Katrina: the bigger story

TheOilDrum.com has excellent reportage on Katrina’s impact on the oil industry, including the startling news that six or seven oil rigs in the Gulf might be adrift.

(Reuters is confirming that two rigs are adrift, TheOilDrum.com says “We’ve heard from an industry insider that there may be as many as six or seven, but that’s only one (very reliable) source.”)

Read their
Refinery, Pipeline, and Rig Damage Information
Why this matters: Katrina and peak oil
An expanded version of what I meant to say on the Beeb 

Even if there isn’t serious damage to the offshore rigs and pipelines, and even if the shipping channels don’t need to be dredged, everything still needs to be checked and double-checked before operations are back online, and that will take time – which means shortages and price volatility.

That’s a lot of if’s. Chances are, one or more parts of the supply chain will have major parts broken. Then the shortages and volatility might last for months, maybe longer.

This is why I’ve been covering Katrina so much. I sense a much bigger story unfolding. Oil supplies have been disrupted. Cities and towns have been devastated. That means huge federal, state, and local outlays of money at a time when none of them can afford it. Especially not with Dubya’s insane wars for empire which already are bankrupting the nation. Now this. Where will the money come from?

Levees don’t work. Scientists and environmentalists have been screaming for years that levees, in the long run, just make things worse, only to be ignored by business interests. Had a million acres of wetlands in the Mississippi delta not been lost over the past seven decades, the impact of Katrina would have been far less. Much of this loss is due to levees, as well as other short-sighted, often greedy, practices that destroy the land so someone can make a buck. Will they listen now? Will there be real change?

Global warming is contributing to the ferocity of these storms, there’s little doubt of that any more, except among the Flat-Earthers in D.C. who, in a bizarre coincidence, have vested financial interests they are protecting.  Future generations, and, after Karina, maybe this generation too, will no doubt view them as criminally reckless and unthinking.

Several newspapers, among them the LA Times, have noted that the well-off got to flee New Orleans while the poor, elderly, and infirm didn’t, which seems like the system failed those who needed it most. Whatever their disaster plan was, it wasn’t up to the obviously enormous task at hand. Sticking people in the SuperDome only to have part of the roof blow off would seem to demonstrate that.

Then there’s the economic impact. People can’t get to their jobs, if they still have a job to get to, that is How will they pay the bills? We’re talking hundreds of thousands of people here, and they will start getting cranky in a month or two.

The Miami Herald is reporting that tens of thousands are now homeless, at least for the next several weeks, maybe months. In a month or two, especially if relief efforts are slow or blundering, how will they react? There’s more than a possibility of serious ‘social unrest’ – and maybe quite justifiably so.

The impact of Katrina will extend far beyond the normal realms of hurricanes, and will impact society and politics for quite a while to come.

PS Bloomberg: U.S. economy may slow from hurricane’s effect on oil supply.


After centuries of ‘controlling’ land, Gulf learns who’s the boss

Although early travelers realized the irrationality of building a port on shifting mud in an area regularly ravaged by storms and disease, the opportunities to make money overrode all objections.

The New Orleans Times Picayune is evacuating their own offices due to rising water, check their breaking news feed here.