Another rig burns, showing need for more oversight

With the well finally capped in the Gulf of Mexico and oil no longer gushing, oil and gas companies had ramped up their lobbying against new regulations. Even when the well was still gushing thousands of barrels a day, they claimed new regulations weren’t necessary, but capping the well, they believed, would help them make their case. They figured lawmakers would quickly forget the disaster.

But yesterday, another rig caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico. There are significant differences in the two fires: no workers were killed; Mariner Energy’s well was in shallow water; and, so far, no oil appears to be spilling into the Gulf. Still, the explosion  fire was a bit of bad timing for oil companies. From the WSJ:

But the towering column of smoke in the Gulf, 245 miles from where the Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20, provoked an outcry from environmental groups and politicians in Washington already skeptical of offshore drilling.

And it complicated the energy industry’s effort to portray BP PLC’s massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill as a fluke that shouldn’t have provoked a drilling moratorium, some energy experts said.

Kevin Book, managing director of research at ClearView Energy Partners LLC, a consulting firm with many energy clients, said that another accident in the Gulf, albeit minor compared with the April blowout, could prompt the Democratic Congress to push for greater changes.

Certain lawmakers’ perceptions “that oil and gas production is safe is not affirmed by this disaster,” he said. “And worse, the idea that regulation is adequate is definitely not affirmed.”

The fact of the matter is that rigs catch fire and spew oil frequently, without news media attention to the accidents. Oil companies have operated for decades with little regard for the environment:

Fires aren’t uncommon offshore, especially at older platforms like Mariner’s, said Ray Kizer, an analyst at energy consultancy IHS. Mariner took over the platform, known as Vermilion 380-A, several years ago, but it has been operating for three decades.

The platform has a history of maintenance and repair issues, according to federal records. Government inspectors found an unusually high number of serious problems aboard the platform in both 2004 and 2005, and the facility was later damaged by Hurricane Ike.

And a Republican Congress is unlikely to ramp up regulations. So, we expect more oil rig disasters.

246 comments Add your comment

granny godzilla

September 3rd, 2010
7:51 am

More oversight? Hell yes.

I think somebody should be looking very carefully at the Shell Nautilus deep water rig.

Jethro

September 3rd, 2010
7:56 am

I have to agree. If they won’t take action for themselves to “clean up their act,” as it were, Congress should do it for them – be that Congress Democrat or Republican controlled. Kind of a no-brainer.

Peadawg

September 3rd, 2010
8:03 am

There was a fire in the kitchen at McDonald’s but there were no injuries…the government must need to regulate McDonald’s now.

There was a puddle of water at Wal-Mart that someone slipped in…they must need regulating too.

There was a fight at a baseball game the other night…the government must need to MLB.

Why hasn’t the government stepped in after the Detroit/Indiana debacle a few years ago in the NBA?

The cashier shorted me some change the other night at the grocery store…when is the government going to step in?

Jack

September 3rd, 2010
8:07 am

We probably need government control over Tucker’s column.

Losers

September 3rd, 2010
8:16 am

No to regulation! I want cheap gas and I want it now! I an American! I’m entitled to it!

Bubba Bob

September 3rd, 2010
8:18 am

Cynthia,

I don’t have an issue with more regulation to make sure we protect our environment.

Now, can we have more regulation on our out of control government spending and the huge amount of fraud that goes on in the entitlement programs?

Call it like it is

September 3rd, 2010
8:22 am

Cynthia, Cynthia, Cynthia. Honey did a Rebublican break your heart or what? You kill me, you talk about regulations, caring for the gulf and then have to get in that little jab at the very end. “REPUBLICANS WILL NOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!” WE ARE ALL DOOOMED!!! Your right Cynthia, the Republicans will be in charge soon and America will go to hell in a hand basket. You should leave now and avoid the rush. I hear Greenlead has some cheap land, you could go there and start your very own empire. Make sure you put up a sign, NO REPUBLICANS!

Peadawg

September 3rd, 2010
8:25 am

Call it like it is, yup b/c the Democrats are doing such a fantastic job! :)

Keep up the good fight!

September 3rd, 2010
8:27 am

Pea…

When your family dies in a building that catches fire because of violations of building code, you’ll ask where were the regulators.

When you slip in that puddle of water that was known to be there for hours and was not taken care of and you have no health coverage, you’ll ask what recourse do you have and why was not more done (especially if you may never walk again).

If there was a fight at a game, there are laws and arrests can be made…..just as when you whine about a tea partier getting beaten up and demand the law react.

When there was an oil spill you whined why is the government not doing more, this is Obama’s Katrina……

I feel for the daily difficulty you must have being some many of the characters from the Wizard of Oz…you know “if I only had a brain… if I only had a heart…”

Peadawg

September 3rd, 2010
8:32 am

Keep, why so serious? My post was supposed to be sarcastic and an exaggeration. Laugh a little Keep. What’s with all the hate at the end of your post?

Dave

September 3rd, 2010
8:36 am

There was no oil leaking because it is not an active well.

Peadawg

September 3rd, 2010
8:38 am

“There was no oil leaking because it is not an active well.”

It doesn’t matter. There was another accident so the government must step in! :roll:

Keep up the good fight!

September 3rd, 2010
8:39 am

Pea…a strange sense of humor…. Daily I hear from people who have suffered tragedy at the hands of business ignoring regulations or where good regulation is needed. I see their suffering. I see people making money because they decided to put these people at risk and you want to laugh at that? And the people harmed by this fire?

Your “humor” was made with a point of view and an agenda. You can own up to it and take responsibility or you can whine about hate. Yes I hate when statements show ignorance of the real issues out there even when disquised in so-called humor that is far from humorous.

A Lumpkin Resident

September 3rd, 2010
8:42 am

Accidents happen. Accidents will ALWAYS happen. You can’t mine, or build sky scrapers or drill for oil without occasional accidents. No amount of regulation will prevent accidents. IF, Cynthia, you can point to even ONE regulation that would have prevented this particular fire, then by all means do so. Otherwise, your call for more regulation for something that might not even be preventable shows reactionary ignorance of reality.

paleo-neo-Carlinist

September 3rd, 2010
8:43 am

obviously, some regulations are necessary – just as some taxes are necessary. the problem is, Americans need to self-regulate. we need to disincentivise (sic) the extraction and refinement of petroleum. we need to reduce demand. Big Oil and lobbyists are just doing what Big Oil and lobbyists do. our addiction to oil is their leverage. everyone dismissed Bill Maher when he compare the “war on terrorism” to to WWII when he suggested that driving a car excessively helps bin Laden. well, it’s the same with oil companies. consumers can “regulate” via the cash box. I know this is tough, and MARTA is more aggrevating than blogging, but it can be done.

Peadawg

September 3rd, 2010
8:44 am

Good grief Keep lighten up dude…didn’t get much sleep last night or something? Not a morning person? Talk about debby downer…geeze.

My money is my money

September 3rd, 2010
8:45 am

Pea – don’t worry about KUTGF – she’s mad because it’s the third of the month and she hasn’t received her gov’t check yet.

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
8:45 am

paleo-neo-Carlinist@8:43, Sorry, but self-regulation doesn’t work. That’s essentially what the oil industry has had for the last decade. In a capalist system, the human impulse is to maximize profits. There is nothing wrong with that. But there has to be a countervailing force: stronger government oversight.

Bubba Bob

September 3rd, 2010
8:46 am

Keep,

“Daily I hear from people who have suffered tragedy at the hands of business ignoring regulations or where good regulation is needed.”

Daily? Really? Everyday you hear from people who have suffered TRAGEDY at the hands of regulation ignoring businesses? What do you do for a living? Some kind of attorney?

granny godzilla

September 3rd, 2010
8:47 am

Keep up the good fight!

September 3rd, 2010
8:49 am

Lumpkin…how many regulations were violated by BP in its recent disaster or do you want to maintain that there was not one?

Accidents can happen. And when they do, smart people dont sit back and say “Oh no need to look futher, accidents happen.” Government and others including businesses need to look at the cause and chain of events (often it is a number of items) that caused the accident and then look at what can be done better. Government’s role is to create the base regulations by which all enterprise must compete.

The fact that it is proven that regulation has been lax in this entire industry and that a number of accidents have occured and lives harmed or lost, that so far it has been determined that human errors caused the accidents and that they could have been prevented, that the industry wrote their own safety regulations, and checked off their own reports, including falsification of compliance…. now that is reality.

Keep up the good fight!

September 3rd, 2010
8:49 am

Bubba….yep, an attorney

TINSTAAFL

September 3rd, 2010
8:51 am

Has it occurred to you that it is not good PR wise, or financially for a company’s oil rig to blow up? Have you considered that (SHOCKER), sometimes accidents happen, and the oil companies are not actually out to destroy the world in their evil quest for profit. I direct you to Peadawg’s post above. Sometimes accidents happen. Fortunately in this case, the training that companies spend million to billion on kept the workers alive. Deepwater Horizen sounded like criminal negligence to me, but then BP has had a history of neglecting safety. You, oh great sage of all industrial protocol, don’t need to sling mud at an entire industry, or make sweeping generalities to an entire industry. If you worked in the oiil industry for a single day, you would understand that the safety culture at most companies is practically overbearing. Adding further regulation on top of that won’t change anything. Like I said, it tends to be bad for a company when its feedstocks are destroyed, and its employees die.

Keep up the good fight!

September 3rd, 2010
8:52 am

Money…. wow, an attack on my purportedly not getting a govt check…except I am not a female and I have my own business and pay more in taxes that many earn.

paleo-neo-Carlinist

September 3rd, 2010
8:52 am

CT, I wasn’t suggesting Big Oil self-regulate. I’m pretty sure there were regulations in place at Deepwater, which were ignored by BP. I hate to change metaphors mid-stream, but this is like both ends of the immigration debacle; enforce the regulations already on hand. I fail to see the value in drafting a new slew of regulations to be ignored (or, in many cases, paying a fine is more profitable than changing the business model). the only way to “regulate” the oil companies is by Americans regulating the amount of product they consume. the monkey is out of the cage as far as out addiction, but as with the Banking/Wall Street regulations, toothless, meaningless legislation is not the answer (oh, I sold my car in May – I haven’t purchased gas since – save a rental while on vacation last month).

Bubba Bob

September 3rd, 2010
8:53 am

ctucker, (8:45)

Come on. Use the same argument for government spending. They are not regulating themselves either. They are maximizing the profits back to their districts and to their pet projects. Why no complaining about that?

Dee

September 3rd, 2010
8:53 am

Oil rigs in the Gulf were doing just fine until this year. What’s up with that?

BTW, my mom’s long term care ins. just sent notifications that her premiums are going up by 30% 30%!!!!!!!!!!! In a recession! Hang on to your hats folks! Obama-care is just getting started.

Bubba Bob

September 3rd, 2010
8:56 am

Dee,

You are reading that wrong. They would have went up 60% so Obamacare saved you 50% right there.

The Leg Lamp is a "major award", much like Cynthia Tucker's Pulitzer and Obama's Nobel.

September 3rd, 2010
8:56 am

“WRONG WAY: UNEMPLOYMENT CLIMBS TO 9.6%”

Boy, I’m sure glad we had the “Recovery Summer”.

Keep up the good fight!

September 3rd, 2010
8:59 am

Dee…Health insurance reform has not yet kicked in on regulations…..that is the wonderful abusive insurance industry at work but ya know you love that free market. Aren’t you happy they can do that…and raise it even more while there is no regulation.

Red Hill Rebel

September 3rd, 2010
8:59 am

Oversite from a government of lying, stealing tyrants that have us in a 13 trillion dollar deficit.
I’m sure they’ll do a fine job !

Tommy Maddox

September 3rd, 2010
9:00 am

I’m with Losers @ 8:16. Since this is the age of ENTITLEMENT, give us our cheap gas!

Some People are stupid

September 3rd, 2010
9:03 am

Isn’t cheap gas what the Iraq war was about??

godless heathen

September 3rd, 2010
9:04 am

Quiz: What will do more damage to the residents of the La., the BP oil spill or the deep water drilling moratorium?

stw

September 3rd, 2010
9:05 am

CT: The garbage man dropped some trash in the street this morning, perhaps a trash czar could ride along for a few weeks so this doesn’t happen again..Say, maybe you could be that czar since thats all your columns contain…

My money is my money

September 3rd, 2010
9:06 am

KUTGF – I was just hoping to raise your blood pressure – seems as though I succeeded. So you are a lawyer – I should have known. That explains your moniker and your comments.

Keep up the good fight!

September 3rd, 2010
9:06 am

Godless…a false dichotomy. It is not one or the other.

godless heathen

September 3rd, 2010
9:06 am

When libs say “regulate” they mean “ban”.

Mallory

September 3rd, 2010
9:07 am

Where there’s smoke, you’ll find a democrat hiding in its midst. Where there’s a mirror, you’ll find Obama looking like a deer caught in the headlights. His well of knowledge isn’t that deep.

KUTGF is a Commie

September 3rd, 2010
9:07 am

KUTGF…those folks that suffer tragedy every day? That’s called life. The person who slips on water…DON’T STEP IN THE WATER!!! Account for your own friggin’ safety. If Wal-Mart subjects their customers to such horrendous shopping conditions….DON’T SHOP THERE!!!! In your pathetic world, everybody’s a victim and everybody’s entitled. Why don’t you let everyone on this blog know where your own personal business is located so we can all go there and “have an accident” and sue you out of business…which I am sure you wouldn’t take issue with since you’re such the “victim advocate.”

dougmo2

September 3rd, 2010
9:07 am

Cynthia are you stating that Republicans WANT oil rig disasters? If so please use any historical data or referances to defend that statement.

Blue

September 3rd, 2010
9:07 am

“And a Republican Congress is unlikely to ramp up regulations. So, we expect more oil rig disasters.” Wow, for a minute there, I thought we were going to get through an entire article without you blaming SOMETHING on the GOP. Nice save, and just in the nick of time! By the way, who controls Congress right now…while these things are happening? OHHHH…my bad…the default answer from the extreme left (i.e., Cynthia Tucker) will be “it started wtih Bush”.

Keep up the good fight!

September 3rd, 2010
9:08 am

money…silly tart….my blood pressure is never raised by silliness or even some of the stupidity some may try to pass off as commentary or intelligence.

godless heathen

September 3rd, 2010
9:08 am

Good fight: You weren’t asked to choose one or the other. Just consider which one is the disaster.

granny godzilla

September 3rd, 2010
9:09 am

Blue

Who does control congress now?

The Leg Lamp is a "major award", much like Cynthia Tucker's Pulitzer and Obama's Nobel.

September 3rd, 2010
9:10 am

“TIME: MR. UNPOPULAR…”

Time is reporting on Obama as Mr. Unpopular? Are the end of times near?

The Leg Lamp is a "major award", much like Cynthia Tucker's Pulitzer and Obama's Nobel.

September 3rd, 2010
9:11 am

‘Voted Obama? Embarrassed Yet?’ billboard leads to death threats…

T-Town

September 3rd, 2010
9:12 am

You can have the strongest regulations in the world and people will still find a way around them. Many areas of the country have enacted regulations/bans on texting. For a couple of weeks I saw few people doing it, but now that the hoopla is over I’ve noticed more and more people texting while they drive like no law was enacted. One major city in Ohio, who’s had the ban on for a year, has written 6 tickets. Why? Tough to observe the violation and even tougher to prosecute.

Do regulations/laws against drunk driving stop this type of activity? How about regulations stating you must have a valid driver’s license, registration, and insurance to operate a vehicle. Has this stopped those who don’t comply from driving? More regulations/laws are inevitable, but unless you can regulate people to be more responsible you are fighting a losing battle.

Some People are stupid

September 3rd, 2010
9:12 am

KUTGF is a Commie-

Your argument is pretty silly…HOw do you account for your own friggin safety in a car accident…for the slipping of the water, you assume the person saw the water and purposely stepped in it..if a wet spot isn’t marked…kinda hard to see it on walmarts white floors

Hootinanny Yum Yum

September 3rd, 2010
9:13 am

More oversight is needed. Yes.

Of the economy. Unemployment ticks up for the first time in four months.