Beyond Petroleum and Beyond Power

What a difference eighteen months can make. In July 2010 the United States was gunning for BP; President Obama had decided to call it, with a sneer in his voice, British Petroleum (nothing to do with me, Governor) and claiming billions of dollars as compensation for the oil spill in the Gulf of México known as Deepwater Horizon. Today BP, having paid much of the damages (although I am not terribly confident that the money has cascaded down to those who really suffered) BP declares profits for the last quarter of 2011 of $7.6 billion. The profits for the like period in 2010 were $4,6 billion. Continue reading

Giving the EPA more powers does not threaten the Constitution

Some folks in the United States of America are getting upset about measures which are proposed to give the Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA) more authority to grant permits and regulation greenhouse gas emissions. It is claimed that not only would these measures bring an end to economic activity as we know it, but that they would also threaten the constitutional separation of powers. Continue reading

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water…

A year ago most of us were concerned by the 4.9 million barrels (205.8 million gallons) of oil spillage in the Gulf of México. Today there is little news on the spillage. The Gulf has absorbed much of the oil, much of it has been dispersed by chemicals and much cleaned up from the sea shore. It seems some of the marine life is safe and prospering; although in certain cases there has been irremediable damage to the environment. Continue reading

What happened to the oil and gas released at Deepwater Horizon?

The Gulf of México is a very large body of water and for most of us thousands of miles away. With all of the scandal presently occupying the public about the papers, the politicians and the policemen, it is easy to forget that for three months just more than a year ago the Deepwater Horizon’s well leaked what turned out to be more than four million barrels of gas, oil and similar hydrocarbon substances into the Gulf of México. What has become of it? Continue reading

The Gulf of Mexico one year after the oil spillage

A year on from the 200 million gallon oil spillage in the Gulf of México reports are that the fish numbers have increased, and the fishing is better than ever. Shark populations have increased threefold, reef figures by twofold and shrimp numbers have doubled. Continue reading

BP – an unethical investment

Thursday’s Annual General Meeting of BP in London was a lively affair. It seems that some shareholders, who have travelled a great distance to attend the meeting, were not allowed in; that is a disgrace and contrary to the rules governing AGMs. Directors of huge multinationals like BP insulate themselves from the shareholders they serve. The only opportunity that an ordinary shareholder has to see a director and ask questions is the AGM. Large funds get whatever access they need to directors of BP. A shrimp fisherman who has bought a few shares to attend the AGM and travelled from the Gulf of México is ignored, rather like the former Chief Executive of BP who said that he would quite like to get his life back, to which someone responded they would like to get the life of a brother back. Continue reading

The Gulf of Mexico is becoming a sea desert

We do not know the full effects of the Deepwater  Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of México. Most of the surface oil deposits have been cleaned up and many of the coats have been cleaned up, but we cannot clean up the deep part of the ocean and indeed we are only just beginning to see how the oil spillage has affected the life that lives in this part of the ocean, known as the benthos.

Sea cucumbers, worms corals and sea fans all live on the ocean floor, but living on the ocean floor eating detritus is hard to do if the ocean floor is covered with a layer of oil, some of which is 10 cm (two and a half inches) thick in places. The benthos plants and animals die.

Having died those forms of life that eat the benthos life cannot find food and they themselves die. When Professor Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia had a look at the sea floor at depth using the Alvin submersible instead of seeing the usual life forms that live at depths they saw…no sign of life.

Once a link of the food chain is removed the remaining links higher in the chain have to find alternative food or die; there is usually no alternative food and this means over the next few years the Gulf Of México, described by BP as a big body of water which will recover from the oil spill by the end of next year, could be a sea desert.