As far back as 1914 the US was exporting two thirds of the world’s oil from land based oil wells. It wasn’t until 1961 that offshore oil exploration began offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Then explorations in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska started in 1967.
In 1968 there was an oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast in California. That spring following the California oil spill, Earth Day was born nationwide and coastal drilling was suspended. It was because of this oil spill that President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, in 1970 to protect the environment. But accidents still grew worse, everywhere.
The US has continued to be a major exporter of oil and as larger and larger amounts of oil were shipped on larger tankers to more countries oil spills got larger as well. Worldwide, ships went aground or collided, pipelines broke. Accidents happened and so did war. I have listed below a few of the larger spills in the Americas.
In 1977 at a Long Beach pier in California, the tanker Sansinena exploded causing severe damage and killing. In the Delaware River, the tanker Olympic Games spilled 134,000 gallons of oil.
In 1980 in the Gulf of Mexico, the Ixtoc Well spilled 140 million gallons. And the US started exporting Alaskan oil. The influx of Alaskan crude created a West Coast surplus, and in late August, very large tankers began moving the oil through the Panama Canal to Gulf and East Coast ports for export.
In 1989 an oil barge sunk off the coast of Washington State spilling unknown amounts of oil on Washington beaches and the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 millions gallons of oil in Alaska. In 1990 the supertanker Mega Borg spilled 5.1 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico. In 1994 poorly maintained pipelines began leaking. In Texas, 1.2 million gallons leaked from pipes under the San Jacinto River turning it into a river of fire. Also a spill from a Barge that went aground on a reef in Puerto Rico spilled 918,000 gallons into the Caribbean. And a platform spill angered Santa Barbara Residents in 1997. In 2000 in Louisiana, the Westchester ran aground and leaked 567,000 gallons into the Mississippi. In 2004 in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, the Saledang Ayu released 337,000 gallons of oil onto the shoreline of Makushin and Skan Bays after a major storm pushed the ship up onto a rocky shore breaking it in two.
In 2005 damage onshore from Hurricane Katrina was 8 million gallons of oil tank spills from Alabama to Louisiana. That same year Hurricane Rita took out 2 refineries and caused more spills. According to the US Coast Guard, offshore oil spills from the two hurricanes included 113 platforms that were totally destroyed and 457 pipelines damaged. The two hurricanes caused 124 offshore spills for a total of 743,700 gallons, including six spills of 42,000 gallons or greater.
In 2006 in Louisiana, a CITGO refinery spilled 71,000 barrels of oil.
In 2007 the COSCO Busan ran into the San Francisco to Oakland Bay Bridge and spilled 58,000 gallons. In 2008, just recently, another 400,000 gallons were spilled on the Mississippi River in New Orleans.
In 2008 in May alone, according the EIA, the Department of Energy, Energy Information Agency, the US exported 55,972,000 barrels of petroleum. You can access this information on the web at: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_expc_a_ep00_eex_mbbl_m.htm
Our petroleum is leaving this country to places like Mexico, Canada, Chile, Singapore and Brazil through pipelines to ships that go to ports all over the world. Those ships that still have single hulls make them more vulnerable to hull breaches. And pipelines leak due to shoddy maintenance or terrorists. Also a lot of international shipping is done by foreign vessels not subject to the environmental and worker protections of the US.
This article was on Forbes.com for only a few days and then it disappeared. It was titled:
ANALYSIS-US oil firms seek drilling access, but exports soar
07.03.08, 2:40 PM ET
United States - By Tom Doggett According to Tom Doggett of Reuters, “U.S. consumers are paying record prices for gasoline and diesel fuel, which the Bush administration blames in part on tight supplies. U.S. gasoline shipments in April averaged 202,000 barrels a day, the most for the month since 1945, when America was sending fuel overseas to ease supply shortages in other countries during World War II. Gasoline exports in April 2007 were almost half at 116,000 barrels per day.”
On the EIA site I saw amazing figures. We are exporting millions of gallons of petroleum to over 120 countries. During the Bush administration from 2000 to present, EIA figures show a total of 3,556,683,000 barrels of petroleum were exported.
So tell me, what is the reason they want to drill in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR? It will just give the oil giants more petroleum to sell abroad, as they have always done. And it appears that oil spills continue to happen. Obviously, we still have lots of oil. So what do the experts say about more offshore exploration drilling?
According to oil experts Colin J. Campbell and Jean H. Laherrère who have each worked in the oil industry for more than 40 years, spending more money on oil exploration will not change our situation. “Advances in geochemistry and geophysics make it possible to map productive and prospective fields with impressive accuracy. Exploration has pushed the frontiers back so far that only extremely deep water and Polar Regions remain to be fully tested, and even their prospects are now reasonably well understood.” They recommend using natural gas, safe nuclear power, cheaper renewable energy and oil conservation programs instead. They said, “There is only so much crude oil in the world, and the industry has found about 90 percent of it.” You can find this quote on Microsoft Encarta.
The Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge should be off the table permanently!