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


33 Responses to “BP Disaster: The Gulf is not The Gulf, it is a giant grid carved up by hungry oil companies”

  1. evamoon says:

    Can we laugh about any of this yet? Here’s a song that’s a send up BP and the fiasco in the Gulf: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsdd6uC4ClY

  2. Sproogle says:

    I think the article makes too much of this map. A ‘sobering look at how big oil views our coastal assets?’ Well, not exactly. To see this map and extrapolate that oil execs only see natural beauty in terms of money is a bit of a stretch. Of course they need maps like this. Their business necessitates it. But that doesn’t make it a blanket representation of what the gulf looks like to the people behind the business.

    • Drowse says:

      Sproogle: I agree. You could pull up a map of your own town and see who owns each parcel of land and call that the reality of the world and say that is all real estate people see. Maps can tell different truths, that is one thing I have learned in the short time I’ve spent in the world of GIS. (Geographical Information Systems)

    • querent says:

      “To see this map and extrapolate that oil execs only see natural beauty in terms of money is a bit of a stretch.”

      Yeah, they really have been getting some bad press lately. Poor guys.

      Taking bets on the likelihood that PR damage control has hit the blogs. Ala the state of israel. (Poor israel.)

      • pidg says:

        “Taking bets on the likelihood that PR damage control has hit the blogs.”

        Actually, I’m sure some of us (like me) come from areas where oil is a vital industry, and whose family and friends are heavily involved in that industry in different ways… “people in the oil industry hate nature and are money-hungry pigs” is a sentiment that really pisses us off, cos it’s not true. Hate the game, not the playa, son.

  3. certron says:

    Another square with the same number, 252 but to the west, sits right next to a line labeled “Murphy”.

  4. Yamara says:

    I drink your milkshake.

    And then I vomit it up over every coast along the Gulf Stream.

  5. sing it, baby says:

    When are they going to start drilling for oil in Central Park?

    • bersl2 says:

      With all the igneous and metamorphic rock NYC is built on, I’d expect more metals than hydrocarbons there.

  6. Dewi Morgan says:

    Abstruse goose has a comic today that riffs on this nicely: http://abstrusegoose.com/?99a362f0

  7. krische says:

    So why is there no green blob in the circled BP square. I mean obviously there’s an oil field there since it is kind of spewing into the ocean at the moment.

    Was it not known that there was an oil field there?

  8. SRB says:

    All our gizmos, iphones, droids, blackberries – guess where they all come from? And guess what makes them go?

    Petroleum by-products and good old oil.

    If people want safer oil drilling then be prepared to pay $10 a gallon in the U.S. – otherwise quit bitching and deal with the reality of a fossil fuel based world.

    People talk about wanting to move away from oil, but no one wants to pay the taxes or higher energy costs to get to solar, wind or hydrogen. We want to crank our AC and play with our gadgets and surf wirelessly and consume digital content.

    I love to hear people bitch about the oil companies on the web. Do you know how much oil it takes every single day to get make your laptop / wireless router / internet connection go? To run the lights in your bldg and power your home?

    • Anonymous says:

      You, of course, only speak for yourself. Lots of people reduce consumption, lots wouldn’t mind paying some extra taxes, and nobody actually mandates the inflated profit margins and external damage oil companies get by doing things so cheaply.

    • sdmikev says:

      We’re already paying the high costs associated with fossil fuel, but it’s just hidden in fucking handouts to the scumbags in charge all over every fossil industry company. And clean up costs. And dirty air and water.
      And for every year that goes by that we spend hundreds of billions of dollars thrown down that rat hole, that represents hundreds of billions of dollars that could be spent on solar and wind to power our homes and cars that can be plugged in.
      I refuse to buy this “it’s cheaper” argument. It’s just not true.
      We subsidize fossil energy and nuclear power plant boondoggles so we can transfer wealth to a handful of people.
      We should be subsidizing construction and transportation for a new era.

  9. bersl2 says:

    But then again, I did take merely one semester of geology, so WTF do I know? :)

  10. stand says:

    He speaks of “big energy interests” as if it was a “they” rather than an “us.” Look in the mirror, people!

    • Anonymous says:

      I checked. I haven’t been lobbying the government for anything, and it wouldn’t be what “big energy interests” do, so I’m obviously not the same person as them. That’s a relief, thank you.

  11. Rayonic says:

    So the controversy here is that oil companies buy drilling rights from the government?

    The article seems to imply (but doesn’t outright state) that all offshore drilling should be stopped. Seems short-sighted to me. How about we reduce our oil consumption first before we start banning underwater drilling outright.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Those are blocks created by the US government, similar to the township/range/sections of most US states. And not all of them are leased. You can see several blocks with no company names in them – they are considered open blocks and may be open for bidding on one of the two yearly bidding rounds that the MMS holds.

    The MMS has been known to reject bids that it considers too low for a block – that happened at one company I worked for

    to see a better representation of the actual acreage held by oil companies, check out: http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/lsesale/mau_gom_pa.pdf

  13. Anonymous says:

    I worked a summer at a big 3 oil company. I’ve commented on these sorts of things before. These are massive undertakings that are not to be f’d with. Clearly BP has been running fast and loose with what amounts to our shared ecology. Regardless of whether we use oil or not we need far stronger regulation and oversight of the industry. The majority of oil is controlled by government oil companies, but still the supermajors help out with their technological expertise in many of those countries.

    It’s an amazing web we have going on based on oil. We can only hope to control it, not stop it.

    The reports I have heard regarding the blatant disregard for their worker’s and the environment’s safety at BP makes me sick. I’m sure most petro engineers feel the same way. (I’m a comp sci person) They would all agree, though, that deep sea drilling is extremely challenging… there’s just no excuse for doing it in a jury rigged manner. Sickening.

  14. Beta_Bates says:

    If anyone wants to start a band called “Chandeleur Sound Area”, I’d like to play bass guitar in it.


  15. Andrew says:

    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.

    Extracting oil in the Gulf is actually pretty expensive if you include finding costs (exploring and developing the oil field), coming in at $49.54 per barrel for 2005-2007, compared to just $4.77 per barrel in the Middle East over the same period (source).

    One of the reasons extracting oil is so expensive in the Gulf (and the reason this spill has been so difficult to stop) is that you guys don’t like seeing big oil platforms off the coast, so you insisted on the oil companies drilling further (and deeper) out to sea. This is not to excuse any failures on BP’s part, but they’re not doing this in a vacuum.

    Also for those of you who have decided to boycott BP by buying fuel from someone else, you’re really not doing anything of the sort. The oil industry is separated into upstream (finding and extracting oil) and downstream (refining, selling and marketing) businesses. A lot of the infrastructure is shared, and refineries process oil from and for all the majors. (They subsequently distinguish their fuels with tiny quantities of additives.) I used to live near a Shell refinery that had a stream of tankers from BP, Texaco, Mobil and others going through the gates.

    The majority of revenues, and the vast majority of profits, have come from the upstream business over the past 10-15 years at least. This paper suggests the majors have made about $5 per barrel on refining in recent years. The price difference between wholesale and the pump (the only bit you can boycott) was $0.08 per litre over the same period, and fixed costs (staff, advertising, buildings) need to be subtracted from that margin too.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why is it whenever somebody explains what oil companies is doing, they always mention “us guys” specifically instead of the public in general?

  16. ADavies says:

    Which color represents the massive wind farms that will power our grid after we get sick of oil companies and tell them to stuff it?

    • Anonymous says:

      Are those the same ones falling into disrepair after the folks installing them ran out of money and realized wind might not be all it’s been talked up to be?

    • sirvin says:

      It is the block titled “massive fluctuations in grid power due to dependency on wind farms leaves millions without electricity.” Or possibly the one titled “Once the green energy companies are providing our power we’ll oversimplify the magnitude of their responsibility and begin to hate them just like the oil companies.”

  17. EH says:

    One of the reasons extracting oil is so expensive in the Gulf (and the reason this spill has been so difficult to stop) is that you guys don’t like seeing big oil platforms off the coast, so you insisted on the oil companies drilling further (and deeper) out to sea. This is not to excuse any failures on BP’s part, but they’re not doing this in a vacuum.

    Nobody’s forcing them to drill there, if they can’t handle it then they can drill somewhere else. At any rate, they assume full responsibility and blame for anything goes wrong. That’s their reward for getting to play price games with us at the gas pump. There is no softening to be had here, this is a great example of lying in the bed you’ve made, of an unforced error (American Baseball).

    Of course it remains to be seen whether BP’ll actually be held to account for the mess rather than segregating the responsibility to a niche unit that WOOPS GOES BANKRUPT! like Union Carbide did in Bhopal.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oil companies have little to do or say about the price of gas. Oil is a traded commodity. Financial firms and speculative trading have a lot more to do with the price you pay than actual oil production.

  18. Rob Beschizza says:

    That looks like the most boring pen ‘n’ paper RPG/strategy game of all time.

  19. Stefan Jones says:


    “You Sunk My Drilling Platform!”

  20. turtlecrk says:

    I get royalties from a natural gas well here in upstate NY. It has generated about $12 million in gas so far. However, the cost to date for drilling, pipeline and production is about $13 million, and it’s still not certain whether it will break even. They drilled 3 other wells nearby but all were dry.

    The point is, it’s neither easy nor cheap to get oil and gas out of the ground. Drillers make very large, risky investments that require a high level of expertise to pull off.

    I don’t mean to excuse BP for their errors, since the consequences have been huge. But I do admire their balls, for going out and drilling 2 miles deep under a mile of water. The easy oil is gone.

  21. kmoser says:

    …with macho names that sound like heavy metal bands, black-diamond ski runs, and weapons systems

    This just cries out for a quiz website: “Offshore Drilling Platform or Heavy Metal Band?”

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