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article imageOp-Ed: Yet another oil spill, and a glimmer of hope for the future

By Alexander Baron     Aug 14, 2011 in Environment
The name Deepwater Horizon will live forever in the halls of infamy, which may not be long if the doomsayers are right, and as yet another major spill is reported, this time off the coast of Scotland.
One of the big issues relating to the Gulf oil spill was the dishonest rhetoric of both BP and the Federal Government. To some extent the behaviour of the latter was understandable; they wanted both to allay panic and to protect the lucrative Gulf Coast tourist industry. Now, there is yet another major spill, this time by Shell, in the North Sea around a hundred miles off the coast of Scotland.
The Gannet Alpha platform leak was reported publicly only on Friday, although the company has been aware of it since at least Wednesday. This morning, the BBC Breakfast news programme reported that a thin film of oil had covered a mere 48 square miles. This begs the question, what does thin mean? One molecule? And 48 square miles is twice the area of San Marino.
Yesterday, in a press release, the company attempted to play down the leak, reporting it was: “...under control...the flowline on the seabed is now isolated and depressurized. Leakage of oil has been considerably reduced...Our current expectation is it will be naturally dispersed through wave action and will not reach shore...We have deployed a Remote-Operated Vehicle (ROV) to do inspection checks and monitor the subsea leak which is on a flow line on the sea bed...A stand-by vessel remains on station with oil spill response equipment and dispersant...”
Great, more dispersant, one can only wonder what long term effects that will have on marine life.
The great irony here is that Scotland has been in the forefront of the development of clean, renewable energy resources. Writing in the Inverness Courier, Calum Macleod of Highlands and Islands Enterprise spoke proudly of their ongoing efforts to change the shape of the world energy map, and said he believes “the region can become a world leader in the field of renewable energy, just as Aberdeen has with oil.”
He added: “the Marine Energy Centre in still the world’s only grid-connected wave and marine energy centre, and is already stimulating some additional development in Orkney.”
We can only hope Scotland, the British Government, the American Government, and governments worldwide, put their money where his mouth is, because time is running out not just for the oil industry, but for mankind.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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