Guilty Planet

Let’s briefly compare the Exxon and BP spills.

Exxon oil estimated to have spilled into Prince William Sound: 11 million gallons
BP oil estimated to have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico: 172 million gallons

So when we talk about how BP’s Oil Spill Bill Could Dwarf Exxon’s Valdez Tab we should remember that BP’s oil spill also dwarfed Exxon’s. And is the assertion that the tab is bigger even true? Well, in nominal and real terms, yes.

Cost of the Exxon clean up: $2 billion (1989 dollars) or $3.58 billion (2010 dollars)*
Cost of the BP clean up: $6.1 billion (2010 dollars)

But if we standardize for size of the spill, BP’s tab is far too low. Given that the BP spill is more than 15 times larger than the Exxon spill, we should also assume they should spend 15 times more on cleanup than Exxon did, or around $53.7 billion dollars — $47.6 billion more than BP has spent.

*Assumes $1.00 in 1989 has the same buying power as $1.79 in 2010

Comments

  1. #1 Cerus
    August 11, 2010

    I hate BP’s handling of this as much as the next guy, but how did you determine the total cost of cleanup was linear?

    They’ve paid too little, and done too little. Maybe they should be on the hook for even more.

  2. #2 Douglas McClean
    August 11, 2010

    I think it’s reasonable to expect that the cleanup cost per gallon of spilled oil will be somewhat lower in real terms simply because the spill occurred so much further offshore (and therefore a lot of the oil never reached land, and many of its effects were rendered invisible).

  3. #3 Fred Magyar
    August 11, 2010

    Hey don’t worry there seems to be a massive orchestrated campaign to convince the public that everything is just fine…

    Between ads from BP showing all the pristine white sandy beaches and the MSM telling us about the quasi miraculous recovery of the marshes
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100811/ap_on_re_us/us_gulf_oil_spill_healing_marsh
    Do you think that Mr and Mrs J6Pk are ever going to worry about the larval stages of crustaceans lost amongst all the zooplankton? They’ll never know that they might have been impacted by deep sea hydrocarbon plumes! Not a chance…

  4. #4 Fred Magyar
    August 11, 2010

    Douglas,

    “(and therefore a lot of the oil never reached land, and many of its effects were rendered invisible).”

    Oh, out of sight and out of mind renders the effects nonexistent?

    So I guess it’s fine to give you a tank of invisible odorless CO to breathe during the night… I guess I wouldn’t be tried for murder if I used invisible gas.

  5. #5 Douglas McClean
    August 11, 2010

    No, Fred, it doesn’t, but it does render them beyond difficult to do much about, or even to assess. Reducing the harm by filtering the water or scouring the seabed looking for the oil that sank is clearly out of the question, which leaves reimbursing people with economic interests in fisheries etc.

    My point was, and is, that dilution being the solution to pollution, spills in coastal waters are going to do more damage (both assessable environmental damage and economic damage) than spills far offshore.

  6. #6 Tenebras
    August 12, 2010

    Forget a bill. Close down the company entirely, seize every cent in the bank, and make the CEOs pay out of their own pocket for cleanup costs, reimbursements for health care for all the clean up crews and workers, and a nice fat check to every family put out of work by this, for the next 20 years or more that this spill is going to be screwing us over. And if they don’t pay or can’t pay, they can be stuck doing community service for how ever many thousands of hours it would take to pay their bill. Community services like… going to the Gulf and cleaning up oil without proper protective gear, just like they forced their own workers to do.

    Let’s see how fast the rest of the oil companies straighten up when they have THAT as a punishment for this sort of BS.

    Not like it’s gonna happen though. “Justice” only exists for the rich humans. If you are not rich, or you are not human, you’re just all kinds of fucked.

  7. #7 Fred Magyar
    August 12, 2010

    “No, Fred, it doesn’t, but it does render them beyond difficult to do much about, or even to assess.”

    We now have a pretty good idea as to the real daily flow of oil released from the well. I don’t have the figures in front of me as to the fines that are on the books for each barrel spilled but I believe it’s on the order $4300.00 per barrel. So that part is a straight forward easy calculation.

    “My point was, and is, that dilution being the solution to pollution, spills in coastal waters are going to do more damage (both assessable environmental damage and economic damage) than spills far offshore.”

    I don’t follow your logic here. First I doubt if you can make the statement that compared to spills far offshore spills in coastal waters cause more damage. I’ll grant you they are easier to see. As for assessing the long term damage I doubt we have sufficient empirical data or many similar scientifically studied situations on which to base a comparison. At best I’d accept that we really don’t know at this point, and we have a lot of research that needs to be done.

    So since at this point we can’t assess the damage in any meaningful way and we can’t place a dollar figure on the potential synergistic long term consequences, it seems to me that we are left with a linear extrapolation based on the fines that are currently on the books.

    BTW I highly doubt that BP America will ever pay anything close to 47 billion dollars. Lawyers, oil industry lobbyists and our politicians will make sure of that…

  8. #8 Robert S.
    August 12, 2010

    Why not do the work and try and figure out an upper bounds for total remaining oil, and likely amounts remaining vs time. If we know how much made it to the surface a minimum bound could be placed on that which evaporated (VOCs aren’t fun, but have minimal long term economic/environmental impact). Dissolved oxygen and water temperatures were much lower at the exxon valdez site. Perhaps going by time and coverage area for water and time and area of coast coated would make more sense. Given the rather warm water, strong currents causing dispersal and mixing, and the offshore nature of the spill a gallon to gallon comparison is unlikely to come up with a sane upper bound for either compensation or cleanup costs.

  9. #9 Fred Magyar
    August 12, 2010

    Robert said:

    “If we know how much made it to the surface

    Irrelevant!

    There is a Federally mandated fine for every barrel that is released into the environment, regardless of where it ends up or what damage it does or does not cause.

    Go argue with the Feds, who knows maybe they will give BP a break.

  10. #10 Solius
    August 12, 2010

    Fred wrote:

    There is a Federally mandated fine for every barrel that is released into the environment, regardless of where it ends up or what damage it does or does not cause.

    The fine is $1000/bbl leaked, unless negligence can be proven. And I don’t think that it can be proven. It is apparent now, with the static kill being successful, that it was the shoe that failed and not the liner. So, arguments about a lack of centralizers, or no bond log on the final cement job are irrelevant since the flow was up the production casing.

    Too, determining the flow will be difficult, but most of those familiar with GoM petroleum extraction find 50-60kbbs/day too high. While, the flow might have been near that after the riser was cut, there is no way that the flow was anywhere near that amount for the first month, or so. During the first month or so, numbers were given as 1000bbs, then 10000bbs, and 20000bbs. Those numbers correspond well to models of channeling in the formation, and erosion of surfaces.

    See this: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6611

    and this: http://www.rigzone.com/news/article.asp?a_id=94675

  11. #11 Fred Magyar
    August 12, 2010

    Solius,

    You wrote:
    “The fine is $1000/bbl leaked, unless negligence can be proven. And I don’t think that it can be proven. It is apparent now, with the static kill being successful, that it was the shoe that failed and not the liner.”

    Surely you’re Joking Dr. Feynman!

    I’m certainly no legal expert so I won’t venture there. But since you recommended I visit TheOilDrum, I’ll mention that besides actually having worked on oil rigs doing BOP hydraulic systems maintenance underwater back in the good old days I’ve been a regular at TOD for almost 3 years now with about 3500 posts taking part in quite a few discussions with TOD staff and regulars.

    I’d say it may be a bit premature to summarily discount proof of criminal negligence on BPs part, despite your comment.

    Though not much would surprise me at this point. I’ll try to refrain from judgment and keep an open mind…

  12. #12 Robert S.
    August 12, 2010

    Given current total estimates, the max civil fines, if criminal negligence is proven, is between 22 billion and 86 billion dollars. I was talking about cleanup, direct economic damages, and environmental damage, not the maximum possible fines. If the damage is higher they should pay more to the people impacted, and for whatever remediation can be done. The statement “we should also assume they should spend 15 times more on cleanup than Exxon did” is asinine. Almost nothing in the real world scales linearly like that.

  13. #13 Solius
    August 13, 2010

    Fred wrote:

    Surely you’re Joking Dr. Feynman!

    No need for the condescension, really. Since you worked in the industry, and since you, apparently, feel that BP was negligent, let us hear it; I am all ears.

    The only thing that I can see that might be construed as negligence was not circulating bottoms up. How many other operators in the GoM have done this to save time? Really, I’m curious. Is it always done and BP ignored SOP, or have other operators done the same thing before displacing the riser?

    I want to be mad at BP. Convince me that I should. As I see it, the excoriation of this company is misplaced anger at our own continued reliance on FF. As I see it, most of it comes from those directly affected by the blowout, environmentalits bent on ending all E&P, and those ignorant of the industry.

    Convince me that I am wrong.

  14. #14 Greg
    August 26, 2010

    What about all the fines from protected marine species that were killed directly from the oil? Has there been an estimate placed on this? Not to mention all of the animals that never will be counted because they were burned along with surface oil in the skimming process.

  15. #15 air max 2009
    September 22, 2010

    It’s great work you’re doing and I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but do we really need another GTK+ Telepathy client? There’s already 3+ and they all have almost the same UI; perhaps you could instead take Colligo a different direction?

    I think it’d be awesome if there was a more daring UI, more like Adium for OSX that throws out conventional wisdom and takes advantage of all the awesome composite/OpenGL bling. Python is the perfect language for this, you could also take advantage of the Pigment library that the Flumotion people have put together. Just my $0.02, and if you can beat the rest of these guys out the door and make a great, full-featured GTK+ client that’s awesome too.

  16. #16 red pepper
    October 13, 2010

    Not to mention all of the animals that never will be counted because they were burned along with surface oil in the skimming process.

  17. #17 orjin yüzbakım seti
    February 25, 2011

    ORJİN KİL MASKESİ İLE
    CİLDİNİZİ DOĞAYLA BULUŞTURUN!

    Bazı ürünlerle tanışmak hayatınızı değiştirir.
    Orjin Kil Maskesi’de bunlardan biri.
    Tüm cilt tiplerine uygun olarak hazırlanmış yatıştırıcı bir maskedir. Organik maddeler içeren maskede, etkileri kanıtlanmış kil mineralleri kullanılmıştır. İçeriğindeki etken maddeler sayesinde cildin gözeneklerinde yerleşmiş kirleri bünyesine çekerek cildi temizler. Cildin doğal nem dengesini korur. Cilde sağlıklı bir görünüm kazandırır. Sadece yüzde değil, sırt, kol, dekolte gibi vücudun diğer bölümlerindeki sivilceler için de kullanılabilir.

  18. #18 Shay R.
    May 6, 2011

    Buying power of what?!
    I will guess your 1:1.79 ratio is based of the CPI or some other false inflation figure.
    Well a good idea will be to check the buying power of a dollar measured in Gallons of fuel and I believe you will find that a ratio of 1:3.3 is more likely.
    In this case Exxon actually payed more! for a spill which is 15 time smaller than BP.
    The correct amount BP should pay is 198B$.

    BTW your photo is smoking hot!

  19. #19 PEMBE MASKE
    June 15, 2011

    Özellikle son zamanların en popüler cilt yenileme ürünüdür. Pembe Maske bir çok ünlü isim tarafından da yoğun olarak kullanılmaktadır. Yüzdeki kırışıklıklar, sivilce ve sivilcelerin sebep olduğu deformasyonları gidermede kullanılan Pembe yüz maskesi ve inceltici, selülit giderici olarak kullanılan pembe vücut maskesi olmak üzere iki farklı ürün mevcuttur.

  20. #20 pex
    July 7, 2011

    “We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it form our children.”

  21. #21 A Code Reader
    November 12, 2011

    “We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it form our children.”

    I love that quote PEX!

    Do we have any final tally of what BP has paid? The Media has dropped this topic completely and I just don’t know where we stand now.

  22. #22 Sesli Chat
    February 7, 2012

    “Biz de varsayalım onlar 15 kez daha temiz daha Exxon mi harcamak gerekir” ahmakça ifadesidir. Gerçek dünyada hemen hemen hiçbir şey gibi doğrusal olarak ölçekler.

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