Marita Noon: Deepwater Horizon five years later: lessons learned

Marita Noon’s very latest

Deepwater Horizon five years later: lessons learned
Five years ago, following a blowout and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers, the nation was spellbound by the 87-day visual of oil flowing freely into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico from the Macondo well. The 3.1 million barrels of spewed oil has been called “the world’s largest accidental marine spill” and “the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.”

Looking back, CNN reports: “There were dire predictions of what would follow. Environmentalists and others braced for an environmental collapse on a massive scale.” Indeed, there were extreme claims including one from Matt Simmons, known for his peak oil alarmism, who predicted the crude would “float all the way to Ireland.”

Now, five years later, however, we see that, while the Deepwater Horizon accident was a tragedy, the dramatic claims were hyperbole. Nevertheless, lessons have been learned—both regarding the resilience of the environment and safe and reliable offshore operations.

Louisiana’s Senator Vitter reflects: “In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, I’ve been working with my colleagues to ensure this kind of tragedy never happens again. The spill, and then President Obama’s completely misguided offshore drilling moratorium, caused economic chaos in Louisiana. Clearly, there are lessons to be learned, and while many important reforms have been made, there is still a lot of work toward recovery and implementing the important RESTORE Act.”

In preparation for the spill’s five-year anniversary, BP issued an extensive report: Environmental Recovery and Restoration¬—which concludes, according to BloombergBusiness, the spill “didn’t do lasting damage to the ecosystem.” It isn’t surprising to hear BP attempt to burnish its badly tarnished image, but after BP has spent $28 billion on clean up and claims, others seem to agree with them.

While marshes were oiled, businesses have struggled, beaches were closed, and the restoration continues, it hasn’t been the ecological cliff that anti-petroleum groups predicted.

Despite the 13 miles of coast that suffered from “heavy oiling,” Science Magazine reports: “Nature has bounced back in surprising ways.” It states: “Brown pelicans were a poster child of the oil spill’s horrors, for instance, but there’s no sign the population as a whole has fallen. Shrimp numbers in the bay actually rose the year after the spill.” And, the state’s bayside sparrows, which had less productive nests in oiled areas, haven’t suffered “a drop in overall numbers.” Common minnows suffered a variety of abnormalities for “up to a year after the spill. Scientists have found no evidence, however,” that they “have caused fish numbers to drop in Louisiana’s estuaries.” Even the ants are starting to “come back and stay.”

Blum & Bergeron exports dried shrimp and is in its third generation of family ownership. It was just recovering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita when, according to Louis Blum Jr., “Here comes BP.” He says: “It ruined our industry and us for the whole year.” Blum had to let his employees go and nearly closed the business forever. The International Business Times reports: “The company eventually collected about $106,000 from BP.” While it has been a struggle, the employees are back and sales have “returned to pre-spill levels.”

BloombergBusiness confirms: “Wildlife populations have bounced back.” Though dolphins and oysters are an exception, reports indicate that both experienced elevated mortality rates beginning before the spill.

Oysters are fickle and are impacted by “salinity, water temperature, and parasites.” The freshwater used to flush out the oil, combined with Louisiana’s diversion of fresh water into the Gulf and Mississippi River flooding in 2011, have all reduced salinity. Science cites third-generation oysterman Pete Vujnovich’s story. “After the spill, he bought rock and shell for replenishing some of his reefs with money from a compensation fund set up by BP. Those areas seem to be doing well. But older reefs are much less fertile than they were before.” It continues: “Scientists don’t have an answer for him. In 2012 and 2013, researchers put cages of oysters in the bay, some in places with oil, others in places that had dodged the spill, to see how mature oysters fared. They didn’t see a difference.”

Marsh erosion is another problem that began before the spill but went “into overdrive” after. Science points out: Flood control projects along the Mississippi River starve the bay of fresh sediment from upstream. Now, vegetation has grown back and erosion rates have subsided.

In the popular vacation town of Grand Isle, whose beaches remained closed for three years, Jean Landry, a local program manager for The Nature Conservancy says: “This summer feels more positive than any in the last five years. You see people coming back to their summer homes rather than renting them out to cleanup workers.”

The water is clean and “according to the Food and Drug Administration tests on edible seafood, shows no excess of hydrocarbons in the region’s food supply.” It is important to realize, according to the National Research Council estimates, “every year, the equivalent of 560,000 to 1.4 million barrels of oil—perhaps a quarter of the amount that BP spilled—seeps naturally from the floor of the Gulf.”

“The overall message is upbeat,” according to Ed Overton, an LSU chemist, who has spent years tracking chemical changes in the Deepwater oil that washed ashore. As quoted in Science, Overton says: “I think the big story is, it’s remarkable how Mother Nature can cure herself. It’s really hard to find permanent impacts.” Likewise, CNN states: “Ocean conservationist Philippe Cousteau witnessed much of the spill’s aftermath in 2010, but when he returned to the Gulf to dive near an oil rig last month, he was astonished by the abundance of amberjacks, hammerhead sharks and other marine life he saw.”

The Deepwater Horizon spill has taught us a lot about the resiliency of Mother Nature. While the Macondo crude oil didn’t float to Ireland and the permanent impacts are “hard to find,” no one ever wants to experience anything like it again. The accident, according to the Journal of Petroleum Technology, “spawned new technology, improved safety practices, and better operations awareness.”

Some of the new technology to prevent spills from occurring includes major revisions to pressure control equipment and well design standards, such as casing and cementing. For example, new equipment that can shear and seal joints and eliminate non-shearable sections, and technology that can provide information on the wellbore environment in close to real time has been introduced.

Improved safety practice is the focus of the new Center for Offshore Safety (COS), formed by the industry in 2011. COS executive director Charlie Williams reports: “Today the energy industry has established nearly 300 standards to help govern safe and reliable offshore operations”—many of which have been adopted into the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE) new federal regulations.

Addressing operational awareness, Williams says: “I think there were many people that were prepared before Horizon. BSEE has required a lot of new things, including new ways of calculating how big a response you need.” He added: “The detail with which people understand the plan in both companies and the government has improved.”

“This tragedy has made us stronger as we continue to work to improve our state.” Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) said in a statement. “We have seen increased safety standards on deep-water production platforms in the Gulf, we have seen an increased spill response plan from the energy industry, and we will continue working to ensure the preservation of our beloved wetlands.”

The post-Deepwater Horizon world will continue to need oil and natural gas. Globally, and in the Gulf, drilling is continuing. While the industry will keep making changes and improvements based on the lessons learned at Macondo, we do not live in a risk-free world. We can manage and mitigate the potential hazards.

Dr. Rita Colwell, chairman of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, an independent organization that studies the Gulf of Mexico ecology, the effects of the spill, and methods for cleanup and restoration, said: “It’s very important to know after all the studies are done, the best lessons learned are of where we should go, how we should act and what we should institute if there is a massive spill. We would hope there isn’t, but we have to be realistic. Sometimes accidents happen, and how you go in to work very quickly to minimize the effect on the environment, to maximize the recovery of the oil, to enhance the degradation of whatever is persistent and to understand the public health effects is very important.”

The president of the National Ocean Industries Association, Randall Luthi, agrees. He told me: “No well is worth the loss of a life and the Macondo Well accident was exactly that, an accident. We, in industry, have taken the lessons learned from this in an effort to make a positive out of a very negative situation. By almost everyone’s account, we are wiser, safer and smarter. Our workers live in the Gulf of Mexico region, it is their home, where they work, fish, hunt and raise their families. No one wants another accident.”

Technology and safety standards are important. But, perhaps, the best lesson learned is one that could be applied to all hyperbolic claims about environmental collapse at the hands of mankind: Mother Nature is remarkably resilient. Within a short period of time, she can cure herself.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her

Marita: Sun and wind … free, but expensive to convert

Here’s the latest from Marita ….

The sun and the wind are free, but converting them to reliable electricity is expensive, if not impossible

In an effort to get America off of fossil fuels, “free” solar and wind energy is often touted as the solution. However, in reality, the so-called free energy has high costs and does little to minimize fossil-fuel use or cut greenhouse gases.

Because solar-and-wind energy are not available 24/7—also frequently referenced as not “dispatchable”—incorporating them into the electricity portfolio requires back-up power to be available on demand. When the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow, we still expect to have heating or air conditioning, cook our dinners, charge our phones, and use our computers. To do this, requires fossil fuels—typically natural gas “peaking plants,” but depending on what is available, it may be a coal-fueled power plant that is forced to operate inefficiently; releasing more CO2 than it would if allowed to operate as intended.

Think of it this way.

If you want to cook a hamburger, and you have a charcoal grill, you go outside about 30 minutes before you plan to cook. You mound up the charcoal, sprinkle it with lighter fluid, and toss on a match. When the coals are white on the edges, you know they are ready. You put your burger on the grill and cook it for five to eight minutes. Once you remove the burger, the coals are still hot for hours. Ultimately, they burn down to ashes and are cold enough that you can throw them into your plastic trash can, or into the forest. To restart it later in the same day is not efficient.

By comparison, if you are going to cook that same hamburger over natural gas, or propane, you go out five minutes before you plan to grill to heat up the elements. You cook your burger, and you turn it off. No coals, no cool down needed.

Power plants function in a similar fashion.

A coal-fueled power plant cannot easily be turned on and off. It works most efficiently—i.e. cleanly—when it burns continuously. Like the grill, you can add more coal throughout the process to keep the temperature up, which creates the steam that generates electricity.

But, with a natural-gas-fueled power plant, you can easily turn it on and off. So when the wind suddenly stops blowing—with no warning, the gas plant can quickly ramp up to generate the needed power.

As Germany, with the highest implementation of renewable energy of any country, found out, to maintain grid stability, it needs the coal- and natural-gas-fueled power plants. As a result of its policies that favor renewables, such as solar and wind, Germany has had to subsidize its fossil fueled power plants to keep them open.

So, by adding solar and wind power, to the energy mix, we actually increase costs by paying for redundant power supplies—which ultimately, through rate increases, hurts the less fortunate who also have to cover the costs of the renewables.

In the cold weather of Albuquerque’s winter, I received a call from an “unemployed single mother living in an 800 square-foot apartment.” When I answered the phone, she dumped on me. She was angry. Her life circumstances meant she didn’t turn on her heat because she couldn’t afford it. After stating her position, she ranted at me: “I just opened up my utility bill. I see that I am paying $1.63 a month for renewable energy.” She continued: “I don’t give a f#*! about renewable energy! Why do I have to pay for it?”

I tried to steer her attention away from the utility company and toward the Legislature that nearly a decade ago passed the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires increasing amounts of more expensive renewable energy. As a result, her rates went up, and she had no say in the matter—except that she may have voted for the legislators who approved the policy.

Recently, in Florida, the state NAACP chapter had an op-ed published that, essentially, said the same thing: renewable energy for some people, costs those who can least afford it.

It is not that renewable energy is bad. I have friends who live off the grid. They are cattle ranchers, who live in New Mexico’s Gila Forest. Were it not for their solar panels, they’d have no lights, no computers, no direct contact with the rest of the world. For them, solar panels on the roof—with a back-up system of car batteries—are their salvation. At a cost that worked for them, they were able to purchase used solar panels that someone else had discarded. They are grateful for their solar panels, but they have little option—and they know that; they accept it.

Without thinking of what works well in each situation, government has tried to apply a one-size-fits-all solution. Based on a phony narrative of energy shortages and global warming, err, climate change, renewables have been sold as the panacea. While they may be the right choice in a few cases, such as my cattle ranching friends, or even in the oil fields—which are one of the single biggest industrial users of solar power, many individual locales may be better served by coal, or natural gas, even nuclear, than by renewable power. But the mandates, or the EPA, have not taken that into consideration.

In New Mexico, there are two coal-fueled power plants situated, virtually, at the mouth of the coal mine. The coal is extracted and sent straight to the power plants that generate most of New Mexico’s power and provide enough excess to sell to neighboring Arizona and California. But, EPA regulations require that these plants, now, with years of useful service left, be shut down. Some of the units will be converted to natural gas—something the region also has in abundance. However, the natural gas has pipelines that can take it to the world markets; it is not stranded the in the San Juan Basin.

In contrast, the coal cannot conveniently leave the area—there is no rail to transport it. Looking at the specifics of the basin, it makes sense to continue to generate electricity from coal and allow the natural gas to benefit markets (perhaps even our allies) without other resources—but the EPA and its environmental advocates will hear nothing of it. Their ideology drives the policy whether it makes economic, or practical, sense or not.

Just try to bring truth or logic into the discussion and the crusaders will treat you as they have Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence.

Last month, I released a white paper: Solar power in the U.S. Using real-life data and news reports, we present the harsh realities of today’s solar market—which has reacted, not with facts, but by smearing me and the supposed funding of the organizations I lead. Apparently, when you have emotion and messaging on your side, you do not need to be impeded by facts—such as the sun and the wind are free, but converting them to electricity is expensive; converting them to reliable, albeit expensive, electricity is virtually impossible. Ah, but they never let the truth stand in the way of their feel-good story.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

 

Again: The Most UnReverend Al Sharpton

According to an article in the New York Post, Al Sharpton is not held in high esteem by many people that have experienced Al and his cohorts as they organize to put the NAN logo on everything moving or still.

The article provides both narrative and a video showing the work of James O’Keeth and some of his investigative team, Project Veritas

Here is a partial clip of the “Post,” story and a resource link to the story and the video

Al Sharpton is all about the Benjamins, a daughter of police chokehold victim Eric Garner claims in a bombshell videotape.

Erica Snipes tees off on the reverend as interested primarily in money during a conversation secretly recorded by controversial conservative activist James O’Keefe’s group, Project Veritas.

Here’s the link to the story and the video is included on the article page:

New York Post

Don’t forget to give the Related Stories a look.  You’ll find them below.

woodsEnd Church Food Distribution 2.20.15

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Conspiracy Brews 2.14.15

If you like your coffee and your politics flavorful, served with a heaping dose of civility by a diverse group of interesting people from all parts of the political spectrum then you should be joining us every Saturday. Started in 2007 over coffee and lively conversation by a group of concerned friends and neighbors, ‘Conspiracy Brews’ is committed to finding solutions to some of our State’s toughest problems. Our zest for constructive political discourse is only equaled by our belief that the only way forward is to exchange our views in a relaxed and friendly setting. For additional information or to be added to our e-mail list contact: ConspiracyBrews@aol.com.
Conspiracy Brews

“Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.”

Benjamin Franklin
Not your average political discussion group!
February 14, 2015
9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
at
Southwest Secondary Learning Center
10301 Candelaria Rd NE
(northwest corner of Candelaria and Morris)

We think that government should be open and honest at all times.
People from all political parties are welcome.
*** Quotes of the Week ***
“Truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

“A sailor without a destination cannot hope for a favorable wind.”
Leon Tec M.D.

Suggested Topics

— Do you go to government for your soul (individuals or corporations) ?
http://cnsnews.com/news/article/eric-scheiner/rep-cummings-people-come-government-feed-their-souls

— Sexual harassment in AFD… will the Major handle this charge better than APD?

— What do you think of the Albuquerque Epicenter for Entrepreneurs?
http://www.abqjournal.com/539681/biz/biz-most-recent/entrepreneur-epicenter-to-open-downtown.html
(Light Quotes of the week)
“The greatest justice in life is that your vision and looks tend to go simultaneously.”

Kevin Bacon

“I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.”

Mark Twain

“There’s an old saying about those who forget history. I don’t remember it but it’s good.”

Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report, March 10, 2008

——-

“He,” hangs out with the strangest women and men

We are talking about our stellar president.  You know, the one with great difficulty in finding a tongue to say, “Islamic Jihadist,” or anything similar.

He has now opened up his home and our White House, to people proven to be those words.  The Clarion has the story that he and his minions would not admit to.

Right here to start:

US President Barack Obama, privately met with 14 Muslim leaders, including several leaders of Muslim Brotherhood front groups with ties to Hamas.

By Elliot Friedland

Sun, February 8, 2015

The White House has released the names of senior American Muslim leaders that President Obama met with personally last week. The list of names was included on the transcript of the White House daily press briefing on Thursday, despite journalists having requested the information much sooner. Prior to that, the White House had refused to name the leaders.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with the President meeting with representatives from any faith community and with the Muslim community in particular. Yet some of the individuals who met with the President have alarming links to the Muslim Brotherhood and organizations that have funded terrorism.

Azhar Azeez represented the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in the talks with Obama. Declassified FBI documents show that ISNA was identified as a Muslim Brotherhood front group as early as 1987 and its past leaders include Abdurrahman Alamoudi, who was convicted on terrorism related charges in 2004 …

Follow this link for more

Editor: Shamefully there is so much more to demonstrate how Obama throws caution to the wind and slaps American citizens across their face with with people who either are themselves terrible murderers … or lay with sadists who are.

 

 

Marita Noon: Oil At $200 a Barrel — Not Likely


OPEC prediction of $200 a-barrel-oil ignores market realities—or maybe not

OPEC’s Secretary General Abdulla al-Badri made headlines when he announced that the oil price may have bottomed out—indeed, we had four straight days of increase—and predicted “you will see more than $200 when it comes to future oil prices.”

Al-Badri makes a strong argument. In the current reduced-oil-price environment, we see oil companies cut back on budgets, curtail exploration, and pull in rigs—as in many places it costs more to get the oil out of the ground than the present sales price. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports: “the number of rigs drilling in the U.S. has sunk to a three-year low.” Reuters states: “The rig count is down 29 percent from its October peak … a clear sign of the pressure that tumbling crude prices have put on oil producers.”

In today’s market for crude oil, a reduction in the number of drilling rigs in the U.S. does not mean overall production declines. It only means less future production, Tim Snyder, an energy economist with Lubbock, Texas, based Pro Petroleum Inc., who analyzes trends to help his company, and others, make educated decisions and manage risk, told me: “We anticipate a decrease in ‘new’ production in the U.S. as exploration and production companies reallocate capital expenditures and reduce drilling exposure.”

Economics 101 tells us that less supply results in higher prices. Addressing the recent up-tick in prices, Yahoo News says: “Investors bet supplies would tighten in the long term because major oil companies were scaling back investments and drilling to cope with falling prices.

Al-Badri extrapolates this scenario out to a future of $200 a-barrel oil.

What he apparently misses is that as soon as prices increase, activity in the oil industry will pick back up. Snyder says: “Once prices reach the $70-75 per barrel range, the more complex drilling solutions begin to become attractive and we will see new production increasing; putting downward pressure on prices all over again.

There are plenty of smaller companies that can be very nimble. The equipment they have pulled and the employees whose jobs they cut can get back in the field quickly—in fact, they must. Every day that equipment sits on a lot, they are losing money. The trained talent wants to be working.

Yes, it will take some time to get the bigger projects up and running again and to build the needed infrastructure, but as prices climb, more and more production will come back online—bringing balance to the markets.

When prices are high, human ingenuity comes in and finds a solution—which is how the technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing combined to unleash America’s new era of energy abundance and helped lower prices worldwide.

Maybe al-Badri’s comments were designed to talk the markets up—after all, several OPEC countries’ economies are grim due to the drop in oil prices. For example, oil-rich Venezuela is facing default and is rationing food. Business Insider reports: “The country is broke … in large part because oil prices are so low. And now … its economic crisis is leading to a health crisis”—a pack of 36 condoms costs about $750. Both Venezuela and Iran have called “for OPEC’s cooperation in stabilizing oil prices,” but Saudi Arabia—OPECs biggest producing member—is maintaining its current output.

Al-Badri is not stupid. He has held several high-ranking positions in his native Libya, starting in 1990 as Minister for Oil. He was appointed Secretary General for OPEC in 2007. His January 26 $200-a-barrel prediction focuses on the future production losses that will result from the industry pulling back—which, as outlined above, are not likely to result in $200 oil.

Snyder believes al-Badri may be signaling something bigger: “The only way for prices to reach the level mentioned is for there to be a decline in available supply through a disruption in production or a break in the supply chain.”

Libya, al-Bardi’s homeland, has the largest oil reserves in Africa. It, according to the WSJ, “helped trigger the world-wide rout in oil prices” when it “surprised the world with a sudden burst of new oil” last summer. However, as Reuters points out: “Libya is in the middle of a struggle between two governments and parliaments allied to armed factions fighting for legitimacy and territory.” In the WSJ, Richard Mallinson, an analyst at London-based consultancy Energy Aspects explains: “There was an implicit agreement between the different factions to avoid disrupting oil production. Now the parties have realized that controlling oil means power.” As a result of the fighting, “Libyan oil output has fallen to about 325,000 barrels a day in January from nearly 900,000 barrels a day in October.”

The situation in Libya is deteriorating and western oil companies are pulling out. Then, on Sunday, security guards at the last functioning export port, that used to export 120,000 barrels a day, went on strike because their salaries were not being paid—which closed the port and lowers Libya’s oil output to less than 300,000 barrels a day.

Libya does have one remaining port open, but it is used to supply the Zawiya refinery with crude rather than for export. Reuters states: “All other ports and most oilfields have shut down due to fighting nearby or pipeline blockages by rival factions.”

Snyder posits: “Maybe al-Badri is telling the world that, left unattended, the rapid increase in terrorist activity seen lately could be the only thing to lead to the $200 level in crude oil—which will have catastrophic results.”

With Jordan’s accelerated air strikes, and the United Arab Emirates rejoining the fight against ISIS, added to the already troubled situation in Libya, a major supply disruption becomes extremely plausible.

Maybe al-Badri is right—though not for the reasons he outlined. Maybe he knows more than his simplistic explanation revealed. If he is, if he does, the U.S. is going to need every drop of oil found within our borders, including the Arctic resources that President Obama just proposed be permanently put off limits.

With the current low oil prices, we can easily think that we have too much oil already—after all, last week’s sudden price drop came after the release of official data remain a factor and, if al-Badri is correct, America’s energy abundance can provide us with energy security and global stability—not to mention the economic benefit of supplying our allies with oil and refined-petroleum products. Suddenly, the Keystone pipeline’s critical role becomes perfectly clear.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

A gift from a baby president in learning

I apologize for the absence.  I can only say that although I have a fair tolerance for pain, it is difficult to create or even think straight when it is constant, no matter the level.  Those with back surgeries that have been dismal failures will know what I mean.

I will try to do better going forward and although I am not in the least asking for pity, please deal me a little forbearance.

I believe the title describes an individual that seems to be in a crib playing at being president.  I am no expert on matters of diplomacy, but I know a mistake when I see one, and there’s no doubt in my mind … America has made  a colossal blunder in electing Obama a two-time chief executive of this country.

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