Like a giant herd of marauding elephants pounding through the forest, BP destroys everything in its wake. Despite the international outcry against one of the world’s worst human-induced environmental disasters, the Deepwater Horizon spill that leaked 92 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, or the company’s tar-sands ambitions in Canada, considered the biggest environmental crime in history, BP keeps on going. Their next target: the Mediterranean.
Not only has BP recently committed to a $900 million USD exploration deal with Libya to exploit Africa’s largest deepwater oil reserves in the Mediterranean Sea, but they have further sealed their hegemony by agreeing to tap Egypt’s deepwater natural gas resources.
BP’s Influence in Egypt
“Production from the West Nile Delta development is projected to reach up to one billion cubic feet per day, providing a major new source of gas for the domestic market in Egypt,” said BP in a statement.
According to journalist Joseph Mayton, in the same statement BP claimed that it will use subsea infrastructure and a new purpose-built onshore gas plant on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast to develop the fields. Gas is expected in late 2014.
Egypt has relied on BP services for 50 years, according to Mayton, and supply 35% of the country’s domestic gas demand. It is also the largest single foreign investor in the country. And they are bound to stay.
During a speech delivered on 19 April, 2010 at Stanford University, BP’s David Eyton acknowledged that the developing world relies on established multinationals to extract natural resources.
“The first lesson we’ve learned is the importance of mutuality. Many countries with major new oil and gas discoveries lack the kind of expertise and technology that I just described as being deployed in the Gulf of Mexico,” he said.
“Governments realize that if they are going to extract those resources and profit from them, they need to partner with somebody who knows what they are doing,” he continued, just 1 day before the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up, killing 11 people.
What Happens When Technology Fails
Despite being capped, the consequences of the leaked oil have not yet sunk in. In addition to possibly killing hundreds of turtles, and endangering the region’s fishing and tourism industries, the slick edged onto the Gulf shore destroying marshlands and other ecosystems.
The real economic and environmental impact, the World Wildlife Fund reports, is so dire that it “defies calculation.”
So what can we look forward to in the Mediterranean, where according to the Interdisciplinary Center for Bioacoustics and Environmental Research, 19 species of Cetaceans and other important marine creatures are already threatened by “habitat degradation mostly due to human activities, such as fisheries, ship traffic, water pollution, coastal anthropization”?
“We have seen that BP and other oil companies do not adhere to regulations and requests from governments,” said an official from Egypt’s Environmental Action Agency (EEAA), who asked not to be named due to security concerns. “Look at the Gulf of Mexico. That is horrific and here in Egypt we also struggle with oil spills on a daily basis, so giving BP this new deal is a sign that the government doesn’t care about the future of Egypt’s marine life and eco-systems.”
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