Following the huge explosion and sinking of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico there are a number of severe, ongoing environmental issues. After the still burning rig sank on the 22nd, two days after the explosion, a 600 mile wide area of crude oil began to appear 36 miles off the Louisiana coast. 5000ft under water a well is releasing a staggering 191,000 litres of crude oil into the ocean on a daily basis; the implications of this are overwhelming and it is vital that something is done to rectify the problem as soon as possible. Plans are underway to plummet unmanned robots into the ocean with which it will be possible to activate the ‘blow out preventer’, which would shut off the well. The process would take between 24 and 36 hours to complete and even then there is no guarantee they will be successful.
In the case of failure further plans have been drawn out to drill a number of relief wells to permanently secure the well, however this will take several months to complete during which time a specialised heavy fluid will be injected to stop the flow of oil or gas and allow the relief wells to be drilled.
Since the explosion on the 20th of April there are still eleven workers missing, who are presumed to have been killed in the disaster which left seventeen others injured. It is because of both the tragic loss of life, which leaves eleven families blind to the fate of their loved ones, and the huge negative impact on the environment which is still happening, which makes this one of America’s worst offshore catastrophes in the last forty years. The biggest worry for the future is the effect the oil will have on the land if or when it reaches it.
There is some good news, well, good news for those who own the environmentally damaging company; they have announced a 135% improvement in their profits in the first 3 months of 2010 they announced profits of $5.2 bn which has risen from 2.4bn a year ago. I’m sure this will serve as a bitter tonic for the families of those who died to increase the profits of a heartless company.
Former Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer has said several times, the era of “easy oil” is over. It makes you wonder how far we are willing to go to gain oil. How much of the environment will we destroy in order to find this precious substance? How many lives will be lost due to these accidents?