BP’s Endless Sea of Black

June 3, 2010

Looks like progress is finally being made on capping the oil well. It doesn’t seem like the cap is securely on top of the pipe yet, just covering the majority of it at the moment.

BP better hope that this process accomplishes the goal of capturing the majority of the spewing oil. Yet another failure is only going to lead to BP’s public image getting tarnished, the oil industry’s image getting tarnished, and our beloved Barack Obama’s image getting tarnished as well.

How does BP and the oil industry recover from this event? Experts agree that this never should have happened in the first place. Oil rigs sinking? There are failsafes in place to prevent things like that. It’s unfortunate that BP was the oil company who was victim of this disaster because, frankly, they are the oil company I liked the most. They seemed to be the most forward thinking company that made an attempt to diversify their assets across all forms of energy technologies. BP advertises that one of their core business functions is alternative energy, saying it right there on their organization page for job seekers. To me, any company that advertises something as one of the pillars of their business either has an amazing marketing department or actually views that area as important to their development. I’m usually a pessimist but I’m going to opt with the latter in this case.

But that was then and this spill is now. BP has to be extra vigilant and double check their math over the next few days to make sure they can contain this spill ASAP before more damage is done to their public image. It will be interesting to see how this spill affects the climate bill waiting in the Senate currently as offshore drilling was a major part of the bill in order to reel in Republicans. As a scientist, I can’t say that all offshore drilling needs to be scrapped and never thought of again just because of this one incident. If that was the case every time something major happened, then we wouldn’t have planes, we wouldn’t have ships, we wouldn’t have cars, nor would we have homes. Unfortunately, people remember big events and consider things to be more dangerous than they actually are. It’s why some people consider planes to be a more dangerous method of travel than autos. Because when a plane goes down, it becomes national news. When a car crashes, it’s only local news.

I wouldn’t be surprised if people start comparing this spill to Three Mile Island and/or Chernobyl in order to try and group offshore drilling with nuclear power. After all, nobody died in Three Mile Island (11 people died in Deepwater Horizon) and Chernobyl was operated without very many failsafes nor was it maintained very well by the Soviets. All three had some element of environmental damage, with Three Mile Island arguably being the least damaging. My hope would be that politicians don’t take this route as it would no doubt lengthen the already lengthy road ahead for the climate bill. Nuclear power is already a hot topic in the energy world. No need to make offshore drilling a hot topic as well.

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One Response to “BP’s Endless Sea of Black”

  1. Abbelani said

    Wholeheartedly agree with you. I’m amazed that this even happened, and while I certainly hope nothing like this happens again, I really hope that people don’t completely overreact. The best case is if it helps to pass a carbon tax or any legislation that in the future leads to a stronger alternative energy industry.

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