Charles Krauthammer's op-ed in the Review today comes out of left field through a tear in the space-time continuum. The blame for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico lies with environmentalists.
As production from the shallower Gulf of Mexico wells declines, we go deep (1,000 feet and more) and ultra deep (5,000 feet and more), in part because environmentalists have succeeded in rendering the Pacific and nearly all the Atlantic coast off-limits to oil production. (President Obama’s tentative, selective opening of some Atlantic and offshore Alaska sites is now dead.) And of course, in the safest of all places, on land, we’ve had a 30-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Note that Krauthammer says "As production from..." Well if the oil runs out, as it does for every well, then they drill elsewhere. How many oil wells are there in the gulf? In a Wired article three years ago, they state there are over 3,500 oil production platforms. And each platform has multiple wells.
Krauthammer, continuing with his cluelessness, states:
So we go deep, ultra deep – to such a technological frontier that no precedent exists for the April 20 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.
If we go back to the Wired article we find it is primarily about deep water drilling expressing capabilities that exceed that of the recently exploded and sunken oil platform.
Today, deep-sea rigs are capable of reaching down 40,000 feet, twice as deep as a decade ago: plunging their drills through 10,000 feet of water and then 30,000 more feet of seabed.
Why are they out there in such deep water?
The mother lode of oil in the deepwater Gulf is so significant that Tahiti and other successful fields in this region are expected to soon produce enough crude to reverse the long-standing decline in US oil production of about 10 percent per year. (Note: Tahiti is the name of this 30-square-mile oil field.)
They're not drilling in deep water because environmentalists pushed them out there. There's much simpler reason. That's where the oil is.
I, and I think many others, don't really grasp the complexity of deep water drilling. So have a look at the behemoth known as Perdido Spar.
Given that, I think Krauthammer may be right about one thing when he says, There will always be catastrophic oil spills.
The Whole Enchilada
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