Come along as we tour an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
Nearly a quarter of the crude oil produced in the U.S. comes from the Gulf, according to the Energy Information Administration (http://www.eia.gov/special/gulf_of_mexico/). But while you can often drive by an on-shore drilling rig in Texas or North Dakota few of us ever have a chance to see a drilling operation in the Gulf.
Tomorrow Shell is offering NPR and its audience a rare, up-close look at its Olympus drilling rig and platform (pictured above). It’s located about 130 miles south of New Orleans in water that’s about a half-mile deep.
Shell uses helicopters to transport crews out into the Gulf—it’s about an hour ride there. The company requires that all passengers on the helicopter have HUET certification. HUET stands for Helicopter Underwater Egress Training. Essentially the class teaches you what to do if there’s a problem and the aircraft has to “ditch” into the water. Sounds exciting, huh? More on that later.
Drilling for oil in a part of the Amazon rainforest considered one of the most biodiverse hotspots on the planet is to go ahead less than a year after Ecuador’s president lifted a moratorium on oil drilling there.
Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom has proposed to develop Crimea’s oil and gas sector, an official of the Ukrainian region which has applied to join Russia was quoted by RIA news agency as saying on Tuesday.
"Of course, Gazprom was the first to approach us (with a proposal)," said Rustam Temirgaliev, Crimea’s first deputy prime minister.
The London Array is the world’s largest off-shore windfarm. Via NASA.
Twenty kilometers (12 miles) from England’s Kent and Essex coasts, the world’s largest offshore wind farm has started harvesting the breezes over the sea. Located in the Thames Estuary, where the River Thames meets the North Sea, the London Array has a maximum generating power of 630 megawatts (MW), enough to supply as many as 500,000 homes.
The wind farm became fully operational on April 8, 2013. Twenty days later, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of the area. The second image is a closeup of the area marked by the white box in the top image. White points in the second image are the wind turbines; a few boat wakes are also visible. The sea is discolored by light tan sediment—spring runoff washed out by the Thames.
To date, the London Array includes 175 wind turbines aligned to the prevailing southwest wind and spread out across 100 square kilometers (40 square miles). Each turbine stands 650 to 1,200 meters apart (2,100 to 3,900 feet) and 147 meters (482 feet) tall. Each is connected by cables buried in the seafloor, and power is transmitted to two substations offshore and to an onshore station at Cleve Hill.
Offshore Oil Leases in America’s Arctic Rejected by U.S. Court Court
Decision Paves the Way for Obama Administration to Reconsider Drilling in Wildlife-Rich Arctic Waters
Today, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Department of the Interior violated the law when it sold offshore oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska. The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by a coalition of Alaska Native and conservation groups made up of the following: the Native Village of Point Hope, Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Oceana, Pacific Environment, Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and World Wildlife Fund. Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization, represented the groups.
Statement from Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold:
"We don’t know nearly enough about the Chukchi Sea ecosystems - let alone about how to clean up an oil spill in ice-locked seas - to let international corporations go around poking holes in the seafloor," said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold. “We do know that the Arctic Ocean is crucial for marine birds and mammals, holding globally significant feeding and resting areas for dozens of species, and they need to be protected. This decision gives the White House a chance to reconsider drilling in the Chukchi.” Via
TransCanada has begun putting crude oil into the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which eventually will carry up to 700,000 barrels of oil a day between Cushing and refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Researchers find 7,300-sq-mile ring of mercury around tar sands in Canada
Scientists have found a more than 7,300-square-mile ring of land and water contaminated by mercury surrounding the tar sands in Alberta, where energy companies are producing oil and shipping it throughout Canada and the U.S.
Government scientists are preparing to publish a report that found levels of mercury are up to 16 times higher around the tar-sand operations — principally due to the excavation and transportation of bitumen in the sands by oil and gas companies, according to Postmedia-owned Canadian newspapers like The Vancouver Sun.
Environment Canada researcher Jane Kirk recently presented the findings at a toxicology conference in Nashville, Tenn.
The revelations add to growing concerns over the environmental impact of mining the tar sands. Many environmentalists charge that extracting oil from the sands will lead to an increase in carbon emissions, the destruction of the land, water contamination and health problems for Canadians. The debate over the tar sands crossed over into the United States when energy company TransCanada proposed building the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude oil to the southeastern U.S. for refining and distribution.
Kirk and her colleagues’ research shows that the development of the tar sands may be responsible for spreading mercury — which can cause nervous-system damage — far beyond the areas where drilling and transportation are taking place.
More than $100 million in cuts are underway at the federal department in charge of protecting Canada’s water and oceans, despite recommendations from top bureaucrats that it needs to increase spending for both environmental and economic reasons.
According to internal federal briefing notes obtained by Postmedia News, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is eliminating about 500 jobs at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans related to Coast Guard services, patrols to stop illegal fishing activities as well as scientific research to promote conservation, protect endangered species, and prevent industrial water pollution.
The cuts, part of the federal government’s efforts to eliminate its deficit, cover 26 different areas of the department which has a workforce of about 10,000 employees. The downsizing also includes the shutdown of federal libraries and millions of dollars in reductions to climate change adaptation programs. In total, the department estimates it will cut about $80 million per year from its budget by 2014-15, and over $100 million per year in the following fiscal year.
Bump in corn grown for ethanol has polluted water and wiped out 5 million acres of conserved land, AP finds
Five million acres of land — more than in Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite national parks combined — have been pulled from conservation on Obama’s watch, according to Agriculture Department figures.
What’s more, from 2005 to 2010, corn farmers increased their use of nitrogen fertilizer by more than 1 billion pounds. More recent data isn’t available from the Agriculture Department, but because of the huge increase in corn planting, even conservative projections by the AP suggest another billion-pound fertilizer increase on corn farms since then.
Some of that fertilizer has seeped into drinking water, contaminating rivers and boosting the growth of enormous algae fields in the Gulf of Mexico; the algae eventually decompose, sucking oxygen from the water and leaving behind a huge dead zone, currently covering 5,800 square miles of sea floor where marine life can’t survive.
That dead zone is just one example of a peculiar ethanol side effect: As one government program encourages farmers to plant more corn, other programs pay millions to clean up the mess.