Chavez: Don’t worry about that sunken drilling rig!
Maybe natural gas isn’t a “green” fossil fuel after all.
Early this morning, a Venezuelan natural gas exploration rig the Aban Pearl sank in (wait for it) the Gulf of Mexico, according to Reuters. The news broke on President Hugo Chavez’s twitter account and early indications are that there is no risk of a gas leak – though this not particularly reassuring coming from the Venezuelan government.
Let’s begin with a few caveats before the invective against offshore drilling:
No doubt, exploration and drilling rigs encounter problems all of the time and we are now hypersensitive about the issue because of BP’s deep sea gusher.
Also, this accident does not fundamentally alter the fact that natural gas is a cleaner-burning energy source than coal and is abundant in North America.
We are getting a new view of the dangers of extracting fossil fuels and seeing that we have drastically underestimated the costs of drilling, both in monetary and environmental terms.
Previously, we had been concerned with how dependence on foreign oil forced us to prop up corrupt petrostates that encourage, actively and tacitly, anti-western sentiment and terrorism.
Now, we see one reason we had become dependent on foreign states for energy resources – extracting it from our own territories has become increasingly difficult and dangerous, both to human life and the environment.
True, Venezuela is one of those hostile petrostates, but we’re drilling in the same body of water and the companies that are extracting the gas are from all over the world, including the United States.
The rig that sank was owned by Petromarine Energy Services of Singapore, a company that is linked to India’s Aban Offshore.
American oil major Chevron also plans to tap some 7 trillion cubic feet of gas in a project off the Orinoco Delta.
All of this means that we should pause when Exxon-Mobil, BP’s Tony Hayward and converted greenie T. Boone Pickens exhort us to see natural gas as a fuel that will help us transition to the new green economy.
It still needs to be yanked out of the ground at great expense and environmental peril.