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Disaster on the Horizon: High Stakes, High Risks, and the Story Behind the Deepwater Well Blowout Paperback – October 22, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Cavnar, a veteran of the energy industry (including early work on oil rigs and pipeline construction), does a more-than-admirable job of clarifying deepwater drilling, specifically the corporate interests behind it and the mechanics and risks associated with it. Cavnar approach his subject like a muckraking reporter, pointing fingers and wringing hands and, though he doesn't spare BP, he argues that their hands were tied. Regarding their lowball estimates of oil spilled in the early days, Cavnar states that "liability is based on the amount of oil released into the environment"; though BP officials "probably had calculated the actual flow rate to within a few percent," releasing those figures would have meant owning up to a much greater liability. Especially chilling is Cavnar's assertion that other disasters will follow Deepwater Horizon, since 27% of domestic production comes from deepwater drilling and a 2009 study of subsea Blow Out Protectors showed a failure rate of 45%. Even if the US were to regulate or ban all offshore drilling, multinational companies would set up deepwater rigs near more lenient nations to sidestep the problem. Ultimately Cavnar issues a call to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels; only this, he suggest, will spare us ecological catastrophe.
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The Gulf economy and the U.S.’ energy policy are still reeling from the BP deepwater drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The worst part of the tragedy is that it never had to happen had the U.S. government and BP adhered to myriad policies and procedures already in place for deepwater oil-well drilling, according to Cavnar, who has 30 years of experience in the oil business, from field hand to chief executive. Cavnar brings insight and perspective to the risks, challenges, and shortcomings of oil drilling, U.S. energy policy, and environmental issues. He cites oil-company arrogance, lax government regulation, and the free-market politics of “drill, baby, drill” that have dominated decisions about the oil industry. Writing with the color and pacing of a thriller, Cavnar recalls the shock of the exploding well 5,000 feet below the surface, the struggles of workers to orient themselves to the danger and chaos, the fuel leak onto beaches and into wetlands that brought the attention of the world, and all the complicated engineering and politicking behind the spill and at play in future drilling. This is an important view of the oil-drilling business that readers don’t generally get to see. Photographs, diagrams, a glossary, and other resources make this book particularly helpful in understanding oil drilling. --Vanessa Bush
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