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The Expansionist
Monday, July 19, 2010
 
Lies Per Square Inch. Blowhard British Petroleum is one of the world's biggest producers of lies and nonsense. Everything it has done in the nearly three months since the Deepwater Horizon oilrig explosion and resulting undersea oil eruption started, has been idiotic, and the company's public-relations strategy has been to divert attention from obvious questions rather than answer them. The Obama Administration, caught flatfooted with a regulatory agency that did not have the expertise to regulate intelligently and decisively, pre-empting the feeble and incompetent response of a private, and FOREIGN, corporation, has played pattycake with BP in fouling the Gulf Coast and putting forward absurdly inadequate countermeasures.
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Now BP is pretending that the wisest course is to keep the cap that finally stopped the massive eruption of oil, in place until the well beneath it can be sealed off. What kind of idiot would stop a producing oil well, whose structure is already in place and is already almost certainly better understood than any other on Earth?
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BP knows that there is a big oil reservoir in that location. BP, or some other oil company, will want to drain it of its Black Gold. So why would they want to "kill" it and have to drill ANOTHER well into that same oilfield?
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The present cap has four valves that can carry crude oil out from the wellbore into waiting ships. Isn't that what any oil platform would do, direct oil into tankers? Or perhaps into a pipeline to containers and/or refineries onshore? The well is drilled. It has produced oil. Oh, brother, has it produced oil. So what possible good-faith reason could British Petroleum have for not taking the oil from the well already drilled, and putting it into the world's oil-supply pipeline?
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BP pretends that in order to connect, to the cap, the floating pipes that lead up to the surface, they would have to open the cap for three days. That cannot be true. MSNBC's oil expert says he knows of no reason such a thing would have to be done, inasmuch as there are already valves built into the cap for up to four lines. Those valves are presumably DESIGNED to accept hoses/pipes and open into those pipes once they are connected. So there would be NO need to open the top of the cap, in anyplace but the valves. BP is lying.
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Think about the "pressure" excuse. Pressure means nothing unless it is confined. A pipe from the surface to the wellcap would at most have only the pressure of a column of water in the pipe itself. Water does not keep oil from rising, so a rising column of oil would simply push the water out of the way, with only such pressure as the column of water itself constitutes, and only for that short time, a matter of what? 90 seconds?, before the oil reaches the surface. If that water-column pressure were dangerous, the pipe could be EMPTIED of water before the oil started to flow. Then there would be NO confinement, and only the relatively trivial outward pressure of a rush of oil almost all of whose pressure is directed upward, thru an empty pipe, to the surface. If at the surface it is not confined either, but flows without opposition into a waiting tanker, there is NO pressure problem whatsoever.
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It is essentially impossible to believe anything but that the real reason BP wants to "kill" an oil-producing well rather than collect oil from it, which is the very PURPOSE of oilwells, is that if it starts to harvest oil from that wellbore, there would be an accurate count of how much oil is presently coming out. From that, the wildly varying estimates that have been bandied about, of oil flow in the time the well was pouring oil into the sea, could be firmed up from what is MEASURED as the oil pours into tankers. From that measured flow, mathematicians, working backward, would be able to calculate the outpour thru all the days of various caps and no-caps, and come up with a reasonable estimate of how many barrels of oil BP permitted to foul the Gulf. And each such barrel would produce a fine of $4,300. The total estimated fine I have heard is about $20 billion.
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If, however, BP is permitted to "kill" a producing well solely to destroy the evidence of the size of its misdeeds, then the Government can only ASSERT a best-guess, and BP can counter with its own massively understated 'estimates'. The Government says 60,000 barrels a day; BP says a barrel and a half; and we are to draw a compromise figure midway between the Government's and company's estimates: 30,000 barrels a day. No.
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$20B sounds like an astounding amount of money. And it is, except for a company of British Petroleum's size. BP had revenues last year of $74.4 billion. Its profits for full-year 2009, as reported on its own website, were $14 billion, "down 45 per cent on the record full year profit of 2008". If I have done my math right, and $14B = 55% of 2008 profits, then 2008 profits were $25.45B. A news story says BP's 2008 profit was actually $25.6 billion. I don't know why there's the discrepancy ($14 (billion) divided by 55 = 0.2545, times 100 = $25.45 (billion). Tho $0.15 may not seem like a big discrepancy, if you put "billion" by it, it becomes $150 million, a nice chunk of change. I could live on that for over a year!
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BP already forwent one quarter's profit payout to shareholders, in creating the $20B trust fund for compensation to Gulf Coast residents injured by its oil spill. If it had to forgo another three, or even four quarters of profit payout to shareholders, BP itself would easily survive as a corporate entity. The people, mainly in Britain, whose retirement income is partly dependent upon BP payouts could suffer, unless the retirement fund in which they are invested unloads BP stock for something deemed more solid. Still, BP's prospects beyond this momentary catastrophe are good. What major transnational oil company has bad prospects?
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Plainly it makes best economic sense now simply to regard the Deepwater Horizon well, as capped, as a well in regular production, and sell its production on the open market. Thus BP's economic self-interest would seem to require it to open the well to production. That would, incidentally, give us an actual measure of what is happening today.
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Is BP going to assert that a present, controlled flow is GREATER than the eruptive flow of the 85 (86?) days the well was uncontrolled? On what basis could BP make such a claim? If anything, the controlled flow into tankers would be LESS than the earlier, uncontrolled flow, if the reservoir has been at all significantly drained, as would reduce the upward pressure on what remains.
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The Government of the United States must not permit BP to get away with "killing" a producing well that is 'well' controlled, instead to tap into that very same reserve by means of other wells that use the same kind of "blowout preventer" (it is to laff!) that failed in the Deepwater Horizon well, and which could ALSO fail, presenting a whole new problem! You don't plug a producing well, if your purpose is to produce oil. You harvest the oil that comes out of it. That's what oilwells are for. You never drill an oilwell just to seal it.
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The Obama Administration does indeed face a second "Katrina" in the Gulf Coast region. It must not let the people of the Gulf down, but must have their back and be their champion. And not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is the wise thing to do in a midterm election year. Tell them,
The Republicans gave you lax regulation. They told you that 'regulation' is a bad word, and that enlightened self-interest will always ensure that corporations behave in everybody's best interest. What a bunch of bull. It is that baloney that produced the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. And because the regulatory environment of the Bush years gave us a regulator that did not have the expertise it should have had, and the ability to leap into action the instant a crisis occurred, we were unable to step in and control operations in the first 24 hours after the blast. We had to acquire the expertise that should always have been in the hands of the regulators but which the Republicans didn't want regulators to have. We did acquire that expertise, but it took weeks, wasted weeks we shouldn't have had to waste, and wouldn't have had to waste if the regulatory authority under the Republican Administration that preceded us was robust and familiar with the state of the art in deepsea oil-drilling.

We also got BP to set aside $20 billion to compensate you for the harm they've done. No Democrat apologized to BP for insisting it set up a compensation fund — which some Republicans slanderously called a "slush fund" — for YOU. Now we're going to see that you get every dime you're entitled to, because Democrats care about the little guy. Republicans care only about the big guys, the BP's of this world. BP can take care of itself. You, however, cannot protect yourselves against BP. That's what we're here for: a Democratic White House and Democratic Congress to tell BP that they don't own us, they don't control us. We work for the people, of the Gulf Coast and every other square inch of the Nation.

You know why we have Big Government? Because we have Big Corporations, corporations so large that the revenues of individual corporations are greater than the gross national product of entire countries. We never had such large corporations until recently, because we used to have rigorous enforcement of antitrust legislation, so no bank, no oil company, no any-kind-of-company could become "too big to fail". Now we've got to break up these huge, abusive corporations, within the United States, and forbid those based outside the United States from operating here, which will in itself induce many of them to spin-off many of their units into separate companies, which would give the whole world more competition, lower prices, and better services. We've got to make sure that no company thinks it can shut the people of the United States, acting thru their Government, out of the control structure that deals with major catastrophes such as the Gulf oil spill. And we've got to do a better job, from our own, in-house expertise, in handling such catastrophes, not rely upon what the offending corporation says is the best thing to do without being able to make our own independent evaluation of every single word they say.

We admit that we weren't prepared for this horrendous oil spill. But neither was British Petroleum. We held hearings in Congress that indicated that not one other major oil company, nor all of them put together, really knew how to deal with such a catastrophic event. Until they DO know how to handle such a thing, we cannot permit them to use inadequate technology with devices that have just PROVED defective, as might produce another Deepwater Horizon catastrophe — or two more, or three more, or a hundred more.

Are you so desperate for work that you would gladly see your shoreline coated in oil, your fishing and tourist industries destroyed, millions of pelicans, fish, crabs, dolphins, and other wild creatures killed in more catastrophic oil spills; and gladly smell toxic, and potentially cancer-causing fumes from omnipresent oil, every day for the rest of your (shortened) life, and the shortened lives of your children or grandchildren? We, Democrats, are guardians of your economic interests, to be sure. But we are also guardians of the beauty of the sea, the shore, the wetlands, the birds that fly over the sea, the fish within the sea, and the crabs and young creatures of a thousand species in the bayous and wetlands of the Gulf. Given a choice between a few thousand jobs in an occupation that is inherently dangerous to the environment, on the one side, and all the hundreds of thousands or millions of jobs that depend on the beauty and riches that nature bestows upon the people of the Gulf, on the other side, we will choose Nature's riches over technological disasters every time.

You may not have voted for us last time around. We hope you will, however, vote for us this time around, in November, so we can fite even harder and even more effectively, for YOU. Unlike Republicans, we have no trouble choosing between BP and you. We choose you. We'd sure appreciate it if you'd return the favor.
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,412 — for Israel.)



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