Forget for a moment BP’s bogus promise to “make it right” on the Gulf, a new Wall Street Journal story documents just how far we have to go to “get it right” when it comes to offshore drilling.
Ben Casselman reports in-depth about our nation’s drilling rig infrastructure, and it’s not comforting: “The deadly explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in April set off a fierce battle over deep-sea oil drilling aboard huge, state-of-the art vessels. But that debate has largely ignored what many experts say could be a bigger threat: The troubled state of offshore infrastructure that remains in place long after wells are drilled.”
And this, to add to your discomfort: “Roughly half of the Gulf’s more than 3,000 production platforms are 20 years old or more, and a third date back to the 1970s or earlier, long before the development of modern construction standards. More than half have been operating longer than their designers intended, according to federal regulators.”
What do government studies show about the connection between aging infrastructure and incidents of fires, accidents or potential disaster? Well, nothing – there apparently are none. That’s one of the things they teach lawyers: Don’t ask the question if you don’t want to hear the answer.
This amounts to a trillion-dollar issue, easily. And it would be one thing if the federal regulatory agencies could be trusted to keep an eye on things – but the BP spill teaches us that is not the case, even if they re-name major agencies. It’s an important story for the “next time” files.
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