I’ve been thinking about stooges. Actually I’ve been thinking about US oil consumption, the Gulf “leak,” sensational reporting, the three executives, the blame game, Congress, and the oil business. The oil and gas just keeps on gushing from the unfortunate, yet deliberate, “accident” which occurred almost a month ago at British Petroleum’s Horizon Deepwater rig. The more we TH*NK we know, the more we realize we don’t have a clue how extensive and how bad the final outcome will be. Guesstimates of a daily leak of 5,000 barrels per day (roughly 250,000 gallons of crude per day) now appear to be a tad light. The oil slicks that are meandering across the blue waters of the Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico each now exceed ten miles in length. Where will they eventually make landfall? What will be the final or long term impact on the environment? Will the most recent clean up guesstimates of roughly $14 BILLION dollars be enough? Nobody at this point knows! And... the oil keeps on gushing.
You see we as a nation are being treated to the full theatre (of the politically correct indignation and outrage) of what I’ll call a “safe” mega media event in the ongoing news coverage of politics. I’m not saying the Horizon rig explosion, sinking, the loss of 11 lives, and the ongoing gushing of the crude “leak” is not a serious matter – far from that. But... remember how this is an election year and the back room feelings presently are that we could see a major shift of political party winners come November. The balance of power in Washington DC could change, the economy is far from recovering, unemployment stats continue to rise, the American people are hurting, deficits and debt are rising, and the unknowns are all growing. US/us needs a diversion from the overriding economic realities and the gargantuan disaster that is Horizon Deepwater I fear is being milked for the wrong reasons. And... the oil keeps on gushing.
US oil consumption has been fluctuating slightly downward within a narrow range due to our economic malaise. We are still consuming way too much energy, the oil companies are making a killing, gas is hovering at around $3.00 a gallon, and we haven’t seen the usual the summer spiking of energy prices. US oil production (which would include that from the Gulf of Mexico BP rig now sunk and “leaking”) has been holding steady, still we produce less than a third of what we are consuming. That factoid tells us that we are still importing TWO/THIRDS of the energy we need to keep us operating. It should be noted that this ratio has shifted from when TWO/THIRDS of our oil needs were domestically produced some thirty years ago when Jimmy Carter was the President. Yes... “Energy Independence” became a buzz word in our political vocabulary three decades ago and we are no better off today. We now have double the dependence! And... the oil keeps on gushing.
Our media is having a field day with this Gulf nightmare. Testimony before Congress by the responsible oil company exec, the rig’s owner rep, and the rig’s service provider dude left me TH*NK*NG of Curly, Larry, and Moe. When I watched the high church righteous indignation of the elected inquisitors, I thought that we need far more than THREE STOOGES to capture the magic of this moment. How much campaign money had those Congressional boys pocketed from the oil companies and the energy service providers? But... THAT issue was never raised in the media clips. We heard THREE STOOGES testifying “nyuck, nyuck, nyuck” their responses back to the Congressional inquisition. Funny how the Obama administration making/or not making a seven year safety award to this very rig never once surfaced. Any major expansion to our offshore drilling permits never came up either. Hummm... We did, however, see high definition pictures of the orange colored blobs floating towards Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Sixty Minutes’ Sunday broadcast an interview with a rig survivor who detailed how everyone knew the emergency shut down system was falling apart and safety alert panels were not functioning. A shutdown “fix” would have cost millions to the company that netted over $3 BILLION in the first quarter of 2010! And... the oil keeps on gushing.
We have already seen several Rube Goldberg contraptions hyped to stop the oil flow end in complete and absolute failure. The latest methodology being spun as the solution is the inserting of a six inch “straw” into the broken pipe casting and sucking up the leaking oil. Wow... they are stopping an estimated 20% of the oil flow with this – meaning that 80% is still gushing out. This story is going to be with us for a long, long time. I fear the American public is being played as the stooges. And... the oil keeps on gushing.
I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.
Copyright 2009 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at email@example.com.
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This story was published on May 17, 2010.