BP Gulf Disaster – Our ‘Energy Pearl Harbor’?

Ft. Lauderdale, EnergyOcean Conference –

The most compelling moment of TradeFair Group’s EnergyOcean 2010 Conference was surely the Tuesday keynote address by former George W. Bush energy adviser and 30-year oil industry investment veteran, Matt Simmons.

Simmons, founder and chairman emeritus of Simmons & Co. and author of “Twilight in the Desert,” shared with the audience of several hundred people his take on the BP oil spill and his predictions on what the end result will be

Here are the highlights of his speech:

  • The Gulf oil spill is America’s “Energy Pearl Harbor.”
  • BP has been “lying” about the volume of oil. Simmons estimated 120,000 barrels a day are coming out of Deepwater Horizon’s broken well – five times more than current government estimates.
  • Even though the Obama administration has dismissed the nuclear option, it may be the only way to stop the oil – or it could flow through 2020.
  • BP will be bankrupt in three months.
  • If Obama’s administration does not send tankers into the Gulf with deep water vacuuming capacity, then the next hurricane will “paint” the entire Gulf region with oil and turn it into a “superfund site the likes of which we’ve never seen.” (NOAA officials predict an intense hurricane season this year with as many as 23 tropical storms and hurricanes forming in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.)
  • Gulf Coast refineries that use large quantities of water will be impacted and possibly shut down for some period of time. The result will be a substantial hike in gas prices.

These assertions, which he also discussed in an interview on MSNBC, are not without controversy. But Mr. Simmons’s long history in the energy business and his previous experience in the oil fields and rigs makes his keynote speech and the MSNBC interview all the more chilling.

Surely no person can be an expert in oceanography, ocean biology, oil markets and the mechanics of offshore oil drilling. But if even half of what Mr. Simmons had to say is true, the BP oil spill is a game changer in the national conversation about energy. It can fundamentally and permanently alter the landscape of energy consumption and shift the paradigm of how the public views prospective energy sources.

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