The spill from the Montara platform blowout continues unabated since August 21, now in its 33rd day. Using the oil company’s unsubstantiated estimate of 400 barrels (=16,800 gallons) per day, that means at least half a million gallons have been spilled, Australia’s worst offshore oil production spill since drilling began there 40 years ago. Critics calculate the spill rate could be much higher – closer to 3,000 barrels per day – based on the flow rates of nearby oil production wells. If that’s accurate then over 4 million gallons have been spilled so far, with at least three more weeks to go before the runaway well can be controlled. By either measure, this ranks as one of the worst offshore oil spills ever, and it happened at a new, state-of-the-art platform.
If you get your world news here in the United States from major TV networks or newspapers, you’d never know this was happening. This incident hasn’t been mentioned by the Washington Post, despite the fact that politicians on Capitol Hill are calling for oil drilling off the beaches of Florida, the Carolinas, and Virginia, and in the salmon-rich waters of Bristol Bay in Alaska.
Kevin Hassett with Bloomberg News explores the political significance of this spill and it’s relevance to the drilling debate here in the US. Some of the Florida media are making the same connection, with TV news pieces, articles and editorials that pose the question: what if it happened here? Folks in Alaska are also starting to take notice.