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Sunday 15 August 2010

End Of The Spill?

There is cautious optimism among the parties clearing up after the Deepwater Horizon accident and subsequent release of oil into the Gulf Of Mexico. It seems that not only has the leaking of oil ceased, but also that the well from which tens of thousands of barrels of crude had been gushing every day may have already been sealed, without the need for relief wells.

That would be beneficial news not only to BP – and its partners in this particular drilling enterprise – but also the Obama Administration, which had been slow to get a grip of the emerging environmental catastrophe and was reduced at times to simply kicking BP harder in order to look that bit tougher. It has been an object lesson in both the consequences of pushing technology, and the limits on Government’s ability to intervene.

Now, in a move designed to encourage more of his fellow Americans to vacation on the Gulf shore, Barack Obama has made a highly publicised visit to the area, though a brief one. He also cautioned that the job of cleanup and compensation was not finished: much of the escaped oil may have evaporated or dispersed, but there is still more of it out there, and the damage to the environment, as I mentioned recently, has been severe.

Moreover, people who depend on the Gulf for their livelihoods have suffered hardship, and will continue to do so, until and unless confidence and visitors return. Only after all of this is accomplished will it be reasonable to talk of more drilling out in the deeper water where there are clearly substantial reserves of crude.

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