How has the Gulf oil spill affected your view of America’s energy future?

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico threatens environmental and economic disaster. Today’s Question: How has the Gulf oil spill affected your view of America’s energy future?

  • Gary F

    China and Cuba have a joint agreement to drill for oil 20 miles from the Florida coast.

    What do we do when their oil rig breaks?

  • Tony

    Not really. I’m kind of expecting oil companies to raise gas prices because of this. I’m also expecting to read, later on, how once again they’ve made record profits.

  • Steve

    None. We are addicted to oil and like an addict we will have to put up with the side effects.

  • jessica Sundheim

    This spill really made me think, “What can be done?” and “What can I do?” Due to all of the information I’ve been exposed to in my Environmental Literature class, I checked into a program that our local Otter Tail Power Company offers. I can pay a few more dollars per month per appliance and my energy needs will directly impact the growth of wind energy. The actual molecules generated by the turbines cannot be directed to my home, but the more people who sign on, the more the power company purchases energy from the wind turbines in the surrounding counties. So, this past Sunday I thought, “if I can stop getting my electricity from coal, maybe I can take a Sabbath from oil for one day per week.”

    My husband jumped on board with the idea, and we created a facebook group “One Day Without Oil” (in hope that one day we may live without oil) to encourage ourselves and our friends. Then, came the tough part because everything comes to us via oil and wrapped in oil. For example how are we going to get protein on that day? Even the organic, free range chickens are plastic wrapped. The tofu comes in a plastic container after being shipped. We’ll have to go catch something (fish or rabbit), raise chickens for eggs, or bike to a local farm to pick up some meat with our own containers. There a lot of planning involved for a simple one day, weekly boycott of oil.

    The exercise has taught me so much about America’s energy needs. First and formost – There is a lot to think about when it comes to our energy needs and each one of us needs to start thinking about it!!! – It’s going to take more than a phone call to the local power company and a paying few extra dollars per month, or creating a facebook group.

    It seems these days everything boils down to my favorite Japanese proverb: “Vision without action is a daydream, action without vision is a nightmare.” The time has come for me and my family to stop daydreaming and contributing to the nightmare. The time has come to envision a future without oil and act on that vision.

  • Josiah

    Strengthened my resolve that we need to move away from oil as a nation.

    I’m very excited for companies like Tesla Motors innovating amazing electric vehicles that can move us away from gasoline.

    I hope that this tragedy helps inspire us as a nation to innovate new solutions, rather than stick with the status quo.

  • dmox

    It has only strengthened my position that we need to make a major policy change & shift. We need a roadmap to energy independence that lays out specific plans and time lines to ramp down oil, and build and ramp up solar, wind & wave technology. We need to write our elected officials, as there is currently no one brave enough to forward this kind of plan. We need to let our voices be heard that we think the time is now, and that we are not children who need to be coddled, we understand there are consequences.

  • Lois

    I’m glad we heat with oil. Now we have a new wood stove that I can also cook on if necessary. I can be independent if I need to be. Except that I need electricity for this computer. :-)

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    I remember reading a few years ago about the “wonderful” new technologies that would enable America to tap huge, new oil reserves in very deep water off of our coasts. The first thing that came to mind as I was reading it was “what happens if there is a deep water rupture or a drilling platform is destroyed by a strong hurricane”. The matter wasn’t mentioned in the article. I guess we know now…

  • Greg of Roseville

    change ? well I’ve decided that the US policy on sea-floor oil drilling needs to adopt the Norwegian requirement for a secondary emergency shutoff system. Currently only two countries require it, but … looks like it would have saved or avoided (1) a billion plus dollars in clean up expense, (2) the disruption of hundreds of thousands of lives anmd businesses (3) the sliming of the US gulf coast …. Its REINFORCED the conivingly obtuse nature of corporations. from the coerced statements that employees were requried to sign before being released to families – to the “Settlement” teams that were convincing gulf-coasters to sign away their rights for $5000 cash (unitl the states and feds gave them the cease and desist). -0 YURK.

  • http://www.helium.com/users/399932 Michael W Shepard

    The twisted paradigm of demonic collusion between big oil and the fed is gushing to revelation with this 26 million gallon (to date) spill. Why government did not force industry to put pre-planned and immediate containment measures in place for just such a predicted disaster is incontrovertible evidence of big oil owning government. Confirmation of this perverted belief comes from Republican candidates’ mouths when they pontificate: “government needs to serve us!”"

    Perhaps this catastrophe is what is needed to break the back of big oil and the politicians they stable in government. And then again, maybe pigs can fly.

    The future is thwarted by terrified power. Forty years ago was too late to start reduction of fossil fuel consumption. One can only hope this grotesquely obese pig of big oil experiences diabetic shock from its own capitalistic greed.

    Only after demise of oil oligopoly can the world transcend itself to modern energy technology.

  • David McPherson

    If the price of gasoline truly reflected the actual cost of oil (environmental, military, and social cost), then we would quickly develop alternative energy, and become better at conservation. These changes would promote our local economy and help reduce the incidence of obesity. We would buy less oil from foreign sources and thus, stop supporting hostile regimes. I know, it makes too much sense.

  • jane burnes leverenz

    First I have been a strong supporter of seeking alternative energy for 40 years.

    what I felt was a deep sadness especially about the innocent Turtles whom have parished and any other eco system we have effected by our thirst for oil.

    I am more determined to move on and shall support Preparedness even more! There are so many signs everywhere telling us we are wrong that only greed is the determining factor in all this. It is a sorry world when they go to church on sundays and raped the Earth the other 6 days a week! We haven’t recovered from Exon Valdez we may never recover from this reckless act!!!

  • Lawrence Baker

    One option (out of the box) that should have been acted on first would have been to drive containment piles next to the open pipe. In this manner you surround the open pipe with a larger ring of larger pipe and then close in on the open pipe; eventually the pipe is either sleeved over by the larger pipe or is bent over and crimped shut stopping the flow. It is not easy but it can be done. A floating raft of pile driving barges controlled by tug boats by GPS positioning could be positioned over the open pipe. Chances are that the wreckage is not over the site because things never fall straight down for 5,000 ft. under water. The special problems of driving pile at 5,000 ft. (2,227 lbs. per sq in. Hydrospheric Pressure) can be overcome by engineering. It would take 83 sections of welded 60’ pipe and 82 pressure valves (controls hydrostatic pressure in pipe) to get to that dept and as the pile is hammered into the sea floor it seals the end of the pile. Even if there is no well head pipe and an open crack in the sand is pouring out oil and gas on the sea floor; by surrounding it with piling, eventually the circle will be closed and then by pouring cement inside the containment, the open flow could be stopped.

  • Wisesooth

    I knew some petroleum engineers from a company I worked for as an IT guy. What I learned from them is a bit dated, but it may be worth sharing.

    The oil rigs shown in the old movies are not used anymore. The drill motor and bit are self contained like a torpedo. Electrical cables and steel cables lower and retract the submerssible drill rig. Computer signals control its speed and direction.

    An offshore oil rig starts by drilling a hole in the ocean floor large enough to fit a very strong 60-inch diameter steel pipe that they call “60-inch casing.” When the drill starts, they announce that the well is “spudded.” That stops the delay-rental fees.

    The crew that operates the drilling rig are called “roughnecks.” When the hole is deep enough to penetrate through a dense rock layer called “bedrock”, they plant that pipe into the hole and cement it firmly (set casing). This includes a cement cap at the bottom of the inside of the pipe. This is the last line of defense if a well gets out of control called a “gusher.” Fishermen, environmentalists and beach property owners have more colorful words to describe a gusher, but I will leave that to the reader for further research. If all else fails, or the well is a “dry hole”, the 60 inch casing is filled with cement under pressure to seal the hole and the top of the casing is capped.

    After the roughnecks set casing, they proceed to drill up to 36 smaller holes inside the 60 inch casing and angle the trajectory outward from the center until they reach the oil reservoir. Each hole is protected by its own casing. They call this “whipstocking.”

    Contrary to popular opinion, oil reservoirs are not underground oil lakes. They are more like oil-saturated sand pits. Oil has to flow through the sand to reach the oilman’s “drinking straw.” That is why they use 36 holes angled away from the center of the well.

    When a hole reaches the reservoir, the roughnecks want to increase oil flow around the end of the casing. They lower a tube loaded with steel bullets. When it reaches beyond the bottom of the casing, those critters fire in all directions. Roughnecks call this “fragging the hole.” In the old days, oilmen would drop dynamite down the casing to do the same thing with unpredictable side effects.

    As the roughnecks drill, one of the crew, called the “mud engineer”, watches the pressure gauge very closely. At any time, they may drill into a high-pressure gas cap that could throw the drill bit and everything behind it back up the hole like one huge canon ball through a very long barrel. The mud engineer equalizes the pressure and cools the drill bit with a mud slurry tall enough to balance the pressure at the bottom of the hole. Herein lies the danger of oil drilling. If the mud engineer cannot control the pressure fast enough, the drill bit is launched. Since the drill is electrically operated, the electrical cables, drilling mud, and whatever follows shoots up the hole like a rocket. Electrostatic charge or sparked wiring can light the gas and create an inferno. That is when roughnecks start swimming and hope to clear the oil slick before it catches fire. If the small casing is not firmly anchored, it also launches and may crack the cement plug at the bottom of the 60 inch casing. Worse, there may be enough pressure to launch the entire plug, including the other tubes already drilled and fragged. If that 60-inch casing is launched, the word “hell” takes on a whole new meaning. That is when the well flows oil uncontrolled at is maximum flow rate through a widening hole to create the mother of all oil slicks.

    One emergency remedy is to lower a bottomless tank on the open hole and flow the oil into waiting surface tankers. They call this a “top hat.” That works if the 60-inch casing is intact, but not if the casing is gone.

    Another emergency remedy is to hover a tethered string of rectangular-shaped bottomless containers to catch the oil as it rises above an uneven sea floor and catch most of the oil. Their name for this contraption is not printable.

    The last-resort remedy is to drill another well to relieve the pressure long enough to cement the hole. That may require more than one hole. That is dangerous drilling because the oil slick could catch fire. Obviously, those relief wells cannot drill too close to the trouble spot.

    Of course, an oil company could drill a relief well, set casing, and install a shutoff valve as a precaution, but that costs more money. If an earthquake produces the mother of all reservoir fragmentation, that relief well may not do much good anyway.

    Hopefully, the above information will give you enough technical insight to know what is going on that neither BP nor its contract driller would disclose to anyone, even under the duress of a congressional committee.

  • Robert Berger

    The oil business is quite complicated. Overall, oil supplies are likely to become tighter and prices continue to rise as unrest in the Middle East and increased expense for tapping less accessible reserves continues to manifest. The United States does not have a huge untapped reserve of easily produced oil. We have shale reserves which have huge costs associated, both financial and energetic. Oil sands and shale require huge amounts of water, and the deposits in the US are in water poor regions. Oil companies will make huge profits, much of which will be reinvested in exploration. We ought to proceed with production of available reserves in the US, but with caution. We have no readily available alternatives to oil for transportation. Liquid fuels are most convenient, ethanol can’t be scaled up to supply all of our cars. We can expect lots of change in the way we transport ourselves in the next 20 years; so far, it appears we will have a great deal of difficulty as oil production can no longer increase.