I was reading a short blurb in FortBendNow, you can read it here, that Texas Senator John Cornyn and my CD-22 congressman, Pete Olson, are setting up to attack the Obama Administration’s 6-month deepwater oil drilling moratorium.
They plan to visit a semi-submersible drill ship that is currently standing at idle in the Texas deepwater, and then a local Stafford family-owned drilling tool maker.
It’s painfully transparent that this investigative tour to “take a look at the impact the Obama Administration’s deepwater drilling moratorium is having on local small businesses, jobs, the local economy, and our nation’s energy security” is nothing more than an exercise in the “politics of No” for local consumption.
“Following the rig tour, Cornyn and Olson will visit Stafford small business Sunbelt Machine Works Corp., which manufactures tools for the oil and gas industry and stands to suffer layoffs and significant setbacks due to the moratorium. Family-owned Sunbelt Machine Works currently employs a staff of 70. Sunbelt has already been forced to cut back hours and productivity as a result of the moratorium, according to a Cornyn and Olson.”
It’s a pretty stunning thing to say that cutbacks in the hours and productivity of a local family-owned business should be given the same weight and consideration as the issue of uncertainty of whether the major oil companies have a plan on what to do when a deepwater well blows out. It should be very clear to all of us by now that they haven’t had a plan, still don’t have a plan, and we don’t know when or whether they will have a workable plan in the future.
Russian Roulette is a game of chance played with one live round and six empty chambers, and that is the game that Cornyn and Olson want us to play with the 11th largest body of water on the face of the earth. Truth is, we now know that it was only a matter of time that a blowout on the order of the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout would occur.
I would also remind Olson that even his congressional leader, John Boehner, agrees that “maybe there is a reason there to pause till we know what happened and we can make sure we can prevent it again.”
Yes he did say that.
How long should the “pause” be? To my mind, 6 months is too arbitrary, and to put a finite time limit to it at this stage of the game seems unreasonable. How long should the “pause” be? It should be long enough to come to correct conclusions on the cause of the blowout, formulation of reasonable contingency plans should one occur again, with once more being too many, and engineering and manufacture of blowout preventers that can reliably operate in high pressure low temperature conditions in a failsafe manner. Currently blowout preventers, the ultimate well control device, are not 100% reliable in the most benign environment, and less so at extreme water depths and pressures. Indeed, one thing that can be predicted as an offshoot of this disaster is that blowout preventers will be redesigned as predicted by Paul Bommer, a UT petroleum engineering professor quoted here:
“…one thing is fairly certain. The Gulf oil spill will probably result in a "re-design" of BOPs, said UT's Bommer, as well as an overhaul of how they're tested and activated”
Leaving us with the plight of businesses that deal exclusively with deepwater oil exploration and production. What lessons should they take from this? Simply this: if your business depends on a special area of the oil business like the Gulf of Mexico deepwater, that is, if you put all of your eggs in one basket, take a lesson from the words of a great American, Mark Twain:
“Put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket.”
But the Republican plan seems to be to “watch that basket” by letting oil companies resume deepwater drilling before anyone is ready.
And that serves no one but the demagogues and lapdogs of the oil industry.