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.