Monday, November 25, 2013

Deep-sea drilling: Risks and arrogance

Over the weekend thousands of people turned out at beaches around the country to protest against deep-sea drilling. The Greens also released new data showing that deep sea drilling is even riskier than we thought, with a 5% chance of a significant spill:

New analysis revealed by the Green Party today shows that the risk of a spill from deep sea drilling increases as the depth of the water increases, and that in ultra-deep water, the risk is as high as 1 in 19 wells.

“When we look to the Gulf of Mexico, we see that for shallow water oil drilling 1 in 272 wells has a spill, while that number increases to 1 in 35 wells for deep sea drilling and to 1 in 19 wells for ultra-deep sea drilling,” said Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes.

Mr Hughes was referring to information from the United States Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement about spills of 50 barrels (5962 litres) or greater from wells drilled in the Gulf of Mexico between 1964 and 2012. The industry defines deep sea drilling as drilling in waters 300m - 1499m, and ultra-deep sea drilling as drilling in waters of 1500m or deeper; Anadarko is about to drill a well off the coast of Raglan in 1520m of water.

And if there is a spill, that oil will end up on beaches from Kaipara to New Plymouth. But relax! John Key isn't worried by any of this. Instead, he thinks that anyone who is is "confused":
Key denied there was a large number of people in New Zealand worried about the safety of deep-sea drilling.

"There are people who are genuinely confused by the data and what they're told," he said.

In other words, we're all ignorant peasants whose voices should be ignored.

There's a name for this: arrogance. Fortunately we have the perfect cure for it: an election next year.