Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: Does Industry care more for $ than the Environment?

Gulf of Mexico Oil SpillThe recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill on April 20th 2010, a result of a massive British Petroleum (BP) operated oil rig blast off the coast of Louisana, USA  may prove to be the biggest oil spill disaster in history, paling the Exxon Valdez incident in Alaska twenty years ago.  Oil Spills are extremely destructive to oceans and marine life.

Huffington Post uncovered several documents showing that oil companies fell short of safety standards on oil rigs. In their article, ” Big Oil Fought Off New Safety Rules Before Rig Explosion” , it is reported that,

Relatives of workers who are presumed dead claim that the oil behemoth BP and rig owner TransOcean violated “numerous statutes and regulations” issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, according to a lawsuit filed by Natalie Roshto, whose husband Shane, a deck floor hand, was thrown overboard by the force of the explosion and whose body has not yet been located.

BP and TransOcean have also aggressively opposed new safety regulations proposed last year by a federal agency that oversees offshore drilling — which were prompted by a study that found many accidents in the industry.

Both companies failed to provide a competent crew, failed to properly supervise its employees and failed to provide Rushto with a safe place to work, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The lawsuit also names oil-services giant Halliburton as a defendant, claiming that the company “prior to the explosion, was engaged in cementing operations of the well and well cap and, upon information and belief, improperly and negligently performed these duties, which was a cause of the explosion.”

More details about the scale of this disaster, and the negligence of the oil operator is here in the video:

Here is an excerpt from the award winning Documentary, “Out of Balance” about Exxon Mobil’s Impact on Climate Change. The environmental impact of the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in 1989 is felt to this day.


Asia hasn’t been spared from oil spills. Last year, Timor Sea experienced a massive oil spill as reported in Asia Sentinel:

The West Atlas deep sea oil rig, operated by PTTEP Australasia, a unit of the Thailand state-owned PTT Exploration & Production PLC, blew out on August 21 and the crew abandoned the rig because of the fire. According to news sources, it has leaked more than 400,000 liters of oil, gas and condensate into the Timor Sea at a rate reported as being from 300 to 1,200 barrels a day, and now covers an area estimated at 6,000 square kilometers.

The massive economic growth in South East Asia in the last few decades has seen a steady increase in ocean traffic. As South China Sea.org , a think tank which studies development vs environment issues in the region says:

As countries around the South China Sea expand their economies and consume more fossil fuel resources, they also produce more pollution. Many of these countries are now making important decisions about technology and infrastructure with critical implications for long-term environmental change. Many of them face competitive market pressures to produce at the lowest, short-term cost possible. In as much as governments compete with each other for investment in an increasingly integrated world economy, they are reluctant to impose costly regulations to maintain environmental standards which might discourage investment and output. From the individual national, short-term view, pollution control programs may hinder economic performance and increase consumer prices. Nations that do impose charges on polluters are thought to give business enterprises an incentive to relocate in countries with more lenient standards. As a result, many environmental pollution problems are often overshadowed by concerns over economic growth.

The recent oil spill off the shores of Singapore on 25th May, 2010, a result of the collision of two oil tankers, resulted in about 2,500 tonnes of crude oil leaking into the sea and reaching the eastern shores of Changi, Tanah Merah and the biodiverse ecosystems of Chek Jawa at Pulau Ubin.  With heavy marine traffic along the Straits, such an accident was waiting to happen.


Other important Links:

EWTT:  What can shore lovers do about the oil spill in Singapore?
The Independent : Oil spill creates huge ‘undersea’ dead zones
Wikipedia: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill which has still not been paid for
Foreign Policy : The Biggest Oil Spills in History
OceanWorld: Sources of Oil Pollution
Mongabay: The Gulf Oil Spill in context : US oil consumption


Our individual collective actions also contribute to the degradation of the oceans. Oil spills receive a lot of media attention, but what goes largely unnoticed is the amount of oil, paint, plastic and sewage that goes into our oceans every day that are volumes larger than even the biggest oil slicks.  Here are 100 ways to make a difference to our oceans.



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Posted by on May 3 2010. Filed under World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

3 Comments for “Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: Does Industry care more for $ than the Environment?”

  1. I’m just sick to my stomach by this disaster. Where can I find an realistic assessment of the accurate size of the spill? The assessments are widely different from different sources. Thanks for your interesting post.

  2. Thanks Krystyna, According this Reuters piece, “Estimates of how much oil and other compounds are coming from the ruptured BP wellhead have varied widely. The company initially put the leak at 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons/795,000 litres) a day but some published estimates have ranged to 70,000 barrels (2.9 million gallons/11 million litres) or more daily.”
    estimates have ranged to 70,000 barrels (2.9 million gallons/11 million litres) or more daily.” http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N23194537.htm

    This video on Current shows it could be 25,000 to 80,000 barrels a day http://current.com/news/92446193_scientists-say-size-of-bp-oil-spill-underestimated.htm

  3. It’s hard to believe we are nearly 2 months into this oil spill and nothing has been accomplished yet. Un-freakin-believable. The top brass at BP needs run out of town ASAP!!

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