Thanks to our reader Tom for a tip leading us to this story this morning. The offshore drilling company Energy Resources Technology, a subsidiary of Talos Energy, has lost control of a drilling platform that pumps crude oil and natural gas from the Gulf of Mexico.. Natural gas is leaking out from under the platform without any restraint, and the platform has been evacuated because it is no longer safe. The platform could explode and sink, like the Deepwater Horizon did in 2010, and that would result in the release of crude oil as well as natural gas.
There is currently a sheen on the surface of the water that’s about four square miles in area.
This story isn’t getting much attention from journalists right now right now, and it probably will fade as the day progresses. That’s because, unlike with the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Energy Resources Technology accident:
1. Is releasing natural gas, which is invisible in the air and causes a rainbow-colored sheen on the water, compared to crude oil, which looks scary and black.
2. There is no fire in this story.
3. No one has died.
4. Nothing will wash up onto any beach from this spill, unless an explosion ruptures the crude oil lines on the drilling platform.
The uncontrolled release of the natural gas into the water, and then into the air, is significant, however, because natural gas emissions contribute to global warming. Natural gas consists primarily of methane, which is an even more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
An even more important part of this story is that offshore drilling companies still haven’t made their oil and gas drilling operations safe, despite all their promises back in 2010. Congress hasn’t passed any legislation forcing them to clean up their act, but pushes instead, with Barack Obama’s cooperation, for the rapid, unsafe expansion of offshore drilling up and down America’s coastlines. The consequence of this inaction is that, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, accidents such as the one reported this morning take place several times every year.