Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lets Change the Subject for a day (and let Gary rant)

Are you as tired of war and disasters and politics as I am? Well, war and disasters are always something to get tired of very quickly –like before they even start. But politics, that is another matter.

It seems to me that the problem is just that we have been seeing the same politics, same politicians, same political problems, same proposed solutions, same debate and same promises for 3 years now, ever since the beginning of the last Presidential election. It just does not stop. Personally, I am sick of it. Oh, I know, it is important stuff. Some of those issues have very real consequences and we need to pay attention. Yes, that is true. But we also need a break before our eyes start to bleed.

Our Congress goes on vacations at the drop of a hat –but while they are on vacation the Senators and Congressmen run around making speeches and stopping for photo ops. I think we should tell them we need a vacation too. From now on, when they go on “vacation” they should be banned from any form of “politicking”. Who knows, maybe if they were forced to shut up once in a while they would actually use that time to think and come up with some creative and useful ideas and legislation……naw….

Anyway, I decided to write about our need for oil drilling here in the good ‘ole US of A. Shhh, I know, that smacks of a kind of political issue too, but let’s pretend it isn’t just to make me feel better.

On March 22nd Michael Bromwich, the top U.S. offshore-drilling regulator who heads the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, said more permits to drill for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico's deep water would be issued "within the next week."

In recent weeks, the agency has issued four deep-water drilling permits, including one Tuesday that allows Exxon Mobil Corp. to drill a new well in 6,941 feet of water (that is a half mile deeper than Deepwater Horizon, anybody nervous yet?). Those permits are the first to be issued since such operations were shut down for deep-water drilling in response to the Deepwater Horizon's explosion and subsequent oil spill. On Monday the agency also awarded Royal Dutch Shell PLC the first deep-water exploration plan since the disaster.

Some oil and gas companies have "clearly recognized that Deepwater Horizon was the symptom of a broader failure in both industry and government" to match safety with the increasing risk of deep-water operations Mr. Bromwich said, "But there are other operators who, with surprising and disturbing speed, have seemed all-too-ready to shrug off Deepwater Horizon as a complete aberration, a perfect storm, one in a million".

Mr. Bromwich is correctly careful and hesitant, wanting to ensure we don’t have another oil spill. However, I think we need to weight his comments in light of the fact that he is an Obama Administration employee and is obviously loyal to the party line. That line lately appears to be to publicly support drilling but to privately work to delay and obstruct whenever possible. Their favorite tactic is this very one –use the oil spill as an excuse for an “abundance of caution”.

Bromwich also said a shallow-water natural gas well operated by Apache Corp. that leaked for several days this year shows that risks aren't confined to deep water (deep water is typically that over 1,000 feet). An Apache spokesman said the company worked closely with regulators to stop a bubbling natural gas well, which released no oil and caused no injuries. The company was permanently plugging wells in a depleted gas field when the bubbling was noticed, he said. "Apache knows very well that the risks of operating offshore are neither trivial nor non-existent," he said in an email.

Though Bromwich told regulators that more deep-water drilling permits will be approved "in the coming weeks and months," he also said after the speech that some projects would be approved in the next week. Mr. Bromwich said he couldn't predict the pace at which permits will come from the agency, because each project will be considered individually (surpised?).

Right now the key for permits being issued is the development and readiness of a pair of spill-containment systems, one built by a nonprofit consortium of large oil companies (the Marine Well Containment Co.), and the other owned by Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc., which helped stanch the flow from BP PLC's runaway well after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded.

"The tests that have been conducted so far, even though they're not under spill conditions, give us the confidence that has been necessary for us to be comfortable in approving these permits," Mr. Bromwich said.

Mr. Bromwich also said there is a "high probability" some offshore leases will be extended to account for the five-month drilling ban that followed the Deepwater Horizon disaster and subsequent permitting delays.

Like many of my friends, I am really aggravated by the politics being played with the drilling issue. I approve of a lot of caution, especially with deep water drilling, but we have huge untapped oil resources around the country, not just in the gulf, that we should be exploring and drilling.

Alternate energy is a very good idea, but it is still years or decades away from replacing our need for oil. In the meantime we are still being held hostage by Middle Eastern Oil Sheiks, many of whom would like to see us cease to exist. They control oil prices and that can control our whole economy. 

Do you realize that the phrase “It’s time we end foreign oil dependence” was first used in a speech by Nixon and has been repeated by every single President since ---for the last 50 years?

What is the matter with us? Why do we go blindly along with this when we have the resources here to end the dependence once and for all????

OK, I through ranting (for today)….

Live Long and Prosper....

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