Look at this: BP knew about problems at that burning oil rig 11 months ago. They screwed up with bad decisions in the short interval immediately before the explosion, but documents have come to light showing that they were worried about “loss of control” months before the disaster — and what they did in response was to ask for delays in testing (which they got), and then they fudged the tests by using a lower pressure.
This is basically criminal misconduct. But hey, what’s the point of getting upset over 11 deaths and a mere environmental catastrophe? We need the oil. Let’s just help the oil companies get beyond this.
Everyone is fixated on that one burning mess in the Gulf, which is probably exactly what the oil companies want — they are probably sweating pungent carcinogenic petrochemicals at the thought that someone might look around and notice all of those other rigs, which almost certainly have a paper trail of shortcuts and risks and shoddy management. While BP is struggling to catch up with its responsibilities and close off the well and clean up the poisons, I think a great thing for the Obama administration to do would be to descend on each of those other wells with a force of elite regulatory accountants, documenting all the potential and extant problems, and telling each company to fix them. Now. Without cheating, without getting any special dispensations. If they can’t fix them, shut them down or hit them with massive penalties.
I have a very low opinion of oil company executives. I doubt that they have any sincere regrets about the loss of life or the destruction of the environment. But having to fix every place where they shaved corners, and pay out money to bring everything up to legally mandated standards — now that will make them cry.
Hmm. Here’s another site with a count of US oil and gas rigs — it says there are about 1500. I can’t account for the discrepancy, unless there has been a rapid decline in the last few years (this site is more current), or there is some other criterion for inclusion in this particular list.
It doesn’t matter, of course — except that a smaller number makes it easier to review them all.