In possibly the worst incidence of deja vu in recent memory, BP says that it still might drill in the massive reservoir where the Deepwater Horizon leak unleashed over 4 million gallons of oil. BP’s reasoning is most likely a combination of pure greed and a realization that domestic oil resources are limited–the reservoir is estimated to hold $4 billion worth of oil, according to the Associated Press.
You might think that BP would be banned from deepwater drilling in the Gulf, but in fact the former Minerals Management Service has approved nearly 200 leases for deepwater tracts since the disaster, including 12 leases for BP. Four of those 12 leases are in the Mississippi Canyon area, right near the site of the Deepwater Horizon leak.
Is BP capable of safely maintaining a deepwater well? Maybe. A consortium of oil companies recently formed to generate a rapid response plan for deepwater sites in the Gulf of Mexico, and a comprehensive oil containment system is expected to be revealed in the next 18 months. But the Deepwater Horizon disaster already brought the Gulf perilously close to becoming a dead zone–we’re not so sure it could weather another one-in-a-million accident.
Drilling accidents have never stopped oil companies before, of course. BP still operates the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field–the source of the Exxon Valdez’s oil as well as the site of a 267,000 gallon leak in 2006. And BP is pushing ahead with risky offshore Alaska drilling. So until someone finally says “no” to BP’s requests, disastrous oil spills will continue to loom in the future.