First Rig Leaves Gulf Over Drill Ban


President Obama’s moratorium on deepwater drilling may be stuck in legal limbo for the time being, but it’s already having a tangible effect: The first idled drilling rig has sailed away from the Gulf of Mexico to work off the coast of Egypt, reports the Houston Chronicle. Diamond Offshore, based in Houston, based its decision on the “uncertainties surrounding the offshore drilling moratorium,” and industry analysts say others will follow suit.

For critics of the moratorium, it means lost US jobs. Each ship has about 100 workers aboard, and it requires a network of vendors on shore to keep it supplied, explains the Chronicle.

Read more:

Some believe the administration does not intend this to happen. I’m not one of those who do.

The Obama Administration is filing moratorium after moratorium. As fast as they are defeated in court, they file another one.

The daily cost of a rig is so high, the companies that own them cannot pay their bank loans that they used to build these huge machines if they let them sit idle. And the risk is just too high that the Obama Administration may figure out a way to be successful with their moratoriums.

And there are plenty of other countries that want those rigs working for THEM.

It takes so long to build a deep water rig that it may be years before we get them back or get new ones to replace the rigs that are moving away.

Honestly, I’d much rather let them drill elsewhere and let some other country deal with another nasty oil spill which can only ruin the environment.

There have been nasty oil spills for decades and they haven’t “ruined the environment”.

There are lists, some of which appear on various threads here on CAF. For example, the Exxon Valdez which is often used as the gold standard for oil spill disasters currently ranks only about #35 on the list of the world’s worst oil spills.

Not only that, but folks who worry so much about oil rig spills and tanker spills completely ignore the natural seepage of oil from the ocean floor.

AND, oil tanker disasters cause far more oil spills than oil rig disasters. AND, by stopping drilling, we are running much higher risks of oil spills when we have to import more and more oil from overseas.

However, not having the drill rigs means we have to buy our oil from someone else, and most of the oil is produced by countries that are somewhat hostile to freedom and democracy.

Basically, we are increasingly being held hostage by hostile regimes and we are refusing to do anything to help ourselves. To make matters worse, many of those hostile regimes are financing terrorism which is directed against … the United States. So we are paying for our defense and we are paying for the people who are attacking us.

On top of that, we are causing massive unemployment in the U.S. energy sector.

What is wrong with this picture?

Now, there is something painless that we could do: adopt a standard such that every car produced must be able to burn methanol. Which we can make from natural gas.

It is called “Flex Fuel” … any mix of gasoline and methanol. Any alcohol. But methanol is cheaper than ethanol.

But, none of the members of Congress or the president are interested.

Now, what could be done is for each governor of each state to impose that requirement for vehicles sold in that state. The technology is already in production. Costs somewhere around $100 per car. Thereabouts.

Methanol is widely used as a racing fuel because it is safer than gasoline.

In 2005, the governor of California ordered usage of methanol stopped and ethanol used instead. [sigh]

I understand. But think of it this way. You live in New York. I live in a place where I can easily heat my house with wood, but probably won’t need to because I’m not too far from existing oil and gas fields.

I remember times when there were home heating oil shortages in the northeast. Do you really want to risk additional dependency on foreign sources, knowing how vulnerable your huge population really is?

Gosh. Even I don’t want to risk that for you.

As a Canadian, I an aware that the Alberta Athabasca Oilsands, which provide America with a third of their oil needs, leaves a real mess too. It is something that we have to deal with, and the more that the Obama administration drives up the price of our oil by driving away American domestic producers, the easier it is to stomach what is happening to the environment of northern Alberta, frankly.

It is not that Obama and his administration are not engaged in the same kind of sabre-rattling against the Canadian tar sands either.

No matter. What Americans will not buy, the Chinese most certainly will.

We all want, seek and demand better solutions. But, to pretend that we do not need oil as the main solution to our energy needs in the foreseeable future shows a real disconnect with reality. People who cannot afford to pay for oil will not seek out higher cost, cleaner energy. They will be forced into lower cost dirty energy in order to keep them warm and cook their food.

New York City had MAJOR problems with their electric supply during the heat wave last week. They have shortchanged themselves in electric generation.

If we have a bad winter coming up, NYC could really suffer. Not only not enough heating oil, but shortages of electricity for electric heaters as well.


It is nasty.
Insisting on 0 risk is actually the biggest risk of all. It is deadly, especially for the old and infirm, to have to face the heat of summer or the cold of winter without sufficient energy to ward off the elements.

BINGO!!! Sadly, that’s exactly what will happen. Just like with food. People who can not afford organic don’t buy it. The really poor people end up buying highly processed foods which are not really good for them. The same thing will happen with energy.

Seems like the U.S. is more intent on turning corn into expensive and less fuel efficient ethanol than in using our abundant natural gas resources to produce methanol.

As an aside, AT&T has started switching over to vehicles fueled by compressed natural gas.

The reason we are not using methanol is because of people like ADM and Monsanto. They have the corn business locked and have politicians in their pocket. Natural gas can be liquefied into many forms such as diesel. Coal can also be gassified or liquefied into other fuels. The German and South African have the technology. Shell’s natural gas liquefaction plant can produce 300,000 bbl of diesel fuel a day. Shell will still profit if oil drops to $20. PetroSA’s Fischer-Tropsch coal plant can produce about 100,000 bbl of diesel fuel a day. Montana’s 120 billion tons (109 billion metric tons) of coal could supply the nation’s gas, diesel, and jet fuel needs for the next 40 years. The U.S. has billions of tons of coal . Why we aren’t investing into those foreign technologies is beyond me.

I worked for ADM one summer while in high school. But that was back when they still used grains for food! The testing lab and the testing bakery provided each employee in the lab with two loaves of bread each day. It was a bonus.

Good question. It has sometimes seemed to me that there is a certain schadenfreude pervasive on the left. They aren’t happy if people aren’t suffering needlessly. They are typically the ones who argue for population limitation as well as resource scarcity and non-utilization. One is tempted to wonder whether they simply hate humanity.

Life is rarely as simple as the internet would have you believe. The methanol based oxygenate called MTBE for short was used for a number of years as a means of addressing air pollution. Brutal experience taught us in the engineering field that it was a HORRIBLE idea. Plain gasoline, when it leaks from an underground storage tank (and virtually all of them eventually do. Today’s double wall containment ones haven’t leaked much YET, but give them time…), is still insoluble in water AND floats on top. The contamination plume in the soil and groundwater is relatively easy to locate, isolate, capture and remove.

When gas with MBTE leaks, the MBTE is soluble in water and a tiny amount makes groundwater toxic. Since it doesn’t float and is soluble there is quite simply no viable way to clean it up. A leaky tank destroys the viability of groundwater for GENERATIONS. Ethanol has comparatively little toxicity, so it is FAR better with our existing gas station system of fueling this country. Not so simple, eh?

As for the guy who feels better that the spills will occur elsewhere, nice attitude. Google NIMBY. Unless y’all are pedaling to work everyday that’s a pretty poor attitude.

MTBE is not methanol. My understanding is that MTBE was used as a substitute for lead as an octane enhancer.

Methanol when used as a fuel is mixed with gasoline. It has advantages and disadvantages.

Personally, I prefer gasoline.

It is a combination of methanol and butane. It was originally an octane booster, but got used in much higher doses more recently to reduce air pollution (ironically causing water pollution in the process).

I don’t beleive m85 is useable in conventional cars, even those sold as flex-fuel, but I’m not that kind of engineer! The California ban is almost certainly based on the MTBE debacle and methanol is very much a part of that.

Remember, not all of us live in the city; like you I can heat my home with wood, oil or coal if i had to. We don’t have to rely on foreign sources; we can always tap into the strategic oil reserves that we maintain in this country. There are plenty of alternative energy sources that can be utilized in the US and we’re seeing more and more of it every year.

Nice word spinning.

No such thing as clean energy. Or clean anything. What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? No clean anything. If you want clean, then collect your own personal waste products and save them instead of inflicting them on other people.

Oil gets drilled for; and oil gets transported. Drilling is better and cleaner than transporting. AND sometimes, oil just happens to leak from the ground. By itself. If you can collect and use it, then it’s not a problem; if it makes a mess, then it is a problem.

Let’s get back to chemistry. Basic stuff.

First, MTBE is NOT methanol. Different thing.

MTBE is manufactured … via the chemical reaction of methanol and isobutylene. MTBE is not a mixture. It is a manufactured product.

Methanol and ethanol are both alcohols.

Since 1992, MTBE has been used at higher concentrations in some gasoline to fulfill the oxygenate requirements set by the United States Congress in Clean Air Act amendments; however, since 1999, in California and other locations MTBE has begun to be phased out because of groundwater contamination.[4] Due to its higher solubility in water MTBE moves more quickly than other fuel components.[4] The Energy Policy Act of 2005 reduces the federal requirement for oxygen content in reformulated gasoline.[5]

methyl tert-butyl ether

In 2000, the U.S. government banned adding MTBE to gasoline.

This is interesting: Wiki said this "Most American gasoline retailers have ceased using MTBE as an oxygenate and US production has declined. " In fact, the Feds banned it.

MTBE is almost exclusively used as a fuel component in engine gasoline. It is one of a group of chemicals commonly known as oxygenates because they raise the oxygen content of gasoline. Which was a Federal government requirement.

According to Wiki:

In 1995 high levels of MTBE were unexpectedly discovered in the water wells of Santa Monica, California, and the U.S. Geological Survey reported detections.[6] Subsequent U.S. findings indicate tens of thousands of contaminated sites in water wells distributed across the country. As per toxicity alone, MTBE is not classified as a hazard for the environment, but it imparts an unpleasant taste to water already at very low concentrations. The maximum contaminant level of MTBE in drinking water has not yet been established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The leakage problem is partially attributed to the lack of effective regulations for underground storage tanks, but spillage from overfilling is also a contributor. As an ingredient in unleaded gasoline, MTBE is the most water soluble component. When dissolved in groundwater, MTBE will lead the contaminant plume with the remaining components such as benzene and toluene following. Thus the discovery of MTBE in public groundwater wells indicates that the contaminant source was a gasoline release. Its criticism and subsequent decreased usage, some claim, is more a product of its easy detectability (taste) in extremely low concentrations (ppb) than its toxicity. The MTBE concentrations used in the EU (usually 1.0–1.6%) and allowed (maximum 5%) in Europe are lower than in California.[7]

Racers prefer methanol. For one thing, when it burns it doesn’t give off smoke.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit