It’s been almost two years since a British Petroleum-operated oil platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, discharging millions of gallons of oil.
At the time of the incident, BP was vilified and the questions surrounding the incident were abundant.
How could they let something like this happen? What will they be doing to right this tremendous wrong? What kind of effects will this have on the environment? How will BP be punished for this accident?
BP reached a settlement Friday with businesses and individuals whom the incident harmed, worth a reported $7.8 billion. For a company that reported about $26 billion in earnings after taxation last year, they’re paying out roughly 30 percent of their income from last year.
This sounds nice in theory, and I’m sure the people who receive the money will appreciate it. So BP was able to partially right its wrong, but have things really improved since the accident?
Offshore drilling remains a risky proposition and accidents continue to occur. The most recent examples include incidents in Brazil and China. With the search for oil intensifying, offshore drilling will only continue to increase as oil companies are forced to find ways to meet the ever-increasing demand nationwide. It is a process that will never be free of risk as drilling pushes deeper and deeper into the ocean.
According to multiple reports, BP and other oil companies have gone back to offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and production levels are set to pass those that were achieved prior to the accident. With gas prices fast approaching $4 a gallon, the search for oil has again become a hot-button issue.
It’s only a matter of time before another incident of the same scale as the one in the Gulf of Mexico occurs. I’m shocked it hasn’t. The oil companies are in a lose-lose situation in which they have zero room for error.
The public sphere occupies a hypocritical position. The need for oil is apparent, but if one of the oil companies has an accident, that company is vilified. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Either realize that the dangers that come with offshore drilling are inherent and accidents are bound to happen, or be completely against the concept. It’s a mutually exclusive concept that the public has yet to grasp.
It’s a credit to the oil companies that the number of accidents like the one in the Gulf of Mexico can be counted on one hand. But that’s still not good enough and never will be. The companies are held to a golden standard in which they must meet our demands, but at the same time make sure to do it in perfect fashion.
The Obama administration has proposed an estimated $276 million in its 2013 Energy Budget that will be dedicated to the “research and development of advanced fossil fuel power systems,” according to the White House’s website. It’s a step in the right direction toward the Obama administration’s goal of reducing the United States’ reliance on oil by one-third by 2025.
In the next 13 years, will that be enough as the demand for oil increases and the amount of locations where oil can be found decreases?
That remains to be seen, but no one should act surprised if there is another incident like the one almost two years ago in the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s the price of doing business in a world that’s increasingly dependent on oil.