The cost of oil – Oct 16

October 16, 2012

Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

How To Destroy Rivers Communities Softly, Softly

Anayo Onukwugha, Leadership
Recently, members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology were in Rivers State as part of their oversight functions to verify complaints relating to issues of environmental pollution and devastation in oil producing communities in the state…

The senators were moved at Goi when they saw women and children washing and swimming in a river that had been contaminated by crude oil that spilled into it. This prompted the committee chairman, Saraki to beckon on the locals to come out to enable him confirm if that was really spilled crude oil. Speaking at a town hall meeting in Bori, the traditional headquarters of Ogoniland, Saraki did not hide his feelings about what they saw when he decried the high level of environmental degradation caused by decades of oil spills in areas due to the activities of multi-national oil firms operating in Ogoni.

He said: “When we got to the Goi spill site, a young boy of about six was having his bath in what I call crude oil. Very close to where the young boy was, a middle aged woman was trying to harvest cassava. She was harvesting the cassava that she will eat but I don’t call that cassava, I call it crude oil, in Nigeria of today”.
(15 October 2012)

Nigeria oil spills: Shell rejects liability claim

BBC Online
The Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell has rejected claims by four Nigerian farmers that it should pay compensation for damage to their land.

The farmers are suing the company in a civil court in The Hague, claiming oil spills ruined their livelihoods.

Shell’s lawyers told the court it could not be held liable because most spills were caused by criminal damage.

They said repairs were hard to carry out because of insecurity in the Niger Delta…
(11 October 2012)

Top Kill [Afternoon Drama]

Mike Walker, BBC Radio 4
This recording is only available until 22nd October 2012
On April 20th 2010 there was an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil-rig, in the Gulf of Mexico, in which 11 men were vaporised and 17 injured. 205.8 million gallons of crude oil proceeded to leak into the Ocean from a broken wellhead, 5 miles below the surface.

Given there are more than 3000 such well heads in the Gulf, TOP KILL follows subsequent imagined events on a similar drilling platform, CLEARWATER VENTURE demonstrating just how cutting corners could lead to calamity…
(15 October 2012)

Invasion of Iraq causes epidemic of birth defects

Ian Angus, Climate & Capitalism

You’ve thrown the worst fear that can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children into the world
For threatening my baby unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood that runs in your veins.
—Bob Dylan, “Masters of War”

21st Century Barbarism
From “Metal Contamination and the Epidemic of Congenital Birth Defects in Iraqi Cities,” a study published this week in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (subscription required):

“Between October 1994 and October 1995, the number of birth defects per 1,000 live births in Al Basrah Maternity Hospital was 1.37. In 2003, the number of birth defects in Al Basrah Maternity Hospital was 23 per 1,000 live births. Within less than a decade, the occurrence of congenital birth defects increased by an astonishing 17-fold in the same hospital.”

The scientists who conducted the study found that the hair, toenails and teeth of people in areas subjected to heavy bombardment by U.S. and other invading forces show high levels of lead, mercury and other poisonous metals that are known to cause birth defects and other developmental problems…
(13 October 2012)

Ecuador Oil Pollution Case Only Grows Murkier

Simon Romero, Clifford Krauss, New York Times
The multibillion-dollar legal case between Amazon peasants and Chevron over oil pollution in Ecuador’s rain forest keeps unfolding more like a mystery thriller than a battle of briefs.

Ever since the oil giant released videos in August that were secretly taped by two businessmen who seemed to have the ambition of feasting off the expected $27 billion in damages sought, Ecuadorean officials and Chevron have accused each other of gross improprieties, including espionage…

Chevron says that it neither coached nor paid the businessmen to make the tapes, and that it did not edit the material, though it did give one of the men, Diego Borja, an undisclosed amount for moving and living expenses so he could safely move his family out of Ecuador.

Company spokesmen say that when Mr. Borja, an Ecuadorean logistics contractor working with an American businessman, brought tapes of three meetings to Chevron, company officials urged him not to go to more meetings because doing so could be dangerous…

Chevron hopes to delay any future payments for many years; since it has no major assets in Ecuador, it would not be easy to get it to pay, even if it lost. Had the Ecuadorean officials checked Mr. Borja’s background, they would have seen that he had been a contractor for Chevron for years.
(9 October 2012)

Richmond Refinery Fire Unites Communities Divided

News America Media
“The explosion was horrible – I wish it had never happened – but it opened a lot of eyes of people outside of Richmond, people who never acknowledged the problem of the refinery before,” said Saeteurn.

The sooty cloud seen for miles sent a message to families throughout the region, and organizers hope the new awareness will provide a rallying point for pressuring politicians and pushing Chevron toward safer operation…

Within two weeks, nearly 15,000 people had visited emergency rooms with respiratory complaints, burning eyes, sore throats and headaches. Many others didn’t see a doctor, but complained of feeling tired and having trouble concentrating for days after the fire.

Lawyers filed lawsuits against Chevron, citing negligence by the company.

“With a disaster of this scale, people who are traditionally not impacted suddenly get it. They understand that this really is a false choice that we are offering families,” said Jakada Imani, executive director of the Ella Baker Center in nearby Oakland, an organization that works to empower low-income families and communities.

“You can’t ask people to choose between their health and someone else’s profit,” he said. “Legislators throughout the state have to understand the health issues here, and understand that it is unsustainable.”

Richmond’s poorest families have lived in public housing at the edge of the refinery for decades, dashing into their houses when alarms signaled a spill or leak, shutting doors and windows and stuffing towels into any gaps…
(6 October 2012)

Tags: Activism, Fossil Fuels, Industry, Oil, Politics