The West Atlas Rig has now been leaking oil into the Timor Sea (the Montara oil spill) for more than two months. Up to 2,000 barrels a day, every day, since August 21.
The slick continues to grow and spread. In one direction, it’s now reached Indonesia.
Several attempts to clean up the spill have been made – spraying the area with dispersants (which, even if it worked, wouldn’t alter the fact that the oil is still pouring out), some shenanigans about bringing another rig across, tow lines snapping, and PTTEP refusing the assistance of a rival company, and then the utter failure a few weeks back to plug the leak with mud. Apparently, oil company rhetoric notwithstanding, we don’t actually have very good technology for fixing the big holes in the seabed that we keep drilling.
Of course, it’s just remote bits of our ocean territory that are being despoiled, so it’s not like we’re going to be putting pressure on our local MPs to apply more resources to fixing the problem. Is it a major topic of debate in Parliament? Hell no.
The thing that gets me is that we’re acting as if this is a disaster that’s concluded, that we just need to tidy up after, rather than one which is continuing to get worse. Every single day. It’s extraordinary.
ELSEWHERE: Andrew Bartlett has a good write-up of the situation at Asian Correspondent.
AND CONSIDER: If the destruction of wildlife and the long-term pollution of our oceans doesn’t move you – what about the loss of all that precious, precious oil?
UPDATE: The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society argues:
“It is shocking that ecosystem and wildlife monitoring around the rig wasn’t in place to start with” said Dr Bossley. “If the Australian Government is serious about mitigating the threats of oil spills they should immediately freeze all new oil and gas exploration applications; develop much stronger conditions and controls over all oil and gas rig and shipping activities; and identify and fully protect all cetacean critical habitats in a network of marine sanctuaries before any oil and gas acreage is released again. The fox minding the henhouse is not good enough.”
It’s a good point.