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Timor Sea Oil Spill Reminds Of Offshore Drilling Risks

Anyone who thinks that the future of energy production in the United States can be safely established through the expansion of offshore oil drilling ought to take a look at what’s been happening Down Under.

An offshore drilling platform in the Timor Sea has been spilling crude oil for three weeks, and it will be something like three more weeks before the spill can be stopped. An Australian regulatory office had claimed that it took almost immediate action upon discovering the oil spill, but in fact it was 24 hours before any concrete action to deal with the spill was taken.

The spill is larger than had been initially reported. A mother whale and her calf have been spotted swimming together close to the spill.

Senator Rachel Siewert, a member of the Australian Parliament and a leader of the Australian Green Party, has been leading efforts to move the government into more effective action to counter the spill and effectively regulate oil drilling to prevent more such accidents in the future. The Australian oil industry is, as with the American oil industry, is reluctant to cooperate.

australian oil rig

5 comments to Timor Sea Oil Spill Reminds Of Offshore Drilling Risks

  • Mark

    Large oil spills such as this occur rarely, as the oil industry here in the US is quick to point out. They even cite the statistic that during Hurricane Katrina there were no spills from offshore oil production facilities.

    What they always seem to fail to mention are the very common spills that occur on virtually a daily basis from their transport and production systems, both onshore and offshore. These minor spills do more harm to the environment than the rare massive spill such as this one. The magnitude of spills from ships, broken pipelines, and processing plants are collectively nearly as large as a massive spill such as this. Indeed, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina nearly 7 million gallons of oil were spilled from various sources other than offshore production facilities (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9365607/). Oil is messy and even the cleanest of production systems leaks large quantities into the environment.

    • ReMarker

      Mark, it’s easy to overlook much of the data collected regarding oil spills from huricanes Katrina and Rita.

      Here is a link to some more info. http://blog.skytruth.org/2007/12/hurricane-katrina-gulf-of-mexico-oil.html

      While the U.S. has good oil drilling technology, spills still occur and “offshore” adds greater risks. An estimate of gallons spilled because of Katrina and Rita is 700k. The Coast Guard clasifies anything over 100k gallons, a “major spill”.

      • Mark

        I think you may have misunderstood the point I was trying to make. I am firmly against more offshore oil drilling. In fact, we should reduce it because of the damage to the environment. I have seen the data regarding oil spills from Hurricane Katrina and it was a massive disaster, even though the oil companies put the spin on it by saying that no offshore oil production facilities spilled oil. That was technically true, but disregarded the huge amounts of oil spilled from hurricane damage to other activities and systems.

  • Tom

    Another fact to remember is that ALL of the oil spills EVER have a cumulative effect on the environment – from environmental degradation and pollution to physical and genetic. Read up on the Exxon Valdez spill from WAY back to see how it still effects the fishing village and the surrounding area, the biology of the fish, geese (and other birds), humans and other animals, and the degraded quality of life all these years since it’s been “cleaned up.” It’s a sad tale.

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