Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Oh Mercy Mercy Me

The oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico continues to boggle the mind, for various reasons. First, from a site called FlowingData, some statistics about BP's track record of safety expressed in a striking chart. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has several levels of violation, the worst of which is labeled egregious willful:
Between June 2007 and February 2010, BP received 760 egregious citations across six refineries. The 145 other refineries in the U.S., combined, received only one.
Most of those citations to BP "reflect alleged violations of a rule designed to prevent catastrophic events at refineries."

But while BP's culture (and clear lack of a reasonably effective back-up plan when the risks were so high) is maddening, what's really stunning is the perspective this all grants to levels of oil consumption. My friend Miles sums it up (italics mine):
Based on most estimates, the BP well is spewing into the Gulf of Mexico about 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of oil a day, roughly 504,000 or 798,000 gallons every 24 hours. If the leak continues unabated until August, as many experts expect, the total amount of oil leaked will end up somewhere between 1.08 million and 1.7 million total barrels, roughly 45 million to 71 million gallons. That's a hell of a lot of oil. Enough oil, for instance, to threaten the Gulf Coast's fragile ecosystem, while simultaneously kneecapping the region's economy. Not enough oil, though, to meet or exceed even 8.5 percent of our daily consumption of oil, which stands, with or without the Deepwater Horizon explosion, at a shocking 21 million barrels a day.


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