Rust Never Sleeps
"Oil Company Expert" Demonstrates Use Of
"State Of The Art High Tech Equipment"To Clean Up Oil Spill
The Alaskan Pipeline, or one of BP's feeder lines connecting to it is suddenly so rusty that it has to be shut down indefinitely, causing an instant 8% drop in US production capacity.
This fact translates into an instant and enormous revenue loss for Alaska, and:
The event will be followed by an instant double jump in gas prices and an instant double secret jump in oil company revenues.
Now, I'm not an oil expert, (Beer is my area,) I have never been fond of the flavor of "Crude Light", although I once drank some Old Milwaukee and found it somewhat reminiscent of 10w40 when served stale, at room temperature, in a dirty glass. But I digress.
We have known since the late seventies that "Rust Never Sleeps" because Neil Young warned us of the fact. I think Neil was warning us of one, or more, of the following (A) Punk Rockers (B) The Reagan Administration or (C) Patty Reagan and Patty Smith)
The oil experts weren't listening at the time though, they were busy vibrating with giddy anticipation over the coming anti- regulatory, pro business, "pillage the public treasury" policies of the arriving hordes of free market, hate government, "where's mine," rampant assed Republicanism.
I think that was about the time that construction was beginning on the Alaskan Pipeline which was approximately when this sudden rust problem began ... suddenly, twenty five or so years ago.
Experts seldom listen to anyone, not even Neil Young, partially because they are too busy expounding on their area of expertise on CNN or one of the other twenty four hour "Repeat The White House Talking Points Like A Mantra" outlets, but mostly because experts wouldn't seem very "experty" if they went around from network to network just .... listening.
This explains why "BP", which once was an acronym for "British Petroleum," until their public relations people changed it to "Beyond Petroleum," although their recent quarterly profit reports may lead the public to believe that it really means "Beyond Petroleum Jelly."
But, again, I digress. I started to say that the oil and energy experts were so preoccupied with the coming of the "Post-Great Society, Hallelujah, Cal Coolidge is Back, Land of Milk and Honey." that they didn't hear Neil's warning.
With the rise of the twenty four hour news channels the demand for talking experts in many fields became so great, and the pay so lucrative that there were almost no experts left to serve and guide crucial areas of our society, such as the energy industry, or the military, or elder statesmanship.
At this point in time, or as Yogi Berra says, "now," the problem has become so acute that we can't fight a war effectively because all the really good Generals have become Senior Military Analysts on TV.
The only Generals left are the sycophants that we often see around Bush or Rumsfeld these days, like Peter Pace, whose shameless ass kissing almost makes me ashamed to have been a Marine.
The shortage of experts problem became painfully apparent a few years ago when the LA Prosecutors Office discovered it couldn't gain a conviction in a criminal case because all the really great Lawyers (like Greta Van Susteren) were either Senior Legal Analysts on Wolf Blitzer or Bill O'Reilly's staff or consultants on one of the several dozen CSIs or LA Laws which now crowd the cable channels.
So it was, in the oil industry, that, while the corrosive forces of Rapid Arctic Pipeline Oxidation were working twenty four hours a day at their insidious task of suddenly destroying the pipeline infrastructure, most of the energy experts were busily engaged in explaining to TV audiences how oil markets work, diagramming the "Law of Supply and Demand" and finding other ways to cover up their aberrant greed and criminal behavior.
Not all of them were on TV, great numbers of these well oiled cats had been employed by the Bush Administration to make sure that the energy and oil industries, with their all the attendant environmental problems of their oil fields and refineries, pipelines and supertankers, were less regulated than, say, amateur fishermen or golf pros.
Thousands of other energy experts were hard at work in government agencies, or in the quasi private sector on the public dime, refuting Al Gore's silly ass claims about Global Warming and many more were busily searching for important evidence concerning Noah's Ark, The Shroud of Turin, and that ridiculous, on the face of it, heretical "Darwinian" nonsense.
When all the experts in an industry are completely preoccupied with things like "trees" they tend to lose sight of things like "forests," so we shouldn't be overly harsh with them for not noticing that the Alaskan Pipeline had suddenly rusted away, causing the spillage of "four or five barrels" of oil.
There were some warning signals,(aside from Neil Young's somewhat irritating, nasal, whining, social portents) which might have made them sit up and notice, like the recent, (March 2006) spillage of 267,000 barrels (that's barrels, not gallons) by the same company "BP" as in "Blowout Pipelines?" in another of its Prudhoe transit lines, which is still shutdown.
Examination of the lines in the most recent spill found that the pipeline walls had suffered losses in wall thickness of as much as 70 to 81%
BP said that this level of "corrosion-related wall thinning appeared to exceed BP criteria for continued operation."
I would think so.
Not being an expert I might have thought that the allowable limits for loss of wall thickness would be much lower, say twenty or thirty percent, at which point red flags would be raised, alarms would ring out, and teams of experts would be summoned.
I might also have thought that the 267,000 barrel spill in March would be much more reason to shut things down and fix them than the more recent spill of "four or five barrels." I was wrong, another indication that I should remember my "place" and stick to "Beer."
The only variables that I can think of that have changed since this past March are the worsening Civil War in Iraq, the onset of proxy war we have started with Iran in Lebanon, the steady drop of Republicans in the polls, and the proximity of election day. Hmmm.
But, as I'm, admittedly, not well versed in these technical matters I guess I'll just have to trust the oil people and our government that is so diligently regulating the oil industry and their activities, and fervently protecting the public interest.
When they next get together, these folks from the Bush Government and Big Oil, perhaps at their next family outing, after the potato races, and potato salad, the hob nobbing and the apple bobbing, they will attack these problems, and using all their skills, expertise, and the competence that has become a hallmark of the GW Bush Administration, they will rapidly correct them.
Yes, I'm sure of it, they will correct these problems, with all dispatch, quickly, suddenly, in fact, at the speed of .... rust.