Oil spill disaster unfolds in Solomons marine reserve

Oil spill disaster unfolds in Solomons marine reserve

SOURCE: Radio New Zealand DATE: February 27, 2019 SNIP: An environmental disaster is unfolding in Solomon Islands, on the island of Rennell, with tonnes of oil spilling into an internationally-significant marine reserve. In Kangava Bay, the azure waters have been blackened by oil, the reef thick with sludge. Metres away, where the rich rainforest barrels down to the coast, the white sand gets coated by a heavy goop with each wave that rolls in. The air is thick with the stench of heavy chemicals, residents say. Each day for the past three weeks, locals have looked out to a giant ship, the MV Solomon Trader, as it sits wedged on a reef, a gash on its side leaking as much as 60 tonnes of oil into a marine sanctuary. The spill is still not contained. Meanwhile, the spill could taint a Unesco world heritage area already threatened by climate change, mining and logging. And for locals, it’s poisoning their food sources and livelihoods. Willie Kaitu’u, who hails from the Tehakatu’u tribe in Kangava Bay, said the beaches were covered with oil, the air was pungent, and fishing grounds that his people have long relied on ruined. Since 4 February, it’s sat where it was grounded. Cyclone Oma lingered for more than a week, stirring heavy swells and preventing tugboats from attempting to salvage the ship, from where it’s proved stubborn to remove. The reef the Hong Kong-flagged Solomon Trader sits on is part of a World Heritage Area, recognised by the United Nations as a global site of ecological significance that’s already under threat. Rennell is the largest raised...
Seabirds face “agonizing death” as Newfoundland offshore oil spill becomes impossible to clean

Seabirds face “agonizing death” as Newfoundland offshore oil spill becomes impossible to clean

SOURCE: The Energy Mix DATE: November 23, 2018 SNIP: Newfoundland and Labrador has no hope of cleaning up from its worst-ever oil spill, after stormy waters off the east coast broke up at least two ocean oil sheens to the point that 250,000 litres of toxic material can no longer be recovered. The spill “happened on Friday morning while Husky Energy’s SeaRose platform was preparing to restart production during a fierce storm that was, at the time, the most intense in the world,” The Canadian Press reports. By Monday and Tuesday, the oil was no longer visible on the ocean surface, and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) had shifted its attention to monitoring wildlife and investigating the incident. Husky said it had found 15 oiled seabirds so far, but biologists were watching out for a much heavier toll. “Absolutely, any regulatory agency would look at the track record of a company in a case like this, and this will certainly be no exception,” he told CBC. “In this case, the volume of the discharge is significant, and the history of the company, and the fact that it did happen during a severe weather occurrence.” But the Sierra Club Canada Foundation is already pointing to the spill as evidence that “this country is not prepared to handle a major oil spill and is lax in regulating its offshore industry,” iPolitics reports. “Husky is reporting they are unable to confirm the extent of the spill, never mind try and clean it up—a virtually impossible task in seven-metre seas,” said National Program Director Gretchen Fitzgerald. “The fact that they...
A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico verges on becoming one of the worst in U.S. history

A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico verges on becoming one of the worst in U.S. history

SOURCE: Washington Post DATE: October 21, 2018 SNIP: An oil spill that has been quietly leaking millions of barrels into the Gulf of Mexico has gone unplugged for so long that it now verges on becoming one of the worst offshore disasters in U.S. history. Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing from a site 12 miles off the Louisiana coast since 2004, when an oil-production platform owned by Taylor Energy sank in a mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan. Many of the wells have not been capped, and federal officials estimate that the spill could continue through this century. With no fix in sight, the Taylor offshore spill is threatening to overtake BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster as the largest ever. On Sept. 15, 2004, when Hurricane Ivan unleashed 145 mph winds and waves that topped 70 feet as it roared into the Gulf. Deep underwater, the Category 4 storm shook loose tons of mud and buckled the platform.The avalanche sank the colossal structure and knocked it “170 meters down slope of its original location,” researcher Sarah Josephine Harrison wrote in a postmortem of the incident. More than 620 barrels of crude oil stacked on its deck came tumbling down with it. The sleeves that conducted oil from its wells were mangled and ripped away. A mixture of steel and leaking oil was buried in 150 feet of mud. As oil continues to spoil the Gulf, the Trump administration is proposing the largest expansion of leases for the oil and gas industry, with the potential to open nearly the entire outer continental shelf to offshore...
As North Sea Oil Wanes, Removing Abandoned Rigs Stirs Controversy

As North Sea Oil Wanes, Removing Abandoned Rigs Stirs Controversy

SOURCE: Yale E360 DATE: June 26, 2018 SNIP: Two decades ago, the North Sea was one of the world’s largest sources of oil, pumping up 6 million barrels a day. That figure is now down to 1.5 million barrels, and the industry is turning to the task of decommissioning the estimated 600 production platforms in the North Sea. The British sector alone contains 470 of them, along with roughly as many other offshore installations, plus 10,000 kilometers of pipelines and 5,000 wells. The British industry expects to carry out more than 200 decommissions between now and 2025. Many steel rigs will be cut off just below the seabed, and either dragged ashore in one piece or dismantled offshore. A handful of early giant concrete structures, which can weigh as much as 400,000 tons, may have to stay put because there is no way of moving them. The British industry estimates the final bill at $51 billion, though some analysts say it will be double that. Whatever the price, since decommissioning is tax deductible, the cost will be largely born by taxpayers. Are they getting value for their cleanup cash? Will the expenditure even be good for the environment? Some ecologists say no on both counts. [T]here has been a growing debate among marine scientists about whether the cleanup may sometimes do more harm than good. For during their lives of 30-40 years, many of the rigs have turned into valuable marine habitats, providing rare hard structures in a sea whose bed is mostly soft sand and mud. They are surrogate reefs, often occupied by rare species. Linked by ocean...
Ecuador To Sell A Third Of Its Amazon Rainforest To Chinese Oil Companies

Ecuador To Sell A Third Of Its Amazon Rainforest To Chinese Oil Companies

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: March 26, 2018 SNIP: Ecuador plans to auction off more than three million hectares of pristine Amazonian rainforest to Chinese oil companies, angering indigenous groups and underlining the global environmental toll of China’s insatiable thirst for energy. On Monday morning a group of Ecuadorean politicians pitched bidding contracts to representatives of Chinese oil companies at a Hilton hotel in central Beijing, on the fourth leg of a roadshow to publicise the bidding process. Previous meetings in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, and in Houston and Paris were each confronted with protests by indigenous groups. Attending the roadshow were black-suited representatives from oil companies including China Petrochemical and China National Offshore Oil. “Ecuador is willing to establish a relationship of mutual benefit – a win-win relationship,” said Ecuador’s ambassador to China in opening remarks. According to the California-based NGO Amazon Watch, seven indigenous groups who inhabit the land claim that they have not consented to oil projects, which would devastate the area’s environment and threaten their traditional way of life. [NOTE: Ecuador has recognized Rights of Nature in its constitution; this is a clear violation of those...