Imagine paying over $300 for a gallon of gas. That was essentially what Exxon was paying in 1989 when their oil tanker, Valdez, split open and released over 10 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound, Alaska. The cleanup alone is estimated to have cost roughly $2.5 billion and settlements over $1.1 billion. Divide $3.6 billion by 10 million gallons and Exxon paid well over $300 a gallon for oil they never even sold at the pump. Include all the bad PR and the total cost of the whole incident could easily double.
If current estimates are correct about BP’s monster oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico then there is roughly 5 to 6 million gallons of crude floating around in need of some immediate attention. And immediate is the key word because statistics show that the cost to clean up a gallon of oil on land can run 10 to 30 times more than it does at sea.
So what should BP do? Wait and hope the booms hold and the oil never makes it to land. But when it does, they can expect to start paying over $300 a gallon. This wait and hope is not the answer. The answer is in the backs, equipment and know-how of the Gulf area fisherman.
Imagine if BP gathered up all the out of work fishermen and said let’s start a line here. We are looking to get this monster cleaned up as fast as possible, and most importantly, at sea where you gentlemen have the equipment and fortitude to get it done. We will be paying two dollars for every gallon of floating crude you bring us.
What a bargain for BP. Cleaning up the crude at two dollars per gallon is astronomically cheaper than $300 plus. If 90 percent of the floating crude is recovered at sea by the local fisherman the cleanup cost to the company would only be somewhere around $10 million. The fishermen would have a source of income for awhile and BP could avoid years of litigation and settlement costs not to mention all the good PR they would surely get. But most importantly the Gulf area would avoid another catastrophe and get back to business as usual in a matter of no time.
This however is not likely to happen because the politicians and lawyers will surely get between BP and the fishermen. Have we lost the American spirit of self reliance and working together given to us by our freedom and only think lawsuit instead of team work. Forget the lawsuits. You may die before you see a penny. Let’s work together and get back to life. BP, where does the line start?
Author Randy Kubick is pursuing education in mechanical engineering, business and journalism. He teaches diesel power mechanics at Pickens Technical College in Colorado.