June 7, 2010

"Shell has so much to be proud of."

Stumbled upon this video while idly surfing the Web looking for some explainer material on ultra-deepwater oil drilling technology.  Then I found and grabbed the above graphic of the aforementioned Royal Dutch Shell Oil Perdido Spar -- a mammoth rig that should scare the bejeezus out of anyone who thinks the Deepwater Horizon-Gulf of Mexico oil disaster is a one-and-done tragedy.

Not only is this bad boy set to become the deepest of the ultra-deepwater drilling platform, but it will spawn a jaw-dropping 22(!) remotely-operated oil wells, spread out like ants at a picnic (or potential cluster bombs) on the sea floor, at depths no human body - or most manned submarines - can withstand.

And it's not the only one out there.

At this point, I have to admit that, with three sisters who are scientists (and as a secret techno-freak), I'm awed by the engineering smarts and design capability it took to even create such a colossus, much less transport it and figure out exactly where to station it, how to drill wells remotely and pump the oil up from the crushing pressure at the bottom of the sea.

Nevertheless, watching the video -- certainly produced well before the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe -- is like seeing the unleashing of a technological genie that will never be rebottled.  The mind reels: if Deepwater Horizon created such an unholy mess in "only" 5,000 feet of water, creating unseen, likely irreversible damage to the water column, fouling wetlands and scarring an entire region, what the hell are we supposed to do if something goes haywire more than two miles down?

Not to mention there are some big jaw-breaking nuggets of irony in the video.  See if you can identify them all; here's a hint for the first one.

First prize is this and a case of Dawn dishwashing liquid; runner-ups get 1,000 feet of used containment booms.  All entrants will receive a bag full of fresh tarballs plucked from a Florida beach.

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