Oil and gas exploration is, and always has been, a dangerous business. Even though it ranks among the most capital- and technology-intensive industries, anytime you work with combustible fluids at outrageously high pressures in often hostile environments, you have the potential for disaster.

After giving it about five minutes of thought, I can think of two ways that Tuesday’s disaster on the Transocean Horizon might have been the result of sabotage.

  1. The wellsite supervision, rig crew and major service providers on the scene were complicit in creating an intentional failure, and in the process exposed themselves to the threat of death.
  2. Outside agents using some advanced mind-rays might have caused the accident.

Neither explanation is plausible. It was an accident.

Bear in mind that the rig owner is looking at $600 miilion replacement cost for this vessel. They have been receiving $500,000 for the use of the rig.

The company that contracted for the rig probably had a $100 million investment in this property, leading to a successful exploratory well.

In all likelihood, their exposure to recover from this accident (securing the well, a possible relief well, rig salvage & cleanup, damage claims from injured parties) and they’re looking at hundreds of millions more.

I didn’t know any of the men on the rig personally, but in this small community (meaning the oil and gas business), just about everyone is a friend of a friend. These are salt-of-the-earth folks, with families, mortgages and concerns just like all of us. But these deepwater rigs are world-class operations.  They don’t hire slouches. This crew was the best of the best.

Look, Obama intends to kill off the oil business, but not the way you imagine. He intends to do it perfectly legally, with politicians, lawyers and accountants. And unless we gird up our loins, brethren, he’ll do it.