Blowout in the Gulf: The BP Oil Spill Disaster and the by William R. Freudenburg

By William R. Freudenburg

The tale of ways a sequence of disasters, missteps, and undesirable judgements resulted in America's largest environmental catastrophe.

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Additional resources for Blowout in the Gulf: The BP Oil Spill Disaster and the Future of Energy in America

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As suggested above, most petroleum reservoirs contain some mixture of oil, gas, and water. Although liquids such as oil and water cannot be compressed very much, anyone who has ever blown up a balloon knows that ordinary air, like any other gas, can be compressed quite a bit. Because these reservoirs are often located very deep in the earth, the gas in them can be under far more pressure than any human set of lungs could create—often amounting to thousands of pounds per square inch. Just as pressurized air can cause a balloon to explode if it is punctured by even the tiniest of holes, the pressurized gas in an underground formation can exert an essentially explosive force to shoot out of the well—drillers call it a kick.

S. S. government. S. ” Norway charges almost twice that much—about 75 percent. Vietnam and Tunisia get an even higher share—80 percent or more. 10 The United States, in short, has scarcely been the shrewdest business operator in the world. S. government, you and I and our fellow taxpayers have all helped to make those profits possible—whether we buy gasoline or not. S. revenues any closer to those in the rest of the world. The Macondo Mess 19 Instead, Congress has taken actions that our representatives have assured us were in response to sound energy policy concerns, and not to the fact that the oil industry’s contributions to its “friends” in Congress have been as generous as the taxpayers’ share of the take has been puny.

Drillers do their best to reach the oil at a level above the water, but there are times when the water will also come up. These produced waters, as they are called, need to be treated, discarded, or in some cases, pumped back into the reservoir to maintain pressure. Since the gas will be above the oil, drillers also try to tap into a reservoir at a level that is below the gas, counting on the pressure from the gas to help push the oil up to the surface. Any natural gas that comes up with the oil can be captured and sold, at least in principle, but many wells are far enough from gas pipelines that the gases are simply burned off, or flared.

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