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I’m a geologist and these events are unrelated to the Transocean/BP accident (which was probably caused by equipment failure). A USGS seismologist (US Geological Survey earthquake scientist) was recently interviewed on a news program and stated that magnitude 7.0 + earthquakes happen somewhere on the earth an average of 25 times a month. The ones we’ve heard so much about in the news recently (e.g. Haiti and Chile) were near population centers and caused a lot of devastation, so were reported by news media. Just because we hear about it doesn’t make it more frequent. Additionally, the rock type in
the Gulf of Mexico makes it less susceptible to earthquakes.
One thing I have to clear up here is that it wasn’t BP that caused this accident. BP contracted Transocean to drill the well. It was Transocean’s rig and most of their personnel there. Because BP leased the area from the US government (the Mineral Management Service), it is responsible for the oil and the environmental damage the oil leaks are causing. I have first-hand knowledge of how deepwater wells are planned and I can tell you that safety and environmental considerations are topmost in concern. A company would be foolish to not plan these extreme wells in that way. BP engineers and scientists are not foolish.
It’s easy to blame “big bad oil”, but that’s not the whole story. Our society needs to learn that our insatiable appetite for oil requires drilling in increasingly difficult areas that require more & more complex engineering technology. Maybe this accident will be a wake-up call to our country to move more quickly toward better energy alternatives.