Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Louisiana oil bidness

With petroleum dominating much of the news currently, what better time to post the oil bidness pictures I took while in Louisiana. Aside from Cajun food, a university and local color, oil is what Lafayette is all about. We waited more than once at railroad crossings for tanker car after tanker car. And, on the highways (below), tanker trucks were everywhere.

When I asked the Sson about local industry, he noted that there were many specialty machine shops serving the exploration, drilling and pumping business. Very likely that well wrapped package on the truck below has something to do with oil.

More gear -- including pipes for moving the crude.

And there were storage tanks everywhere!

Trucks lined up to either fill the big tanks or to take the petroleum elsewhere. I have no idea which way the arrow points.

I caught sight of a couple of walking beam well pumps, though I was unable to get a picture. Mostly, they were hidden behind trees or way out in the bayous. (Not at all like those bizarre pumps that looked like insects which were all over the Long Beach that I recall from my childhood!) The picture above may be of a well -- or possibly a pumping station on a pipeline. I'm expecting my Aussie bro, who was once in the oil bidness in Louisiana to come down pretty heavily on my picture IDs, BTW.

Something related to oil is going on in the swamp behind those grasses (above). Other workings in the salt marshes (below).

A pipeline emerges here -- is there a name for such a location? Note fire plug!
These storage tanks were located in the Atchafalaya Basin bayous at the end of a pipeline. This immense wetland is where Robert Flaherty shot his prize-winning documentary, Louisiana Story, which contrasted the simple life of a Cajun boy with the coming of the oil wells.

Crude is transferred from the tanks to trucks at this point.

Of course, Louisiana oil is found not just in the countryside and in the bayous, but also in the Gulf of Mexico. Cameron is one of the little Gulf towns whose reason for being is the oil bidness. According to Investors Business Daily, there are 3,200 oil rigs off the coast of Louisiana. During Katrina, not a single drop was spilled. More than 7 billion barrels have been pumped from these wells over the past quarter-century, yet only one thousandth of one percent has been spilled.

Here are two pictures of Gulf oil platforms. They were barely visible to the naked eye; it took all my telephoto zoom to get these faint images -- they certainly didn't spoil the view of this tourist! And, as Investors Business Daily notes, a study by Louisiana's Sea Grant college shows that there's 50 times more marine life around oil platforms that act as artificial reefs than in the surrounding mud bottoms. Some 85% of Louisiana fishing trips involve fishing around these offshore rigs. The Flower Garden coral reefs lie off the Louisiana-Texas border. They are surrounded by oil platforms that have been pumping for 50 years. According to federal biologist G.P. Schmahl, "The Flower Gardens are much healthier, more pristine than anything in the Florida Keys. It was a surprise to me. And I think it's a surprise to most people."

We came across this wreckage on the beach; it had been one of escape pods kept at the platforms for emergency get-aways. One more note about offshore drilling -- apparently a Chinese company is drilling 60 miles off the coast of Florida in Cuban waters, tho Florida waters are closed to exploration.

And here's yet another side of the oil bidness, to make your day -- there will always be a lawyer!


Anonymous said...

Neat post. Big money in oil, or I should say we pay big money for the end product. Enjoyed the photos.

Tony Reynolds said...

Back in the day, I worked for Belridge Oil in Kern County, CA. Frankly the one thisg that vividly stands out in memory was the smell of oil in the air. Same in Louisiana?

Granny J said...

steve -- I'd rather pay $$ to oil companies than to support societies where women aren't even allowed to drive cars.

tony -- it's funny -- I really don't recall that oil stench down in bayou Louisiana, tho it might be that my nose is not what it used to be. Yes, I do recall that smell from earlier in my life.

Anonymous said...

Like Florida, Left Coast shores are off limits, too.

As gas climbed toward $5/gal. here recently, there was some serious talk in Sacramento about making some changes. (Yea, right.)

Amen to your comment about that certain country and its women & cars.

~Anon in AV.

Granny J said...

anon av -- I get rather tired of denizens of the Left Coast who want to protect their environment at the expense of everybody else and every other place, such as Arizona. What I hope my pictures conveyed is just how difficult it is to even see those Gulf oil rigs from the shore.

Antipodean Curmudgeon said...

I thought that the pronunciation was binuss, accent on the last syllable.

No stuff-ups noted in your descriptions. The bolted together tanks in the latter part of the post looked to be vintage.

The rigs offshore were on jack-ups, which are mobile, platforms are fixed.

I always had a snotty nose when in coonass country, consequently, didnt smell much of anything.


Anonymous said...

Boy, do I agree with you!

~Anon in AV

k said...

My goodness. What a post.

You're taking me back to all sorts of places, here, once again.

The stink of oil in the air as a child in CA, watching those weird insect/dinosaur looking things rocking endlessly up and down. The stink of oil in the air outside Shreveport - my last official posting for the dead bank workouts.

And all the oil-related calamity loans...I even had a pipeyard for collateral. The buggers kept selling stuff off, right out from under us; and who had the time to go check on what their blasted pipe and misc. inventory was? argh!

I miss the place like you would not believe.

k said...

I sneaked into a Shell Oil refinery one day, taking pix. I can't remember how I got in; someone had left a back door open somewhere. And there I was in my little Honda or such, cruising around the crackers, snapping away with my Nikon FM2.

I was, eventually, discovered. They were Not Happy with me. Not At All.

Much eyelash-batting got me safely escorted out the real gate, with a heavily armed guard all around me.

Good times, good times...

Granny J said...

bro -- as I understand it, bidness is the Texian pronunciation.

anon av -- glad someone in Calif. agrees!

k -- great to have you with us again! My LH once caused a great ruckus at the big Dupont refinery in Delaware for taking pictures while he was on assignment repairing the master automated control system. They demanded the film; his bosses demanded that he obey.

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