Is Repeat Of Mexican Gulf Catastrophe Possible?


By Vladimir Gladkov

US activists of nature protection are again protesting against plans to build a pipeline which would connect oil deposits in Canada with oil-refining plants in Texas.

It is planned that this pipeline will be a prolongation of the Keystone pipeline network and will be named Keystone XL. It will be 2,735,000-km long, and will go across the territories of Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Its final destination will be oil-refining plants in the cities of Houston and Port Arthur.

United States
United States

The plan to build this pipeline first appeared in 2008 – and stirred sharp criticism from the very beginning. Besides protests from nature protectors, the project’s authors also had to face several lawsuits from oil-refining companies.

However, the majority of high-ranking Republicans support this project. They say that it would create many new jobs for Americans. Besides, they claim that with this project, the US will cease to depend from oil from the Middle East.

Still, it looks like all this rhetoric has not convinced President Obama. In January 2012, he declined this project, much to the disliking of many conservative politicians. The main reason behind Mr. Obama’s decision, as he explains, was that the Republicans themselves appointed a very short term for this project to be discussed in Congress.

However, some experts say that the advocates of this project overestimate its merits, as well as the opponents – its disadvantages. In particular, the author of an article recently published in the Washington Post does not share the concern of some ecologists that the plants which would refine the Canadian oil in Texas allegedly may spoil the region’s ecology. On the other hand, the article says that Republicans probably pin too many hopes on this project. It is hardly likely that if the US ceases to depend on oil from the Middle East, this would be very profitable for the country’s economy. Prices for oil are determined mainly by the amount of its consuming in the entire world, and it would be wrong to suppose that Canadian oil would cost the US considerably cheaper than oil from the Middle East. The figure of 220,000 new jobs, which, as Republicans claim, this project allegedly may create for Americans, is also overestimated, the paper says.

The US authorities often speak of their adherence to careful protection of nature – but in reality, as practice shows, they are ready for compromises in this sphere. Talks between the US authorities and British Petroleum, due to whose fault the largest ever oil split took place in the Gulf of Mexico, lasted more than a year and a half, before BP finally agreed to pay $ 4.5 bln for the damage which this catastrophe caused to the US ecology. By the way, this is the largest sum of a fine in the entire history of the US justice.

Still, it looks like some US politicians have drawn no lessons from the accident in the Gulf of Mexico. Recently, the US authorities allowed the Shell company to drill a new borehole in the sea bottom near Alaska, although ecologists say that the preliminary experts’ inspection of this site was made with rough violations of laws and norms, and that this project may threaten with a new catastrophe, which would be even more large-scale than the one in the Gulf of Mexico.

Several days ago, another catastrophe took place at an oil platform near Louisiana’s shore – two people were killed as a result of an explosion.

Taking all this into account, one may share the concern of the opponents of this pipeline project. If some US politicians care so little about the ecological security in their own country, there are grounds to suppose that this pipeline project may present a threat to the country’s ecology as well.


VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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