Guest Blogger – Joe Marcolivio: Commercial Diver in the oil rig business
It will be tough to remove the putrid taste in your mouth about the oil business after an April 20 explosion rocked the offshore drilling platform of the Deepwater Horizon off the Louisiana coast sending a column of fire into the sky. The rig has now sunk off the the Gulf of Mexico – 11 missing.
The knee jerk response would be to cease offshore drilling to save the environment. But in reality, due to the world’s reliance on oil to create the variety of products mentioned in previous blogs it has driven exploratory companies to go farther and deeper. Easy oil has already been found. Off shore drilling is not done haphazardly. Look at the multiple millions invested in just this one project ($700 million to build the Deepwater Horizon and approximately a quarter of a million dollars per hour to operate)
Everyone wants to enact new safety regulations, but the fact remains the oil industry is one of the most regulated businesses already. The more that regulations are enforced on our oil companies it tends to drive a lot of the business to third world countries where enforcement tends to be lax. An example: There was a recent incident where a Chinese freighter hauling fuel traveled 8 miles outside the shipping lanes and ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef. The spill was enormous. The cause has been proven to be crew error.
This brings us back to what happened on the Deepwater Horizon. This was an exploratory rig not a production platform. They had a blowout (which resulted from drilling into a pocket of natural gas) followed by a minor explosion. Because there was a lag between the first and second explosion, logic would say that the crew thought they had the situation in hand. However the pocket of gas that they hit was so intense it overcame their back up safety systems resulting in the second fatal explosion.
However, if we stop drilling what are we going to do?