    Somewhat tautological OS.

    Successive US administrations, driven by a range of priorities, underestimated and/or deliberately ignored the risks associated with deep-sea drilling. There is no doubt that the Bush/Cheney regime were shills for oil interests. Those attitudes were bizarrely voiced by that Texas Republican Joe Barton, much to the embarrassment of his Republican colleagues.

    It is true that the Obama administration was caught on the hop by the BP catastrophe. Protocols established by previous administrations applied. Yet over time, from a standing start, the Obama administration has become much more interventionist.

    It is doubtless that Obama’s interventionism has be driven by a range of motives, both noble and ignoble. Obama cares about many things: his flagging reputation as a leader, the financial viability of the US oil industry, and yes, the environment and the welfare of communities and individuals living on the Gulf.

    Later, when it all quietens down, the US Congress will pass laws limiting who can claim and how much they can claim (personal forecast that I’ll take bets on). Of that $20B not a lot will get into ordinary peoples hands.

    You appear to be very confident of this OS. But you need to clarify what you mean. Will this happen under an Obama presidency? Will the Congress that passes these hypothetical laws be Republican or Democrat? Do you think that this distinction is relevant? Will Obama support this legislation?

    More globally, it is surely a legitimate function of any government to enact legislation to manage and control the flow of compensation money. Otherwise the process would be at the mercy of every shakedown artist and every spurious claim. It is therefore necessary for you to state what might a legitimate claim before you challenge folks to take bets on the perfidy of the US government.

  71. murph the surf.

    “If you are American or live on the Gulf Coast this is probably not what you want to hear, but bear with me and we will take a colder, more jaundiced, look at the issues.

    There were 126 people working on Deepwater Horizon when it blew up.
    Only 8 of them were BP employees.
    79 worked for Transocean who actually owned and, crucially, operated the rig.
    41 worked for other contractors such as Anadarko Petroleum Corporation a partner with BP of which BP owns 65%, Andarko 25% and Mitsui Oil Exploration 10%.

    M-I Swaco provided all the mud-engineering work on the rig.

    And Halliburton (everyone’s favourite American engineering firm), and as you will doubtless remember, ex Vice President Dick Cheney’s old firm, were responsible for cementing on the sea bed.

    Cameron International provided the blowout protection valves which, um er didn’t. Love to be a fly on the wall there.”
    .
    http://theoligarchkings.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/hot-oil-and-cold-blood/
    An interesting blog.

  72. murph the surf.

    “If you are American or live on the Gulf Coast this is probably not what you want to hear, but bear with me and we will take a colder, more jaundiced, look at the issues.

    There were 126 people working on Deepwater Horizon when it blew up.
    Only 8 of them were BP employees.
    79 worked for Transocean who actually owned and, crucially, operated the rig.
    41 worked for other contractors such as Anadarko Petroleum Corporation a partner with BP of which BP owns 65%, Andarko 25% and Mitsui Oil Exploration 10%.

    M-I Swaco provided all the mud-engineering work on the rig.

    And Halliburton (everyone’s favourite American engineering firm), and as you will doubtless remember, ex Vice President Dick Cheney’s old firm, were responsible for cementing on the sea bed.

    Cameron International provided the blowout protection valves which, um er didn’t. Love to be a fly on the wall there.”
    .
    http://theoligarchkings.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/hot-oil-and-cold-blood/
    An interesting blog.

  73. John D

    There is a very strong case for doing something to dramatically reduce oil consumption that is independent of the climate change argument. The extended Gulf and Timor oil spills and the high emissions/environmental damage associated with marginal oil sources such as oil sands and oil shale all suggest that the politics of acting now on oil consumption will be a lot easier than trying to introduce grand cap and trade schemes that nobody understands.

    Shouldn’t be too hard. The most efficient, commercially available, non-hybrid cars use less than 30% of the Australian average car fuel consumption and plug in hybrids could drive this down to less than 3%. Gizmag has a raft of examples of improvements in trucking efficieny.
    In addition, an MRET style system could drive down the fuel consumption of new cars without the need for artificial increases in the price of fuel.

    This article in The Atlantic details the progress being made in China in reducing emissions. Time for Rudd and Obama to stop using China as an excuse for doing next to nothing?

  74. John D

    There is a very strong case for doing something to dramatically reduce oil consumption that is independent of the climate change argument. The extended Gulf and Timor oil spills and the high emissions/environmental damage associated with marginal oil sources such as oil sands and oil shale all suggest that the politics of acting now on oil consumption will be a lot easier than trying to introduce grand cap and trade schemes that nobody understands.

    Shouldn’t be too hard. The most efficient, commercially available, non-hybrid cars use less than 30% of the Australian average car fuel consumption and plug in hybrids could drive this down to less than 3%. Gizmag has a raft of examples of improvements in trucking efficieny.
    In addition, an MRET style system could drive down the fuel consumption of new cars without the need for artificial increases in the price of fuel.

    This article in The Atlantic details the progress being made in China in reducing emissions. Time for Rudd and Obama to stop using China as an excuse for doing next to nothing?

  75. Tim Macknay

    We peaked a couple of decades ago and nobody batted an eyelid.

    Well, one decade ago, to be exact.

    I agree, though, that sustainability questions are being wilfully ignored in all this. The current craze for turning some of our best farmland into coal seam gas fields raises the same question, as does the ongoing cannibalisation of farmland for subsurban subdivisions. It’s objectively insane, but nobody talks about that. People might get embarrassed.

  76. Tim Macknay

    We peaked a couple of decades ago and nobody batted an eyelid.

    Well, one decade ago, to be exact.

    I agree, though, that sustainability questions are being wilfully ignored in all this. The current craze for turning some of our best farmland into coal seam gas fields raises the same question, as does the ongoing cannibalisation of farmland for subsurban subdivisions. It’s objectively insane, but nobody talks about that. People might get embarrassed.

  77. Ute Man

    John D wrote:

    Shouldn’t be too hard. The most efficient, commercially available, non-hybrid cars use less than 30% of the Australian average car fuel consumption and plug in hybrids could drive this down to less than 3%. Gizmag has a raft of examples of improvements in trucking efficieny.

    Gizmag be damned. None of the calculations take into account the manufacturing of the hybrids – remember it can take a decade of owning a more efficient vehicle just to cover the energy required to create it, let alone the carbon emissions. As a society, we’d be better off slowly winding down using the old vehicles we’ve already sunk our carbon/energy costs into. That means, to me, a punitive and exhorbitant tax on new vehicles, fuel rationing rather than taxes (Paul Burns, an excellent suggestion) and a limited expansion of manufacturing for replacement parts for the existing fleet. Side effect: human capital expansion in vehicle repair. Government fleets should be required to keep their vehicles for 10 years, not 3.

  78. Ute Man

    John D wrote:

    Shouldn’t be too hard. The most efficient, commercially available, non-hybrid cars use less than 30% of the Australian average car fuel consumption and plug in hybrids could drive this down to less than 3%. Gizmag has a raft of examples of improvements in trucking efficieny.

    Gizmag be damned. None of the calculations take into account the manufacturing of the hybrids – remember it can take a decade of owning a more efficient vehicle just to cover the energy required to create it, let alone the carbon emissions. As a society, we’d be better off slowly winding down using the old vehicles we’ve already sunk our carbon/energy costs into. That means, to me, a punitive and exhorbitant tax on new vehicles, fuel rationing rather than taxes (Paul Burns, an excellent suggestion) and a limited expansion of manufacturing for replacement parts for the existing fleet. Side effect: human capital expansion in vehicle repair. Government fleets should be required to keep their vehicles for 10 years, not 3.

  79. Brian

    Climate Progress reposted an article from the Center for American Progress site, by Bracken Hendricks and Tom Kenworthy, Senior Fellows and Kate Gordon, VP for Energy Policy at the CAP:

    Fix the real problem: America’s energy vulnerability

    I do believe that was posted the day before Obama’s Oval Office speech.

  80. Brian

    Climate Progress reposted an article from the Center for American Progress site, by Bracken Hendricks and Tom Kenworthy, Senior Fellows and Kate Gordon, VP for Energy Policy at the CAP:

    Fix the real problem: America’s energy vulnerability

    I do believe that was posted the day before Obama’s Oval Office speech.

  81. Brian

    I think someone upthread referred to this article from the New Scientist without the link:

    Wonderfuel: Welcome to the age of unconventional gas

    John D, That article about China is indeed a hurry-up for Obama and Rudd. Seems they have been very serious about reshaping their economy towards renewable energy for at least 5 years. It’s just that they don’t want to be limited in any way by binding international commitments.

    The article puts the issue of American leadership well:

    How would the United States passing something like the American Power Act encourage other countries to act?

    If America shows its seriousness with a national strategy to develop green tech and cut emissions and put a price on carbon, that will remove a lot of the excuses for countries who’ve been inactive. We can’t reestablish leadership in the international climate talks without legally binding domestic policies. Until we do that, we’re in a really awkward position where we’re getting developing countries to act while we’re historically the largest emitter of gases. It’s hypocritical. But the moment that we act, it removes the excuses and I think it will have a positive impact.

    This article suggests that for China economic growth trumps concern about climate change as does energy security. Hence a central role for coal is preserved.

  82. Brian

    I think someone upthread referred to this article from the New Scientist without the link:

    Wonderfuel: Welcome to the age of unconventional gas

    John D, That article about China is indeed a hurry-up for Obama and Rudd. Seems they have been very serious about reshaping their economy towards renewable energy for at least 5 years. It’s just that they don’t want to be limited in any way by binding international commitments.

    The article puts the issue of American leadership well:

    How would the United States passing something like the American Power Act encourage other countries to act?

    If America shows its seriousness with a national strategy to develop green tech and cut emissions and put a price on carbon, that will remove a lot of the excuses for countries who’ve been inactive. We can’t reestablish leadership in the international climate talks without legally binding domestic policies. Until we do that, we’re in a really awkward position where we’re getting developing countries to act while we’re historically the largest emitter of gases. It’s hypocritical. But the moment that we act, it removes the excuses and I think it will have a positive impact.

    This article suggests that for China economic growth trumps concern about climate change as does energy security. Hence a central role for coal is preserved.