If You Oppose Domestic Drilling, You Support Oil Spills

Oil spill specialists and the U.S. Coast Guard are working to contain an 11,000 barrel* spill in southeast Texas near Port Arthur. The inbound tanker, the Eagle Otome, flying a Malaysian flag, was struck by a barge. More details below the fold.

We have to import oil in boats because 1) many Americans are averse to exploring for it domestically, and 2) regardless of our “green” rhetoric, our appetite for oil is unabated.

If we explored more in the U.S., we could move the oil in pipelines, which is much a safer method of transportation. With a pipeline, you have a fixed facility at either end; if something happens to the pipeline, you can tell right away. Any spill is limited to the volume of the line.

Even spills from offshore oil platforms are usually small in volume and relatively inconsequential to the environment because they happen far from shore. A tiny fraction of the oil in the marine environment is from oil producing operations; most of it comes from natural seeps.

Texas oil spill vessels separated, Coast Guard reports

Crews try to protect wildlife from Texas oil spill

The U.S. Coast Guard said about 462,000 gallons (1.75 milion liters) — or 11,000 barrels — of oil spilled into the water Saturday when an 800-foot (244-meter) Malaysian-flagged tanker headed for an Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery in Beaumont collided with a towing vessel pushing two barges near Port Arthur, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) east of Houston.

It was the largest spill in Texas since 1994, but still well shy of one 20 years ago involving Norwegian tanker Mega Borg that leaked 4.3 million gallons (16.28 million liters) of crude oil about 60 miles (96 kilometers) off Galveston.

Photo credit: Julio Cortez, Houston Chronicle/The Associated Press

Cross-posted at VladEnBlog.

*[UPDATE] The AP reports that something like 1,000 barrels is actually on the water.

According to Petty Officer Richard Brahm, the ship’s crew members said they pumped 69,000 barrels from the damaged tank that carried 80,000 barrels, so they have 11,000 barrels — about 450,000 gallons (1.7 million liters) — that they could not account for.

Several local officials said only 1,000 barrels, or about 42,000 gallons (160,000 liters), of oil had been spilled into the water.