And the good news is that as of about 2:30 this afternoon, BP announced that they had stopped the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Not “reduced” it, STOPPED it. They did so using yet another cap placed over the exposed wellhead. This is sort of confusing, because I thought they had said that the casing was leaking from more than one place – not solely out the end of the severed pipe, but at other places upstream as well.
But I’m not arguing. If they say they have it stopped, good for them! It’s great news.
You have to know that BP was trying as hard as they could to figure out a way to cap that well without relying on the relief wells to kill it. I believe that the future of deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico depends on the oil companies proving that they have the technology to stop a major leak. Without that assurance, the government isn’t going to be highly disposed to allow more drilling. So let us hope that this cap works until the relief wells can get in there and kill it for good...or, at least until BP figures out what they’re going to do in that lease-block.
People keep asking me what the beaches are like along this part of the gulf coast. Now I can't speak for the Alabama and Mississippi coastlines, but I have to say that here in Pensacola, aside from one stretch of days when he had it pretty bad, the worst we got were tar balls and patties which are either "horrible" or "tolerable" depending on your point of view. That’s not to say we are completely oil-free, but our beaches have not been closed and the water is still arguably swimmable.
I say “arguably” because there are those who believe that the gulf is so polluted by the massive amount of oil that’s already been leaked that swimming in it poses some long-term health risks. Unfortunately, if these people are right, the effects may not become apparent for some time.
Tourism has definitely been harmed. Understandably, business is down at hotels and restaurants and other related businesses. What’s surprising (and a little disappointing) is to hear all the people who are already getting ready to hit BP up for “lost revenue” due to this accident. Anecdotally, I heard of one aerial photographer who was amassing his flight records from last year to prove that his business was worse this year...and that it was the fault of BP and the oil spill, of course. Not saying that people are going to be deceitful, but it does appear that some believe that there is an open, unlimited checkbook for "compensation," however weak a case can be made for it. It will be interesting to see how long BP continues to pay up merely to avoid class-action lawsuits.
I'm thinking that the money faucet is fixing to be turned off like the flow from the oil well, and soon! A couple of things may influence this:
1) The one thing we do not know is how nature is going to handle this situation. The gulf has incredible restorative powers. I am optimistic (although I seem to be the only one) that the oil that is already in the water won't remain in its present state forever, or until it washes up on some tourist beach or Louisiana swampland. In fact, I believe the gulf will heal itself pretty quickly.
2) Once the oil has stopped leaking, and the pollution in the gulf has been reduced to random areas of tar balls and patties, tourism may increase for the rest of the season. People may come to the gulf coast to vacation after all. It might not be a total loss. August and September might be okay.
Ahhh, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's just see what happens next. In any event, getting the oil leak stopped is major news, and we're all glad to hear it.