Drilling on the Horizon?

For the past couple months, I’ve been thinking and thinking about how to blog about a topic that is really important to our lives. I couldn't find a good way of addressing everything I want to say. Over the past few weeks, a number of friends and family have asked me how the Horizon oil spill is impacting our lives. After seeing this story online today and seeing some online chatter, I thought it was time to tell my part of the story why I'm pissed, and sad, and angry, and a little bit hopeful. I also thought it would be easier to just put it out there so everyone would know how we are and what the future might hold.

I was really happy to see that a judge took action to halt the drilling moratorium. For those of you who don’t know, my husband works in the deepwater oil industry. Drilling for oil quite literally provides for our family. When I first heard about the Deepwater Horizon explosion, my first thought was, Oh my God, please don’t let any one we know be on the rig. Thankfully, none of our friends were on the rig. But, it is the exact type of rig that my husband has worked on before. *Note that my husband rarely goes to work on the rigs. He is a business guy and will go on rig every once in awhile, but not to the extent of the other guys in the company.* My second thought was, We have to make sure that the rest of the guys (who work for the company) have enough work because this is going to get bad before it gets better. My third-Great; from what I’ve heard about BP, this is going to be a long process. We know several guys who have worked for and with BP on similar projects and BP is notoriously bad about making decisions and delays.

Of course, I worried about the oil spill’s effect on the economy. I knew the Gulf economy was going to be hit through fishing and tourism as well as a rise in the price of oil. I also knew that there would be a domino effect from the rig workers and engineers that can’t work as a result of the spill. The life of an drill rig worker involves long periods of time on rigs at a moment’s notice. So, most of the wives in the company don’t work. If rigs are not being drilled, this means that these families have no way of bringing income to their homes. We needed to make sure that our guys were taken care of. Thankfully, over the past year, some of the drilling projects the company works on have migrated somewhat out of the Gulf to other areas of the globe. If we can keep working outside the Gulf, we should be fine. It's been an anxious couple of months for me, but I think we should be fine. But, that certainly doesn’t help the other families who work only in the Gulf. It doesn’t help the shrimpers or birds or the thousands of others affected by this mess.

One problem with relying on oil is that obtaining the oil (whether on land or at sea) is dangerous. Inherently dangerous. We have accepted the risk as a society. Until a better solution is discovered, we accept the risks of drilling for oil. There are mechanisms to make drilling somewhat safer and kinder to the environment, but it will never be 100% safe or 100% clean. The Horizon well (if it had been drilled properly) would have been a solid source of oil. From the beginning, it was apparent that the only way to slow the spill was to side drill to siphon off some of the oil. Of course its going to take time to set up a new well. But, it seems like everything should be moving much faster than it is. I heard a news show touting several clean-up solutions that, for whatever reason, have been blocked or denied. We are a very green family. I have been heavily involved in conservation efforts for decades-I was green long before it was cool or trendy. We live with a finite number of resources and we need to protect and preserve what we have. The lack of action cleaning up the spill and protecting the rest of our coastline is maddening.

I think the time is right to start drilling again. However, this time the government should demand full drilling and spill remediation plans from every company seeking to drill. (BP did not have to submit these plans since the government deemed an explosion/spill was low risk!) The remediation plans should be realistic and able to be readily deployed. Many companies are already employing additional testing prior to drilling, and I think that will and should continue. As long as there is demand for oil, there should be investment in oil remediation methods-whether by private or public investment.

I am incredibly sad for the families of the men who went down with Horizon. I am also sad for the families who are in limbo, for the Gulf waters and shore. Most of all I'm mad at BP. I'm not alone feeling sad or mad at the situation. I just hope it resolves quickly-for everyone involved.


  1. Really great post...agree wholeheartedly with pretty much everything you said.

  2. It was so interesting hearing this from your perspective, Elz. There are so many things to take into account regarding this and you are so right when you use the word "limbo" to describe the lives and futures of people who work in this industry. I hope that things are resolved swiftly and amicably for everyone too.

    Best wishes,

  3. Such a great post. It's very hard to be an oil industry worker right now. The level of frustration is very high, I feel as you do about why things aren't being done faster. I feel bad for my friends and colleagues who work at BP, and I feel angry with BP the company for what appears to be a cultural lack of respect for safety issues. This tragic accident impacts an entire industry, our water, our birds, our fish, our people. The livelihoods of so many people have been affected.

    Thanks for a great post, Elz.

  4. Here, here. In a previous life I worked around and with all those fat-fingered guys on those rigs. What they do is honorable and dangerous - and it's time the industry acted as such.

    It is time to start drilling again - this situation will get resolved. Nature will right itself. I hope the industry makes the necessary changes - before the regulators get involved.

    Great post.

  5. You can imagine that i feel much as you do!!!

  6. I agree. I am so glad you wrote about this. I think you are right and had no idea how close you were to this situation. I feel like the whole situation is being hijacked for other agendas and that reasonable thought is being ignored.


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