Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Primary and Special Elections

The elections held on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 reflected considerable concern about what is happening to us as a nation. Results point to an historic shift in power to the conservative end of the political spectrum in November. Much of it is being driven by the Tea Party Movement which is built around returning to constitutional government as defined by the founding fathers. An added influence is coming from many who voted for Obama and who are now suffering "buyers' remorse". Included in that group are those who voted for Obama out of a strong hatred for George W. Bush.

Tea Party Movement

When media leftists pooh pooh the Tea Party Movement, you know they and their Democrat friends are running scared. The tea party is genuinely grassroots in its appeal. It lacks the structure of either major political party in the country and will remain that way if it's to succeed in its return-to-constitutional government mission. Many on the left like to say it's a Republican-driven movement, but that is not the case. While many of those who have joined in demonstrations of the movement are indeed Republicans, there are many independents and Democrats joining in as well.

Buyers' Remorse

A very good friend of mine voted for Obama because he saw him as a fresh face pointing to a hopeful future. My friend also despised George W. Bush and simply did not want to see his way of doing things continue. He now freely admits to "buyers' remorse" and is enthusiastic about the Tea Party Movement. My friend is not alone as there are thousands if not millions who share his changed point of view.

Bush Hatred

Those who express hatred for Bush usually cite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A few elitists cite his manner of speaking and other irrelevancies. I think they were/are wrong about the wars. Every U.S. intelligence agency believed there were WMD in Iraq which Hussein was in position to use against his neighbors and U.S. interests in the Middle East. That same intelligence knew that perpetrators of the 9/11 attack (i.e., Islamic extremists sponsored by al-Qaeda) on the Trade Center, Pentagon and their abortive attempt to attack other DC targets had come from the Middle East and had trained in Afghanistan as well as here. I find it interesting that we have not had another successful attack since 9/11 except that of the Islamic extremist LTC at Fort Hood. Do you think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had anything to do with that ?

Friday, May 07, 2010

BP Oil Spill Update

It's now obvious that the event was triggered by a malfunctioning Blowout Preventor, a device designed to pinch the well stem shut to stop the flow of oil and gas if well pressure reaches a critical level. This did not happen, resulting in an upward flow of petroleum gas and liquids under too much pressure for the system and platform equipment to handle. A source of ignition on the platform caused the gas/liquid mixture to explode and destroy the platform killing 11 BP workers.

Efforts to cap the well have proven to be fruitless so far and the well continues to dump an estimated 210,000 gals./day of oil into the Gulf. A few tar balls have come ashore in Louisiana and on beaches in neighboring Mississippi and Alabama. So far, easterly winds have kept the spill from severely damaging beaches along the Florida panhandle and west coast. It is also well north of the so-called "loop current" that could carry the spill into the Gulfstream that forms off Florida's southern tip. Obviously, those conditions could change at any moment, which worries many Floridians, especially those whose livelihoods depend on fishing and tourism.

Reactions to the BP Spill

It didn't take long for the politicians and environmental activists to use the BP oil spill to yell for a stoppage of any plans to drill offshore for more oil in Florida waters and elsewhere around the world. It has also given a push to supporters of so-called "cap & trade" legislation to divert our efforts to the development of renewable energy sources. Cooler heads appreciate the fact we need to encourage more offshore drilling or face increases in all fuel costs that will threaten further the nation's economy. We must be willing to accept the risks inherent in all drilling operations or else be prepared soon to pay as much as $10.00/gal. at the pump.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

BP Platform Explosion

The explosion aboard the BP platform, its distruction and leakage of oil into Gulf of Mexico waters off Louisiana leaves many unanswered questions---what caused the explosion, why didn't auto-shutoff valves work to close off oil flow from the well(s), was sabotage involved and if so, who were the perpetrators?---are just a few.

As one with more than 30 years experience in the oil industry, I have great difficulty believing the event was accidental. There have been minor accidents including small fires on platforms in the Gulf in the past, but to my knowledge never an explosion and its aftermath like that of the BP unit off Louisiana. There are a reported 3,400 active wells and platforms in the Gulf which underscores the likelihood of such an event being more than a simple accident.

The Aftermath

Many in the news media have likened the BP event to the Exxon Valdez accident. The main similarity is the potential damage to the environment and fishing industries. Another similarity is the time taken by the Coast Guard to get oil booms into place to help contain the spills. It took days in the Valdez case and many critical hours in the BP spill. We know what caused the Exxon Valdez event but other than the explosion and fire, we still lack detailed information on the BP spill. Having recently travelled the Prince William Sound area, I can attest to the fact that except for some oil staining of rocks along the shoreline, the environment is back to normal. Fishing is back up to normal except for herring which are one of the primary food sources for larger fish in the area. I was told that herring are back up some distance away from the Sound but are being eaten by larger fish before they can reach the Sound. Bird, seal and whale populations are back up as well.

BP Spill Damage

So long as the oil can be kept out of the bayous, damage to shrimp and close in fisheries could be relatively light compared to Valdez. Fisheries out further into the area of the spill have likely suffered more severely and the timing of their recovery will depend on how soon the spill itself can be stopped and other measures now being used can get rid of the oil. Containment and absorption booms now being deployed out from the beaches along the Gulf Coast with the West Coast of Florida and the Keys likely to follow, should minimize beach damage should the spill move with the Gulfstream. Meanwhile, the silo-like device BP is moving into place to "cap" the well stem should stop the flow into the water of the Gulf once it is solidly in place.