‘Encounters’ and ‘Keystone Kops’

July 15, 2012

Fog fairly thick this morning along California’s northern coast, listening to the TV as I work my laptop — nubile financial expert Paul Ryan on ‘Face the Nation‘ and blubber-blundering about Mitt Romney’s nefarious everything this past week, though, he just can’t comment on the obvious lying and spinning.

Turnabout is not necessarily fair play  — One such nasty piece of business this past week was Shell Oil’s admission that drilling in the Arctic is an way-expensive nasty piece of business.
Shell has already started a legalese-big spin on the immeasurable hazard of rooting around with a high pollutant in a much-inhospitable environment.
Danger, Will Robinson — Bullshit-meter warning light!

(Illustration found here).

In getting required drilling permits, Shell has spun off the words for clean-up and the percentage thereof into a more wide-ranging, more neutral form of mopping up an accident.
Shell won’t necessarily ‘collect‘ but  ‘encounter‘ an oil spill.
Via Think Progress:

“They have a miniscule number of boats compared to what was available in the Gulf of Mexico,” [Peter Van Tuyn, and environmental lawyer in Anchorage] says, and in the Gulf, “they didn’t have to deal with the extreme weather conditions that we’ve got in the Arctic.” High winds are the norm, and sea ice is always a possible hazard, “and yet they [Shell] claim they can collect as much as 95 percent.”
Merrell (Geoff Merrell, Shell’s superintendent for emergency response in Alaska) says the company has made no such claim.
Instead, he says, the oil company’s plan is to confront 95 percent of the oil out in the open water, before it comes ashore.
That doesn’t mean responders can collect what they encounter.
“Because the on-scene conditions can be so variable, it would be rather ridiculous of us to make any kind of performance guarantee,” Merrell says.

Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith said opposition groups are purposely mischaracterizing Shell’s oil spill response plan.
The plan does not claim Shell can clean up 90 percent of an oil spill, he said.
“We say in our plan we expect to ‘encounter’ 90 percent of any discharge on site — very close to the drilling rig,” he said.
“We expect to encounter 5 percent near-shore between the drilling rig and the coast.
And we expect to encounter another 5 percent on shore.
We never make claims about the percent we could actually recover, because conditions vary, of course.”

Ridiculous, of course — WTF!

The spin/word-shift is an attempt to block incompetent handling of a dangerous operation.
Just this morning, a near-miss-f*ck-up with a drilling platform/vessel.
Via ABC News:

A Shell Oil drilling vessel slipped it anchorage Saturday and began moving toward shore in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands before it was re-anchored, the Coast Guard said.
The Nobel Discoverer got within 500 feet of an island near Dutch Harbor in Unalaska Bay, raising concerns of grounding.
But crews were apparently able to move the 571-foot vessel farther off shore and re-anchor it before that occurred, Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Sara Francis said.
“They (crew members) did not feel any bumps, or that it touched anything,” she said.
“There were no reports of any injuries, pollution or damage to the vessel.”

This Discoverer is the one Shell can’t get a handle on, apparently both literally and emissions-wise.
On Friday, the oil giant hit the US EPA in a last-minute revision in its air emissions permits, conceding it has not been able to meet all of the rigorous standards required for the main generator on the drill bit for its Chukchi Sea drilling rig, the Discoverer.
Expensive as shit, too.
From the LA Times link above:

Just how difficult it has been to comply with the stringent permit requirements was clear this week in the company’s application, which documented how Shell has spent millions of dollars acquiring new technology for the 514-foot Discoverer’s main drilling generator and engaged in the difficult task of installing it on old engines, installed far below deck.
When one $24-million system didn’t work as well as had been hoped, the company spent another $7 million installing another, according to the application.
“This reflects an extraordinary level of effort, especially when one considers that the annual emissions from the diesel generators are on the order of 10 tons,” the company said in its filing.

A crap-shoot at best.
Meanwhile, to utilize/bastardize Romney’s horrid sound byte, ‘Oil Companies are assholes, my friend,’ the nasty tar sands oil pipeline rupture on Michigan’s Kalamazoo River two years ago is still bubbling into the news cycle.
Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board released its report on the incident and tore Canadian pipeline company Enbridge a new asshole — the company knew of problems — corrosion, cracks, and thinning metal in the pipeline — since at least 2004. and compared Enbridge’s response to the spill in way-sarcastic terms.

Via Mother Jones:

Board members also accused the Calgary-based company of botching their response to the oil spill, allowing more than 1 million gallons of crude to gush into the Kalamazoo River.
“When we were examining Enbridge’s poor handling to their response to this rupture you can’t help but think of the Keystone Cops,” the board chairperson, Deborah Hersman, said.
It took 17 hours before the company took action—despite multiple alarms, and reports from the public of a strong gas smell.
“Why didn’t they recognise what was happening and what took so long?” she said.

Earlier this month, Enbridge was fined the $3.7 million by the US DOT for the spill — the largest such fine in US history.
And like the EPA’s laxation with Shell Oil, federal regulators were at fault in that they never fully reviewed or drilled the company on its spill response plan.
Although the spill has supposedly been cleaned up, and in June the Kalamazoo River was opened for swimming, boating and fishing, small traces of oil were found last week downriver from the original site.
Officials don’t know if it’s Enbridge oil or not, but WTF.

These ugly incidents more fully brings to light the horrible, suicidal circle of death in the extracting and burning of oil in our civilization, all just as the US is caught in record-setting drought, heat waves, rain deluges and all other kinds of extreme weather events, a preview of what climate change (fueled by these oil-burning emissions) brings to our future.
In the Arctic, the region has already reached that nefarious epic level of 400 ppm, even without Shell Oil spinning bullshit on the road to the over-heating of the rest of the planet — instead of scrambling around searching for more ways to fry our lives, the powers that be should be way-seeking ways to either find alternative sources, or adapt to the horror to come.
Nobody’s doing anything at all on anything except on the scrambling around part.
On top of that, all this above-mentioned scrambling around is all for naught — the earth’s resource of oil is now beyond the easy and it’s all hard-shit work from here on out, no matter the political spin.

Yesterday, I once again put another $20 worth of gas in my old Jeep with the price still hanging at $3.99 a gallon for regular — the pump prices up here seem to freeze at certain levels, not much play in the numbers.
Nationwide, after a drop, pump prices are reviving: After declining for 11 weeks in a row, gas prices have started back up — rising about 5 cents a gallon in the past week to $3.38 a gallon.
Oil is mankind’s fatal drug.

Tom Whipple, a retired government analyst who now scrutinizes peak oil issues, takes a looks at the reality of the suicidal approach of ‘keeping on, keeping on‘ at the current pace, but like a shitload of other things nowadays, the picture ain’t pretty at all.

So where does our oil crisis fit into all of this?
First, ignore the stories that have been filling the media of late as to how there is no longer an American energy crisis.
The stories say that the genius of American industry has figured out how to frack so much oil and gas out of North Dakota and other shale deposits that the US will soon be energy independent and exporting the stuff all over the world.
Needless to say, numerous people who understand the numbers have torn this cornucopian drivel to shreds as most of these stories ignore or gloss over the 3 or 4 million b/d of new production that must found each year to offset the declines from existing fields amongst other fallacious logic.
Fracked tight oil from shale deposits will slow the rate of decline in global oil production a bit but will never offset the loss of production from the world’s giant oil fields currently underway and likely to accelerate.
The problems of fracking and difficulty and expense of producing oil and gas from fracked wells that run dry far more quickly than conventional wells simply will not produce enough oil to run civilization as we know it today.
We must look for other solutions and the quicker the better for unless there is record-breaking depression in the offing and the Middle East is settled peaceably, we are only a few years away from much higher oil prices and even scarcity.

At some point, and that day is not far away, it will be recognized that the economic growth as we have come to know it in recent years is no longer possible and the search for other lifestyles will begin in earnest.
Some may even come to understand that the peak oil crisis may already be all around us and we are simply not recognizing it for what it is.

Another view via Fabius Maximus, though differing slightly, still ain’t pretty:

The faster we prepare, the easier the transition will be to peak oil.
Other nations already have strong programs in motion to prepare for peak oil.
We are among the world’s laggards.
Civilization will continue even if America falters as a result of peak oil, just as it survived the fall of the Spanish Empire.
We have the ability to adapt, but so far lack the will and awareness of the need.

Although one poll earlier this month indicated US peoples think climate change is the third-biggest environmental problem behind water and air pollution, while another suggested that even if it’s indeed getting hotter and people know it’s climate change: At the same time, 60 percent of those polled say it will be extremely or very difficult for people to stop it.

And that’s an encounter we could live without, even with some slap-stick comedy.

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