I’ve been thinking about oil. Actually I’ve been thinking about the Gulf oil disaster, a sudden up tick in media events, “developments,” spin, BP and the Beverly Hillbillies. We are now at almost sixty days (or two months) of Horizon Deepwater’s spewing its vile venom into the Gulf of Mexico. I call it “vile venom” because the oil is flowing pretty much unrestrained into the pristine waters of the Gulf. The Gulf waters around the offshore rigs were hardly pristine, but the word suits the mood now and besides it makes for more sensationalism. Word choice doesn’t help the pelicans, the dolphins, the shrimp, or the whales, but it sure jazzes up the copy on the Teleprompters and in the news stories.
You see we are deeply in a tarry sludge and the depth and severity of the problems worsen by the day. There is literally no end in sight. I know that the problem is NOT subsiding by what we are being selectively told in the press releases. We now even have a moratorium on all flights (except for military and oil company planes) over the offshore drilling zone. The bulk of the Gulf fishing fleet is confined to port. This is no accident either as neither BP nor the Obama Administration wants the public to see the extent of the growing sub surface orange colored goop which is now making landfall --- or at least congregating in massive pools just offshore from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
The problem is bad and visible enough that environmental groups are now flying kites with cameras from the beaches to get aerial images. From day one, BP was mixing massive quantities of a highly toxic dispersant (Corexit EC9527A --- 30-60% 2-Butoxyethanol by weight) into the crude gusher one mile below the surface. This would not cause the leaked oil to go away, trust me, but it would keep it a few feet under water for a couple of months which is all both BP and Uncle $ugar wanted at the time. The Corexit is far more toxic to marine life than the crude it is “dispersing.” Now that the oil and chemical sludge is reaching our shorelines, more spin and “explanations” are desperately needed. It won’t help..., but it takes the focus away from the real problems and issues --- that is if the “explanations” appear credible, and are in point of fact true and honest.
President Obama made his fourth pilgrimage to the Gulf Coast on Monday. He will return to DC on Tuesday and host his first televised infomercial about this Gulf Chernobyl on Tuesday evening. Later in the week, he will have his first face-to-face with BP executives. He needs to have similar summits, with the poobahs from Halliburton, and Transoceanic as well. The BP executives will once again be paraded before a Congressional committee. Just what will all this accomplish? Not much!!! Still there will be the perception that something is being done and that our government is in control. Remember that this is an election year!!! Will we be told that the mega MILLION gallon “leak” will be contained shortly, that we won’t see progress until August, that a shut down won’t occur until after Christmas, or that the fix will not occur until next March? In the doomsday scenario, the leaking won’t stop until the field plays out. By that time, the slick will have crossed the Atlantic and the Brits will be singing about the “orange” cliffs of Dover. I doubt we will be told that the nuclear option of exploding a “clean” nuclear bomb on the site is now on the table and is being heavily debated? Or... will we be told of a BP bailout by Uncle $ugar (meaning the American taxpayers)? Any leaks and spin are possible at this point.
BP is a huge company --- # 3 of the global energy giants. Their nnual sales approach a quarter TRILLION, and the profits (after selected preferential accounting treatments) approach $17 BILLION. BP’s brands include BP, Arco, AMPM, Castrol, Aral, and Wild Bean Café. Don’t forget that is was only a few years back that BP took over Amoco Oil, the last surviving full blow operating component of the Standard Oil behemoth of John D. Rockefeller’s “creation.” BP is in working partnerships with too many corporations to even list. Then too, we have NOT been told what BP pays to the US each year in its leasehold fees, its true political contributions, and its total lobbying efforts. The costs of the Horizon nightmare will run in the mega BILLIONS. The current guestimate of $23 BILLION will not even be close. We will know how gargantuan the amount is when they tell us a BP bankruptcy is in the works, or that Uncle $ugar is putting together a bailout. Meanwhile Exxon, and Royal Dutch Shell are salivating...
Oil is a critical component of what “drives” this nation. Like it or not, we need a steady and economic flow of crude oil and distillates to get, and to keep our US economy moving. As a child I watched the Beverly Hillbillies TV show and even memorized the opening song. We appear to need to update the lyrics: “Oil that is... Black Gold, Texas Tea, and (now) Gulf Sludge.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This story was published on June 14, 2010.