Just when I was beginning to think the US government couldn’t get more stupid regarding the Macondo oil leak, we get this:
Oil firm BP may be “pushed out of the way” if it fails to perform in the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster clean-up, a top US official has warned.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the British company had missed “deadline after deadline” in its efforts to seal a blown-out oil well.
“If we find they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we’ll push them out of the way appropriately,” Mr Salazar told reporters after visiting BP’s US headquarters.
So they’re going to boot BP off the job? And who, then, is going to plug the leak? Politicians? Perhaps we could put Hilary Clinton’s mouth over the wellhead? Or stuff the latest draft of the healthcare bill into the hole? Who else can muster a flotilla of cleanup vessels and the army of subsea experts BP currently have on the scene? Is Mr Salazar so completely deluded as to the capabilities of government – which, in case we forget, could not organise putting people onto buses three days before hurricane Katrina – that he thinks they are in a position to cap a leaking well a mile under the sea?
As the BBC article helpfully acknowledges:
Although it is within the government’s power to push BP aside, our correspondent says BP is the only organisation with the knowledge to deal with a situation like this at such a depth.
Quite. Regardless of what BP has failed to do thus far, kicking them off the job now would be the height of stupidity. As The Economist notes in an extremely well written and researched article:
Where once the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon drilling rig floated in solitary splendour, there are now two similar rigs, along with the Discoverer Enterprise, a drilling ship; the Viking Poseidon, which knows how to install things on the sea floor; four mother ships for remotely operated underwater vehicles; various barges and supply vessels; and the Q4000, a rig that specialises in repairing and closing wells. If the well that the Deepwater Horizon was in the process of closing off four weeks ago continues to spray oil into the sea for months to come, it won’t be for a lack of expensive, sophisticated and improbable-looking hardware a mile up above it.
The reason BP is struggling is because what it is trying to do is exceptionally difficult. Yet understanding that seems to present an even bigger obstacle to some people.