Links 6/15/10

Bullfighter arrested for fleeing ring BBC

Mars may have been 1/3 ocean? NetworkWorld

Overtreating earliest cancers — but which ones? PhysOrg

Protecting the Obama brand Joan Walsh, Salon (hat tip reader Marshall). Much tougher than the headline might lead you to think.

The assault on workers’ rights continues billy blog

Lobbyists Can’t Reach Lawmakers Wall Street Journal

Boxoffice futures market gets green light Hollywood Reporter (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

A House, Senate Showdown Looms Wall Street Journal. The cause celebre is rating agencies.

Demand for Educated Workers May Outstrip Supply by 2018 WSJ Economics Blog. Quelle horreur! Older people might be employable for a change!

How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love the Currency Collapse Jesse

SEC: Government Destroyed Documents Regarding Pre-9/11 Put Options George Washington

US turned down Britain’s offer to help clean up BP oil rig spill Times Online (hat tip reader John D). This will no doubt add to tensions on both sides of the pond, but marine biologists like Sharon Earle vehemently oppose the use of dispersants (it makes it harder to remove the oil) so this snafu may have been a blessing in disguise.

BP warns that its new oil collection plan has safety risks McClatchy. I am getting tired of this “the dog ate my homework” stance. The Coast Guard told BP to accelerate the plan it had proposed to increase capture (which it would have in place by mid July). Suddenly it is backpedaling furiously from that very plan.

US seeks $20bn BP pay-out Financial Times

Efforts to Repel Gulf Oil Spill Are Described as Chaotic New York Times

Love and loathing across the ocean Gideon Rachman, Financial Times. This and many of the articles in the UK that characterize Obama’s tough stance (which is likely to prove to be mere posturing) as overdone all sidestep the not-trivial possibility that the leak will not be contained any time soon and the damage will be catastrophic. This sort of thing is what galls Americans:

But with the City in trouble and the government grappling with a vast budget deficit, the last thing Britain needs is the threatened destruction of the country’s largest company by legal claims in America

Sorry, if BP goes bust as a result of LEGITIMATE claims, the system has worked properly. The assets and workers will go to better operators. The problem with BP is that its rich dividend led many to buy it for yield and mistakenly regard it as a safe investment, when equity is risk capital.

6/14 comment by dougr The Oil Drum (hat tip reader Ray P). Today’s must read, but be warned, it might ruin your day. Update: Reader Glenn deems dougr’s analysis of conditions to be off beam, but in comments below, he does say his general conclusion is accurate, the only way to kill the leak is via relief wells, and this may not be at all easy at these depths.

Antidote du jour:

Picture 58

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. attempter

    The whole British line of argument is simply a brazen declaration of the British system’s criminality.

    It’s an extreme example of the rarely-seen “libertarian” honesty, that “I have a right to punch you in the face, and it’s your fault for not getting out of the way.”

    It’s also funny how openly they express their contempt for textbook capitalism and the alleged rule of law. As Yves points out, there’s no argument here – if BP is liqudated completely, that’s according to capitalism’s own self-proclaimed rules. (But the British kleptocracy is now openly de-proclaiming those same rules.)

    Of course if the Oil Drum comment is correct, liquidation of the assets would be the least justice demands.

    The shareholders are whining? They should be on their knees thanking the patron saint of thieves for the concept of the “limited liability corporation”, since in the event of total liquidation they’d be getting off far more easily than justice demands, or they deserve.

    Of course, I don’t expect anything even remotely like even the anodyne liquidation to happen.

    1. Toby

      “Of course if the Oil Drum comment is correct, liquidation of the assets would be the least justice demands.”

      If dougr’s analysis is correct, justice becomes irrelevant. As I understood his closing, apocalyptic remarks, the oil disaster is likely to prove an extinction level event.

      I’m entirely uncertain as to how to deal with that information. Do I share this with my daughters, for example…

        1. Toby

          Why is that conceit and hyperbole? I fail to understand.

          What matters is whether dougr’s analysis is correct. If yes then ELE. ELEs do happen. What degree of species get wiped out is unknowable, but seeing as we are at the top of the food chain, that makes humans most vulnerable. Being human it is humans I most care about. Or maybe being a father, it is my children whom I most care about.

          I see from Glen Stehle’s comment that dougr might be applying more imagination than science. I am ignorant in matters of deep sea drilling so am vulnerable to those who know more than me but less than necessary. Therefore I am grateful to Glen for clearing that up. Thanks Glen!

        2. Francois T

          Did you read dougr post?

          If the reserves are in the magnitude of 2.5 billion barrels, and considering the pressure of the column of sea water at 5,000 feet deep, let’s assume the pressure reach equilibrium after, say, 1.3 billion barrels have already leaked. What would be left of the Gulf of Mexico after that?

          Remember it’s not a simple matter of volume of the leak versus total volume of the sea.Let’s consider the toxicity of the stuff, it’s impact on wildlife, aquifers in the area (seeping through) change in the micro climate (the amount of volatile gases would be staggering) etc. etc.

          Whichever way one look at it, it would be a total nightmare.

          I’m starting to positively love the smell of small nuclear devices in the morning.

          Note to those who are card-carrying members of the Club for Growth and groups of similar flavor: Suggest you stock up on Valium and similar psychotropic drugs,’cause if you dislike regulations and govermin oversight, you’re going to positively hate what’s coming, cats and kittens.

      1. wunsacon

        >> As I understood his closing, apocalyptic remarks, the oil disaster is likely to prove an extinction level event.

        No, I doubt that’s what he meant with those short closing remarks (about 63 words, depending on where you begin counting) after such a long comment (3900 word) focused on the technical difficulty of plugging the well.

      2. toxymoron

        According to IEA or AEI, the world consumes daily about 86 million barrels of liquid fuels, or 1000 barrels a second. At 150kbpd, that’s about 2.5 minutes of world consumption.
        The whole reservoir of 2 billion barrels is less than a month’s worth of world fuel consumption.
        So what you call an ‘extinction event’ is happening all the time everywhere, for about the last ten years.

        1. Toby

          While I stand corrected by Glen Stehle’s comment below (and have already said so above) there is a huge difference between billions of barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico and burning billions of barrels of oil in cars and elsewhere, or turning it into fertilisers and plastics etc. Is it your position that the two are the same thing? Are you suggesting this is not in any way an environmental disaster? It seems to me you are, by comparing the two in that way. Are you further suggesting I don’t realise that the world burns through millions of barrels of oil a day? That’s insulting. Why do so?

          That said, there are those who see burning fossil fuels at the rate we do as a major contributor to global warming, and global warming unchecked would indeed be an extinction level event. ELEs are deep upsets to existing ecosystems, changing their operation so much they break down. Ecosystems are fragile things, and we depend on many.

      3. Robin

        Do you mean this quote?

        “Rumors also suggest a massive collapse of the Gulf floor itself is in the making.”

        This sound apocalyptic enough for me.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      When the prophets said “prepare for the Rupture” I thought they said “Rapture”, so here I sit in my birthday suit instead of my hazmat suit.

      The Oil Drum report gives fuel to the nuclear option advocates.

      “The second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood, and a third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed. The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters. The name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter.” (Rev 8:8-11)

      1. reslez

        There is no nuclear “option”. I see this come up over and over. It must have some sort of innate psychological appeal.

        We have no nuclear devices capable of working at the necessary depth. Even nukes used on submarines are designed for much shallower depths. It would take years to design such a device (do you really want to mess up something like that?). The nukes used by Russia on gas wells were detonated on dry land, not 5,000 – 30,000 feet underwater. Even if we had such a bomb available off-the-shelf it is utterly irrelevant because the nature of the seabed in the gulf weighs overwhelmingly against its use.

        1. charcad

          There is no nuclear “option”. Even if we had such a bomb available off-the-shelf

          To be blunt, I doubt your assessement of possible weapons effects is any more informed than your basic ignorance of available weaponry.

          155mm nuclear artillery shell. 6.1″ diameter. It was fired from a 155 millimeter diameter howitzer tube. Explosive yield was a nominal 72 tons TNT. They were retired from field service in 1992. The US Government probably still has a few examples awaiting decommissioning.

          8″ nuclear artillery shell. 8″ diameter. This was fired from an 8″ diameter cannon. Yield between 5 KT and 40 KT.

          fyi, typical firing pressures developed in the gun tubes are 30,000 psi and higher. We see that suitable devices are in fact available “off the shelf” if we reach that point. Don’t construe anything here to mean that I advocate that we resort to a nuke at this time. I merely wanted to correct inaccurate information.

  2. dearieme

    “the use of dispersants .. makes it harder to remove the oil”: OK. “so this snafu may have been a blessing in disguise”: coulod be, but the story goes on to say that dispersants are being used anyway.

    Has Obama’s administration been so bad on this problem because the guy is a perpetual adolescent who has surrounded himself with crooks and incompetents, or is there more to it than that? Are they letting a crisis not go to waste?

    1. aet

      Unlike hurricane Katrina, this is a man-made disaster, and the death toll is incomparable: one hundred times more people died as a result of Katrina.

      NONE of this is “Obama’s fault”.

      Lest we forget:
      “Drill, baby, drill!”
      A pro-Obama chant, no?

      This disaster’s genesis, like the response to Katrina, is Bush’s Party’s fault.

      1. BDBlue

        I suggest you read Rolling Stone’s piece on this Administration and drilling. It’s clear Obama inherited a mess, but it’s also clear that they did little to clean it up, continued to push for more drilling, and have failed to react as strongly and swiftly as they should’ve. “Drill, baby, drill” might’ve been the mantra of Obama’s opponents, but once in office, he was sure quick to adopt it as his own.

        There’s plenty of blame to go around here. It’s yet another massive failure of our corporate and political elites. And, keeping with a theme Obama likes, it’s a bipartisan failure (certainly, for example, the Democrats in Congress after 2006 could’ve done more to force the MMS into shape, but – of course – that would’ve prevented them from benefitting from oil money).

        1. Kelli K

          I agree, the RS piece is eye-opening. It also raises the question of whether EITHER the government or BP can be trusted to clean up AND level with the American public, albeit for quite different reasons.

          I fear we have entered a crisis “Twilight Zone” atmosphere in which incompetence and cowardice (failure of leadership is a form of cowardice and the Obama admin is showing it in spades) give us the worst of all possible outcomes. BP is given enough rope to hang itself, the administration uses this “useful crisis” to its political advantage (billion dollar slush funds, apocalyptic hysteria), rule of law is reduced to ashes and the Gulf dies a horrible death.

          On the other hand, to those of you fulminating about “extinction events,” please put a lid on it until we have any reliable information on what is happening and what is likely to happen. You crap yourself and make others do same for no good reason. If anything, the failure of our collective efforts to get any useful, consistently reliable information out of the Gulf should lead us all to DEMAND to be treated like adults. Instead, we are lied to about the seriousness of the problem and construct likely fantastic doomsday scenarios that only fuel further outrageous moves by our “leaders.” Stop already.

          1. Robin

            Oh really, KelliK?

            MAybe you should read this which is found on the links list, before you say ‘You crap yourself and make others do same for no good reason.”


            Writing hysterical call-outs about supposed hysterical callouts is what some would label hypocritical.

    2. NOTaREALmerican

      While I’m not a big fan of the socialist wing of the Republicrat Party, I do think this “Obama and the oil-spill” obsession is pretty humorous.

      The oil is still spewing, nobody knows how to stop it, cleaning it up takes decades, if you don’t live on the Gulf it doesn’t matter, which means: there’s nothing anybody can do but watch the destruction. Welcome to the future.

  3. Ina Deaver

    Dougr is correct, of course. The Gulf is dead. That’s my home, by the way – it was beautiful, and my children have enjoyed going there with their grandparents. It’s likely to be Chernobylled for the foreseeable future.

    As far as I’m concerned, the British will not understand what BP has done and what they have coming until the Atlantic current fouls their fishing grounds and destroys their coastline. Once that happens – when the oil reaches them, and centuries-old fishing towns have to be essentially abandoned, THEN they will finally get it.

    This is an extinction level event – but not for our reckless species. Instead, it’s likely to be the last blow for bluefin tuna, atlantic swordfish, redfish, possibly red snapper, the Kemp’s Ridley, Atlantic Green turtles, and several species of flounder and a couple of species of dolphin. Several bird populations will likely also be killed off completely. That is what I understood Doug to mean.

    1. aet

      People have been causing the extinction of other species for a long long time.

      EEL’s ought to refer to events which could render US extinct.

      Like an asteroid strike.

      But I suppose there’s ALWAYS something else to worry about, if you look hard enough.

  4. Joe Blowoutpreventer

    As Yves said, the 6/14 comment by dougr might ruin our day. It might well ruin our world.

    I can’t understand how certain folks say that we can’t live without oil. Well, it’s only been just over 100 years that we’ve lived with it, and it might be the downfall of humanity.

    “drill, baby, drill,” indeed.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Re: we can’t live without oil.

      There was a simple solution. Make is more expensive. Perhaps that will happen now.

      But, here’s my prediction of what will happen:

      1) Stupendious bowl
      2) Evil doers
      3) American idle
      4) Frat-boy mentality.

      Dude, what was the topic?

  5. Glenn Stehle

    Re: Today’s must read—Oildrum comment by dougr

    Let me just state that dougr has a very active imagination, and that this fantastic scenario he constructs is highly unlikely. It reads like a science fiction novel. There are much simpler explanations that fit the fact set just as well that aren’t so fanciful.

    Also it is obvious he is not a drilling professional. Those in the business use a jargon, and he clearly doesn’t use the jargon.

    That said, I believe he comes to the right final conclusion, which is that the only thing with any great probability of success of killing the well are the two offset kill wells they are drilling. And the well will spew oil and gas until those wells are drilled.

    As to all the things he prophesizes, if they come to pass, so what? Even if they come true, they will have little effect on the rate oil is gushing out the top, nor will they impede the final killing of the well. This well will ultimately be killed from the bottom up, not from the top down. So his focus on what is going on near the surface is all wrong.

    A much more germane area of concern is what will be going on at 18,000’ subsea when the kill wells get to that depth. You’ve got a wellbore down there, more than 3 miles below sea level, that is about the diameter of a large dinner plate that you’re trying to intersect. They’ve made many advances in this regard since I was active in the business, but I can foresee great difficulty in steering the kill wells, at that depth, accurately enough to intersect the wellbore of the Macondo well.

    1. Ina Deaver

      I think it’s a given that the casing has failed. I agree that dougr may not be an industry insider – may not be a petroleum engineer. Whether what he thinks is the outcome of a catastrophic well failure is the outcome I don’t think anyone can say for sure. I know nothing about this formation or this field. I know, from MSM sources, that mud leaked out into the formation from the attempted top kill: do you have an alternative explanation for that other than “the well is broken below the surface?”

      I’m spending the weekend with an old land man friend of mine who has been working in the patch all her life – since the mid70s – and has ridden the industry up and down a few times now. I’m interested in seeing what she has to say, even though she’s not an engineer.

      1. Glenn Stehle

        Ina Deaver,

        I really don’t think it’s a productive use of time or energy to get into a debate over whether the casing has failed or not.

        Like I said earlier, it is not relevant to the ultimate killing of the well, because the only way to kill this well is from the bottom up. Once they intersect the wellbore down at 18,000’ subsea (which may present some difficulties) they will be able to kill the well. My suspicion is that after they kill the well, they will fill the wellbore with cement, by circulating it from the bottom up, and abandon the well. Chances are they will never go back into the well from the top to clean it up, and we will thus never know the exact path the blowout took (that is whether it was through channeling behind the casing annulus or up the casing due to a casing failure) or the condition of the well and its various structural components near the surface.

        That said, if dougr’s apocalyptic scenario were to come true and the earth around the wellbore caved in, it might have an impact on mitigation efforts, that is on the ability to capture the oil that is escaping. But let me repeat, it would have no bearing on the ultimate ability to kill the well.

        His talk about the well having enough force to eject 8000’ of drill pipe out the top is just crazy talk. Like I say, the guy has a very vivid imagination. He’s done a great job of researching various information sources (some of questionable reliability, I might point out) but lacks the knowledge to sort the wheat from the chaff, and to put it all within a realistic framework.

    2. Francois T

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge on this board.

      I have a question: Should the relief wells fails, what options (if any) are left? Does the nuclear option like the Russians say they did, even viable in the GOM environment?

      1. Glenn Stehle

        Francois T,

        The relief well has to work. They will have to keep trying until they intersect the well.

        Like I said, ARAMCO is the world’s leader in this sort of technology, as this article explains:

        I have no idea what the current capabilities are with this technology, as ARAMCO has made so many advances in the last decade that my knowledge is now antiquated.

        For the nuclear option to work, the explosive would have to be placed far enough down the wellbore, probably at a minimum of 10,000 feet below the level of the sea floor. How would one get the nuclear device down there? I see no way to do this.

        1. Francois T

          How would they get the nuclear device down there?

          Well, I used to bore holes in people, :-D not in the Earth, so, I’ll blissfully display my ignorance here. (he! he!)

          I can see only one way to do that: drill a secondary well down to, say, 8-9,000 feet below sea bed and angle it toward the leaking one close enough to a distance needed for the shock wave due to the detonation to ram the rock and soil that would flatten the leaking pipe forever.

          I’m sure this scenario would make all experts blanch with exasperation and frustration, but it’s good for them to be exposed to the simplistic ideas of the vulgus populi like your truly. ;-)

          It could make them come out of their corners and explain to the rest of us why it cannot possibly work.

          It’d be very interesting to hear the arguments from those who know.

          1. charcad

            Well, the W33 and W79 nuclear warheads are both 8″ cannon shells. They were designed from the start to be fired out a steel tube under very high pressure. Dial-a-yield from 0.5 kt up to 40 kt.

    3. emca


      Your quote:
      “Let me just state that dougr has a very active imagination”

      That’s somewhat of an understatement.

      Read the exchange between dougr and others last night on the same blog (June 15, about 2:00 am). The quote by “kalliergo”
      at 2:48:
      Honestly, dougr, this is just way too goofy, in too many ways, to take seriously.”

      He is referring to calculations on the amount to oil in the gulf against world reserves and peak oil (the notion that ‘peak oil’ is a conspiracy of Dick Cheney in cahoots with oil companies), but the statement hits the nail of head when it comes to ‘dougr’ analysis of certain events.

  6. MarcoPolo

    This is how they do it in Chicago. 

    “The Obama administration has proposed that a [$20B] fund should be set up in an escrow account, paid for by BP but with an independent administrator, to meet claims from victims of the spill.”. -Financial Times. 

    Now let’s see…who can we make administrator?  

    Lo so !!  Uno dei nostri amici sul southside!  Where is Blagojevivh?  Busy. Well, somebody else then.  And we’ll give the rest of the BP hoity-toity jobs in the Administration except that Tony wazhisname because his English is not so good and the Republicans will never go for that.  He’ll have to go to AZ with Bureau of Land Management. And then we can renegotiate the lease and sell all the oil in Prudhoe Bay to nostri amici at JPM and relocate BP to Maiden Lane.  This is ___ beautiful.

    And those of you, Yves, Glenn (CNN/FOX) who have been so quick to pick up the BP must die chant enable this corruption by creating the conditions that make it seem so reasonable. There are consequences to your action even though you are otherwise justified. Where is iBall?


    1. Glenn Stehle


      Let me begin by saying that I certainly share your concerns that our government represents the best option to resolve this problem. But I also don’t believe that BP is the best option either.

      My personal belief is that the best option would be to call in ARAMCO (Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company) and Petrobras (Brazil’s state-owned oil company).

      Note that Dougr’s comment is embedded in a post by Heading Out, who it sounds like is an educator from Great Britain who teaches mining and petroleum science. He talks of the difficulties that the cyclical economy creates in training and retaining engineering and mining talent, and thus our current crisis with a dearth of competent drilling personnel.

      I find Heading Out’s comments to be parochial.

      The global situation, as opposed to the insular world in which Heading Out exists, is as follows:

      1) State-owned oil companies, which is where 90% of the action is these days in the oil and gas business, have other priorities than “market” forces with their short term focus, and thus avoid many if not most of the vagaries of the business cycle.

      2) State-owned oil companies don’t have the cost-cutting mandate that private for-profit companies do, and thus can allocate more to safety. It’s my understanding that Brazil, for instance, whose state-owned oil company is doing a tremendous amount of deep-water drilling, would have never permitted the lapses in BOP design that occurred on the Deepwater Horizon. Their standards are just much higher than ours.

      3) Without a doubt, on a global level, the most advanced oil company with the greatest deployment of state-of-the-art technology and the best personnel is the Saudi state-owned oil company ARAMCO. I wish I could find some of the links I’ve browsed before that show some of the technology they use. For an old-timer like me, they do things we couldn’t have even imagined in my heyday. I look at the stuff they do and am just awestruck.

      I have to believe that many of the horizontal drilling techniques that are being used to unlock plays in the US like the Barnett Shale and the Marcellus Shale were perfected and road tested in Saudi Arabia, only then to be brought to the US.

      And the recruiting of these companies like ARAMCO is global in scope. They go for the crème de la crème when it comes to talent. I remember being in Bogota a couple of years ago when ARAMCO brought its road show to Columbia, and the Columbian government was all in an uproar at the Saudi company for stealing “its” talent. An experienced petroleum engineer in Columbia only makes about $60,000 per year (they make about $120,000 in the US). But as I recall ARAMCO was offering something like $250,000 per year, 30 on- 30 off with free airfare back home during the 30 off, with all other sorts of bennies.

      The knowhow we need now, as far as extinguishing the blowout, are 1) deep-water drilling expertise and 2) directional drilling expertise. And when it comes to these two technologies, the Saudis and the Brazilians are the world leaders.

      Of course if we were to call in the best experts in the world, what broader message would this send? I believe that for most Americans the message would be untenable. It would include:

      1) A recognition that state-owned oil companies are more competent than our privately-owned oil companies, a real blow to the stature of capitalism and free market ideology as it is practiced in the US today.

      2) A recognition that a tyrannical dictatorship (Saudi Arabia) is more competent, at least at drilling oil wells, than our liberal democracy (assuming one believes we still have a functional democracy in the US these days).

      3) A recognition that the racist anti-Latino and anti-Arab/Islam ideologies that our government and various think tanks have spent so much time and money inculcating in the US population for the last 10 years are little more than irrational prejudices.

      I have little doubt that Saudi Arabia and Brazil, if asked, would be more than happy to lend us their best and brightest management and supervisory talent in our hour of need. But this would challenge so many American assumptions that, as I said above, I believe the prospects of this happening to be close to zero.

      1. Valissa

        Thanks Glen for sharing your knowledge on this matter – greatly appreciated! I fear you are right about the US being too arrogant and caught up in fantasies of American Exceptionalism to ask for accept help from other nations. Ah, the perils of empire and ego..for the citizenry.

      2. psychohistorian

        Thank you for that perspective which I agree with. America is a dangerous fascist government with nukes and seemingly hell bent (pun intended) on “incorporating” the world.

      3. Francois T

        I have little doubt that Saudi Arabia and Brazil, if asked, would be more than happy to lend us their best and brightest management and supervisory talent in our hour of need. But this would challenge so many American assumptions that, as I said above, I believe the prospects of this happening to be close to zero.

        There is also a matter of environmental damage to consider; all those heads exploding in rapid fire succession would leave so much toxic bullshit behind it would dwarf the actual spill. :-D

      4. emca

        The quote:

        “1) A recognition that state-owned oil companies are more competent than our privately-owned oil companies, a real blow to the stature of capitalism and free market ideology as it is practiced in the US today.”

        gets to the heart of the problem, doesn’t it. Gov’mit is good for prosecuting wars, but incompetent in everything else.

        Aramco by the way has offices in Washington D.C. so it wouldn’t exactly be long distance communication to ask for their help.

      5. Anonymous Jones

        That was an absolutely fantastic comment, Glenn, perhaps your best yet. Thanks for real information and the use of logic.

        Precisely because of the rarity of such excellent comments, this one was well appreciated.

      6. Doug Terpstra

        Excellent as always, Glenn, esp. the last part:

        “I have little doubt that Saudi Arabia and Brazil, if asked, would be more than happy to lend us their best and brightest management and supervisory talent in our hour of need. But this would challenge so many American assumptions that…I believe the prospects of this happening to be close to zero.”

        Yes, but the scale of Pandora’s rupture here may be her way of forcing enlightment upon us, despite persistent denial. There now seems to be an intense end-game convergence of crises—financial,ecological, and soon, military, that will almost surely force us through a passage into a more highly evolved consciousness. Esperemos.

      7. gordon

        Maybe the Russians would also be happy to lend the US the expertise of Ivan Bombski, their expert in shutting down out-of-control wells.

        Ivan: First we drink vodka! Then we let off bomb!

        US: Then what?

        Ivan: Then we drink LOTS MORE VODKA!

      8. MarcoPolo

        Thank you. I’ve been operating on the assumption that one didn’t put a rig like that in the water without having a lot of smart people on it. Think I should reconsider that premise. And I could say a LOT about parasitic, rent-seeking, dis-investment, ownership, but will leave that for another time.

  7. Andrew Bissell

    If British pension funds want an investment with (almost) no risk of loss, our Treasury has a fine assortment of bills, notes, and bonds to offer.

    I like a phrase I saw over on Ritholtz’s forums: “There’s no crying in the stock market!”

  8. Sharonsj

    I’ve been joking that either seafood will be so expensive only the super rich will afford it or it will become a memory. After reading the Oil Drum, both will happen. What you forget is that the oil will not only kill species but some of the lower rungs of the food chain that humans depend on. Since most of us will be too broke to afford seafood, my next prediction is an even greater increase in people growing their own food to survive. We are truly fucked.

  9. Ronald

    Re:Protecting the Obama brand Joan Walsh:

    While running for office Obama made clear he was a war monger with his position regarding the war in Afghanistan and also enjoyed large campaign donations from Oil and Wall Street interests, yet Joan Walsh is now concerned about his positions! American University system has generated a significant knucklehead level at the political top we have Clinton,Bush 2 and now Obama all graduate’s from America’s top University system. While journalism major’s were never much to write about the current crop continue’s to under perform even modest expectations.

  10. Ronald

    The current media PR is pretty clear; blame BP, tell a huge lie that the GOM will be returned to some state of natural bliss and that further deep water drilling will be safer.
    Nothing in this PR endangers the idea that America should minimize its oil habit, that excessive reliance upon auto economics is a dead end, or that oil drilling whether on land or sea has blowouts and should be curtailed. Nope the media and blogs are full of I hate BP the evil corporate oil company all this PR conveniently generated by government/MSM
    propaganda to get the country back to deep water drilling ASAP.
    The BP check is in the mail along with the pristine GOM enjoy the latest Disney ride.

  11. EmilianoZ

    Has Yves linked to any story about Bradley Manning? He’s the guy who leaked the Iraq chopper killing spree video to Wikileaks. He has leaked other important documents which I think have not yet appeared on Wikileaks.

    He was ratted by Adrian Lamo, ex-hacker.

  12. srirang


    i am quite surprised at the animosity towards BP. i mean, i am sure the industry has pretty much the same standards on safety, give or take a multiple of 10 or so. the industry serves us all in our bizarre energy needs, our philharmonics, our culture, our science, our knowledge, our hubble telescopes, our organic-yoga, and so on.
    it could well have been exxon or say even Fedex who delayed in sending a part which would have changed the world.

    one reasonable outcome would be what happened to health care: make the service pay for all the insurance for all possible “damage”.

    that said, i dont think the spill is so apocryphal. i think
    we have more depths to plunge.

    regs, M

  13. Francois T

    Quelle horreur! Older people might be employable for a change!

    Wouldn’t that be so darn sad? Can one imagine the plight of these poor managers, so used to deal with pliable, young deeply in debt workers eager to please? Having to deal with workers who have some life experience, can easily smell corporate bullshit a mile away and know what they want from life.

    That would suck so bad…I’ll do my very best to shed a tear for these poor corporations.

    Seriously! ::roll eyes::

  14. ep3

    Yves, it still concerns me that there is this attitude being concocted that “it’s all the regulators fault”. Oil, finance, food; we are saying to each other that the poor corporation behaved correctly and that it only did bad things because the evil gov’t regulators didn’t stop it from doing the bad things. I don’t like where this slippery slope can lead. Because then we have laws passed that hog-tie the regulators because they are the bad guys and the same laws allow the corporations to do as they please. As I read the rolling stone obama oil article this continues to pop into my head; blame the gov’t more than the corporation. Yes the gov’t didn’t do it’s job. But in the political climate we have today, the preferred solution is to gut the corresponding agency because gov’t is bad.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Good points, you are right.

      However, what other choice does the sycophant media priests have?

      The fascists corporate shills should blame government (that’s their job). Telling American dumbass peasants that the government is incompetent is like telling them the sky is blue. You don’t even need to have to story right, just the theme music.

      The socialist big-government shills can use this to “prove” we need to make the government even bigger.

      The path to success in a socialist or fascist system is playing the scam, not exposing it. There’s no way back to a representative democracy now, the system is way too big.

      1. aet

        Somehow I do not get the feeling that the well-being of “American dumbass peasants” is something you care about….so why I should I listen to any of your viscious characterizations of people?
        What good are you doing? what is the virtue of your l;ast comment?

        1. aet

          Oh I see now : “democracy is useless”.
          A vote from you for arbitrary rule.
          You could be clearer about your preferences..

          1. NOTaREALmerican

            Re: You could be clearer about your preferences..

            I’m just trying to get through the next 30 years. Then I’ll be dead.

            You want a solution to all problems. I work in corporate America, and sometimes – despite the BS spewing of the most optimistic manager – the system really isn’t “challenged” it’s just F’d-up and beyond hope. In cases like this it doesn’t matter how much you “synergize the holistic tablessteaks in a going-forward space” you’ve just got to realize “it’s dead, Jim”.

        2. NOTaREALmerican

          Re: Somehow I do not get the feeling that the well-being of “American dumbass peasants” is something you care about

          Don’t care at all. What’s the point? We’re far beyond a solution that involves the dumbasses that got us to this point.

          Re: so why I should I listen to any of your viscious characterizations of people?

          You shouldn’t.

          Re: What good are you doing? what is the virtue of your l;ast comment?

          My version of reality.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I certainly don’t accept that argument, but you are right, a lot of people in the blogopshere and some in comments here are taking that stance.

      Regulation sets a bare minimum standard. Some companies operate to that level, most (hopefully) exceed it.

      The part that most are airbrushing out of this picture is the effort by bug businesses (and some economist cheerleaders) to deregulate, and the concerted effort in many industries to weaken those rules by remained by what amounts to suborning regulators (revolving doors, lavish trips, etc). I talk about this in ECONNED, there are entire books on this topic.

      The argument that “it’s the regulators’ fault” given this fact set is like killing one’s parents and then looking for sympathy as an orphan.

      1. Ronald

        The United States issued a permit to BP for this drilling as it does routinely for a variety of industrial mining activities with little thought given to environmental damage or in the case of a environmental disaster how it might be handled beyond boiler plate response documents ,or who might pay for clean up beyond the limits imposed by Congress. Notice that the Congress is suddenly quite about raising the drilling liability as once it became clear that by raising the limit it would severely limit oil and gas exploration.

        Our regulatory efforts reflect the standards Americans expect when it comes to mining which is to encourage the activity at the expense of environmental concerns.

      2. charcad

        Regulation sets a bare minimum standard. Some companies operate to that level, most (hopefully) exceed it.

        “The State”, at least the American State, can do a superb job of completely suppressing large scale organized activities. As an example see the offshore drilling in the large and shallower West Florida Shelf. There is none.

        The evidence is non-existent that the US Government can competently supervise complicated activities like offshore drilling. As Exhibit A I present the current Gulf mess. Sure BP did everything wrong. And where was the Minerals Management Service?

        How did it happen that someone as utterly and completely unqualified as Harvard Law School alumnus and environmental lawyer Susan Elizabeth “Liz” Birnbaum came to be at the head of the MMS supervising offshore drilling? How did it happen that this woman devoid of any qualifications was the choice of the political system? This sort of choice was only possible in a system every bit as decadent and corrupt as the Versailles Court and French government of Louis XVI.

        Glenn Stehle has contributed some outstanding information. Perhaps he might share some insights on the relative percentages and ranks of engineers and lawyers in Petrobas and ARAMCO. I expect these two state organizations look very different from standard Washington practice at this point in time.

        Nor is there the least shred of evidence that anyone in Washington has learned the anything from this. Exhibit B is Susan Birnbaum’s replacment. This is yet another Harvard Law School lawyer, Michael Bromwich. This sort of appointment characterized the behavior of the Soviet nomenklatura elite at its most inbred and corrupt, shortly before their state system collapsed.

        1. Anonymous Jones

          “The evidence is non-existent that the US Government can competently supervise complicated activities like offshore drilling.”

          I’m glad we have you around. Given that only the omniscient can prove such a negative, it’s always handy to have someone omniscient close by.

          Please let me defer to your vastly superior knowledge and intellect once again. It is stunning to be making comments on the same board as someone so exceptional. I consider myself lucky. Please continue to enlighten us all with your brilliance.

          [It’s easy to find the catastrophes any organization presides over. It’s much more difficult to see the catastrophes they avoided without the benefit of “knowing” all the outcomes in the alternate universes of the counterfactuals.]

      3. gordon

        If (a) only State-run petroleum companies have the expertise, and (b) private companies are effectively unregulated (see rants about regulation above), and (c) the US wants to keep doing offshore drilling then (d) the US needs a State petroleum company.

        On a couple of occasions now (I can’t remember on which blogs) I have suggested that State provision is the aspect of regulation that nobody can see, for some obscure reason. It is the invisible option. This thread has put all the logical pieces in place but I think I’m still the first person to draw the conclusion. Funny.

        1. charcad

          The Saudis and Brazilians can successfully run state-owned oil companies. That doesn’t mean Americans can.

          It all comes down to personnel selection. Our modern Ivy League nomenklatura has already proven incompetent at regulating offshore drilling. One Harvard lawyer failed. Harvard lawyer Obama’s response was to appoint yet another Harvard lawyer to the same job. `

          Why would this inbred and cloistered clique of Ivy Leaguers be able to run an entire state oil and gas company? These mediocre influence peddlers think they should get billion dollar annual salaries for ordering Chinese take-out.

          America: a failed state with a failed elite.

  15. Cassandra

    Moving from the the environment to the human element in the GOM area for a moment, consider the following: If the evolution of this event brings the already struggling folks in that Gulf States to their knees, because some of them are a poorly educated and heavily armed bunch, I think they will erupt. We will have riots in this country the likes of which we have not seen since the 1960’s. The military will be called in to maintain order; Obama becomes a one term wonder.

    1. Ronald

      The South is rich in chemical,oil, gas and military installations and they account for the bulk of jobs and income far beyond what sport fishing and beach houses bring to the table. Their is considerable displeasure that off shore drilling has been stopped as it means job losses and the environmental spotlight on the GOM makes the chemical industry nervous So I doubt that the South will rise up in armed rebellion over dead birds and lost tourist dollars rather the anxiety is over how long the drilling halt will last so they can get back to business as usual.

  16. MonkeyMuffins

    Glad to see you took my advice and embraced your inner moonbat.

    Now that you’re out of the nine-eleven-moonbat closet you’ll attract more loons–always good for traffic(*)–if you branch out a bit to include other offensive John Birch Society style infotainment like The North American Union, Chem Trails are killing us, Vaccines are a NWO-ZOG plot for profit and control, etcetera.

    You’ve already jumped the rational shark, I recommend going full hog.

    Why haven’t I tried to point-by-point debunk the offensive, nine-eleven-moonbat, Put Option crap laid out herein by NakedCapitalism/GeorgeWashington?

    Same reason I don’t argue with or attempt to debunk flat earthers, global warming deniers, infinite growth “economists” or creationists: you can’t reason with a rock.

    These folks clearly believe nine-eleven-was-an-inside-job (MIHOP or LIHOP, doesn’t matter, they’re both monumentally stupid: never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence) against overwhelming, credible, scientific evidence to the contrary. There is no way to communicate with this kind of mental illness.

    NakedCapitalism and GeorgeWashington (and FireDogLake and RawStory, for that matter): proudly proving the Left-in-name-only is as batshit crazy as the real-Right.

    All you’re doing is employing the same strategy of doubt ( employed by the tobacco industry, the global warming denial movement and others.

    For those not so easily ensorcelled by puerile fantasies:

    (*) Speaking of The Oil Drum, there are a lot of nine-eleven-moonbats in the Peak Community, such as it is, highlighted by the likes of Michael “the supremely odious” Ruppert, Matthew Savinar, Jan Lundberg, Richard Heinberg, Alex Smith, Carolyn Baker, the person who runs ClimateChangeNews(dot)org, and a host of others. So you’ll do well catering to this demented demographic.

    Also, many in the Peak (Everything) Movement, such as it is–specifically Peak Oilers–don’t “believe” in global warming so you might want to start running global-warming-is-a-hoax stories for good moonbat measure.

  17. John

    Interesting interview of the author of the book ‘The Bush Cheney Copresidency’:

    The author claims that Cheney installed 1600 lobbyists/former-industry-execs into top regulatory positions and then changed their status from political appointees to civil servants. Supposedly it can take 18 months to two years to fire a civil servant whereas political appointees can be replaced at the whim of the presidency. The author further goes on to say that we should expect many more disasters in coming years as Cheney essentially removed a regulatory framework that took 50 years to build.

    I think we (humans) can survive this, but we may wish we had not.

Comments are closed.