BP Disaster: The Gulf is not The Gulf, it is a giant grid carved up by hungry oil companies

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Over at Mother Jones, Mike Mechanic has yet another interesting piece up in their ongoing coverage of the BP blowout that continues to spew oil, kill wildlife, and destroy fragile ecosystems. Today's feature unpacks the data buried in Offshore magazine's 2010 poster of the Gulf (downloadable as a 16.6 MB PDF).

Inset below: Map detail, Mississippi Canyon. The BP spill site is circled. Mike writes,

gulfmapbp.jpgWhat energy executives see is a massive grid, tangled with scores of oil and gas pipelines and rival fields with macho names that sound like heavy metal bands, black-diamond ski runs, and weapons systems. (...) Red lines are gas pipelines and pink are gas fields, green lines are oil pipelines and green blurbs are oil fields.

What these maps really show is the degree to which the Gulf has played host to a feeding frenzy by big energy interests that snap up drilling leases on the cheap. Each of these numbered squares represents a lease site. As you can see from this Offshore magazine chart, the highest bid for a lease this year was about $53 million. Which, when you consider the value of the oil coming out of the Gulf, is chicken feed.

Who Really Owns the Gulf of Mexico? (motherjones.com)