Who: BP, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig (owned by Transocean but leased to BP), and Haliburton (responsible for plugging holes in the pipeline).
What: The largest offshore spill in U.S. history. The numbers are fuzzy but estimates are somewhere between 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil per day. Today is day 80 of the spill, which means somewhere between 2.8 million and 4.8 million barrels have gushed into the Gulf. More incredible, the U.S. uses around 20 million barrels of oil per day. The oil spill so far, massive as it might be, represents only 15-25% of one day in U.S. oil consumption. If this doesn’t put our addiction in perspective, what will?
When: April 20, 2010-present.
How: Methane gas from the well shot up from the well, expanded, exploded, and sank the rig leaving a damaged and leaking wellhead.
Why: Lack of oversight? Bribery? Sheer accident? Consumer demand? Corporate greed? Faulty equipment? One bouncer we met on Bourbon St. (who used to work on offshore oil rigs) said the blame should be shared between the government, BP, and the rig’s equipment. He said that BP hit “the motherload” with this well and the equipment simply wasn’t adequate to handle the pressure of this heavy an oil flow, which BP should have known and regulators (like the Minerals Management Agency, which oversees offshore oil drilling) should have caught. Another man on Bourban St. said it’s all of our faults for using oil (Tom Friedman likes him). Perhaps the oddest accusation is that this spill is the fault of environmentalists who fight against drilling on land…