Recently, NBC reporter Tom Costello interviewed BP Exploration and Production Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles on the “Today” show regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Specifically, he asked Suttles for his reaction to the rapidly circulating info that oil spill cleanup technology is woefully behind the times, making the oil spill cleanup painfully inefficient. Suttles’ response is that it takes oil spills to advance the cleanup technology. “There have been so few big spills,” he told Costello, “and events haven’t driven the technology change.”
It takes an oil spill to motivate BP to have proper oil spill cleanup technology?
The lack of foresight by BP on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill – or lack of sufficient motivation to invest in preventative oil spill cleanup technology measures – is obvious. What is also obvious is the financial effect that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has had and will continue to have on BP and the economies of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. According to NBC New York, BP has already spent $1.6 billion on the spill response and related claims. Projections for future costs and liabilities extend into the $60 to $70 billion range, although the final figure will depend upon knowing the full extent of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill damage. This doesn’t even take into account BP’s massive loss in share price. Their market capitalization, reports NBC New York, has fallen by $90 billion (about 50 percent). It’s easy to imagine BP CEO Tony Hayward barking “I need money now” at the moon, but local economies need it even more. The cost to local economies damaged by the oil spill will also reach into the billions of dollars, experts predict.
I am the Gulf of Mexico walrus
Clearly, dealing with an oil spill is not high on BP’s list of priorities. Otherwise, they would have been prepared for Deepwater Horizon. According to the Associated Press, the 582-page regional oil spill cleanup plan for the Gulf of Mexico region and a shorter document addressing the specific Deepwater Horizon incident are littered with “mistakes and erroneous assumptions.” Among these are incorrect contact info for consulted marine life specialists (one of whom actually died in 2005, four years before the larger document was filed). But not being able to contact sources regarding the specific needs of marine life in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico is perhaps for the best, as BP is claiming that the walrus is found there. Walruses tend to live in cold-water areas like Alaska, not in the Gulf of Mexico. In what amounted to a weak defense, Doug Suttles claimed that the document specifically labeled for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill addressed “all impacted species,” rather than ones that actually inhabit the region. This is at the very least inefficient and illogical on BP’s part.
Not enough oil spills to advance technology? Try doing the math, BP
According to Wikipedia (which is hardly a super-secret source of information), there have been 49 recorded oil spills worldwide since the year 2000. Of those, 24 occurred in the United States. If that amounts to “too few oil spills,” then BP needs to go back to school for a healthy dose of perspective and basic reasoning skills. Check out the Rachel Maddow video below if you need help, BP – she points out some of the major U.S. spills on a map.