Lagos ports remained closed on Tuesday as Nigeria’s nationwide strike by labour and civil rights groups entered a second day. The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said ships were neither berthing nor leaving and that 29 ships had been effectively trapped.
A cargo vessel that broke its moorings off the Australian territory of Christmas Island sank during severe weather on Monday night spilling the majority of its contents, including bunker fuel, into surrounding waters. The Panamanian-flagged MV Tycoon was carrying approximately 102 metric tonnes (mt) of intermediate fuel oil (IFO), 11,000 litres of lubricant oil, 32 tonnes of diesel oil and approximately 260 tonnes of phosphate.
Bad timing if you’re into piping tar sands syncrude out of Canada
Canadian pipeline builder Enbridge reported a leak from one of its pipelines on the day public hearings began into the company’s planned Northern Gateway pipeline. U.S. pipeline regulators told Enbridge about the possible leak. A subsequent helicopter over-flight discovered a metre-wide patch of bubbles over the company’s Stingray pipeline, which can carry 560-million cubic feet a day of natural gas from offshore wells in the Gulf of Mexico. The bubbles were found about 100 kilometres from the Louisiana coast.
Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline through British Columbia’s mountains faces rising costs as regulators and opponents weigh environmental threats in the latest battle over Alberta’s oil sands.
With energy demand on the rise and sources of supply dwindling, we are, in fact, entering a new epoch — the Geo-Energy Era — in which disputes over vital resources will dominate world affairs. In 2012 and beyond, energy and conflict will be bound ever more tightly together, lending increasing importance to the key geographical flashpoints in our resource-constrained world.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to pass — with only six nays — the Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011. At the Hill’s Congress Blog, Jamir Abdi explains that (as you may have heard) it contains “a provision—inserted without debate in committee after garnering the majority of its cosponsors—that would outlaw contact between U.S. government employees and certain Iranian officials.”
In this month’s update of the “real” employment situation we will dig down behind the headlines and look deeper into the recent release of the Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Remember the GOM BP oil spill?
After the catastrophic explosion in April 2010 at BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig, it’s believed that 206 million gallons of crude shot from the riser pipe over three months. Now, learning what was released, how much and where are key for understanding the impact on ecosystems, a Sarasota Herald-Tribune report said. As much as 36 percent of the oil remained in deep underwater plumes, a government-funded study published Monday said.
Some more on coal
Alpha Natural Resources Inc. has settled all remaining wrongful-death lawsuits with the families of coal miners killed in a 2010 explosion that was the worst U.S. mining accident in four decades. Alpha inherited the civil suits when it acquired Massey Energy for $7.1 billion last June, more than a year after an explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia killed 29 miners.
A Spanish member of the European Parliament has renewed his attacks on bunkering in the Bay of Gibraltar. “These waters are suffering the negative effects of repeated spills of fuel and facing the risks posed by extremely dense maritime traffic and constant uncontrolled bunkering operations,” said Fancisco Sosa Wagner.
The cement plug sealing the Macondo well shut is complete and passed the pressure test at 5:54 a.m. CDT (less than an hour ago as I write). See the NPR breaking news here.
This does not, of course, mean that the disaster is over. It is no more over than the Katrina disaster was over when the floodwaters receded. There will be plenty more to report in the days, weeks, months and years to come. But we shouldn’t let this fact keep us from celebrating the closure of this ugly chapter of U.S. history.
And as always, don’t forget that the BP spill is yet more evidence that oil production has reached the seventh fold… otherwise there would be no reason to be drilling a mile below the ocean surface using a platform that cost more than a half of a Billion (yes that’s a ‘B’) dollars!
The news on the BP spill today was mixed. On the one hand, BP is finally pumping heavy drilling mud to seal the well for good. On the other hand, scientists in the Flow Rate Technical Group, supervised by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of Energy report that the”Macondo well spewed 62,000 barrels of oil a day initially, and as the reservoir gradually depleted itself, the flow eased to 53,000 barrels a day until the well was finally capped and sealed July 15″ (Washington Post). That leaves a total flow of 4.9 million barrels.
But how much is 4.9 million barrels?
We all clearly recognize that this is a very large number, but what we really need is perspective. To quote Anton Ego – the dynamic villain turned hero of Disney’s Ratatoille – “After reading a lot of overheated puffery… you know what I’m craving? A little perspective. That’s it. I’d like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?”
The fact is, humans are visual creatures. We have weak eyes, yet a significant portion of our brains is dedicated to deciphering visual cues. We think through visual metaphors. So, just as we have a difficult time imagining (note the root: image) the vast quantities of invisible methane that spewed out of the Macondo well along with the oil, we have a hard time envisioning just how much oil 4.9 million barrels is.
As if this visioning task was not difficult enough already, it has been made immeasurably more difficult by the numerous misleading maps like the popular NYT interactive graphic which shows the oil slick first as a growing 2-dimensional surface feature (the vast majority of the oil never made it to the surface so this is a gross misrepresentation of the spill) and later as a zero-dimensional image which seems to imply ‘problem solved’. When combined with the successful capping of the well, and the good news about the mud kill, I fear this story will soon vanish from the minds of the greater populous. And that will be a shame.
That said, let’s see if we can do some simple math and transform 5,000,000 barrels into a much more manageable figure… I’ve always been fond of the number ’2′. After all it is easy to remember and carries a certain mystique. For the biblically inclined, Noah led animals two by two onto the Arc. And for those with Darwinian inclinations that lean more towards evolutionism than creationism, our chromosomes also come in pairs (as do our jeans, but for some reason, I don’t think the fashion-inclined set reads my blog).
So there we have it. A goal. Express the oil spill in 2 tangible units. Read more…