Over the weekend, the Rio de Janeiro newspaper O Globo published this story about the United Nations looking to grab (the verb that the newspaper used translates "to bite") up to 7% of profits of the emerging gigantic offshore oil fields off southeastern Brazil.
On the surface, this story is somewhere in significance between President Obama's eagerness to support Brazilian energy independence (at the expense of our own) and the onerous treaties the United Nations would like to foist on America...the United Nations claim to the sub-equatorial oil is from the Montego Bay treaty of years back. Brazil's "Pre-salt" oil fields contain potentially 60-80 billion barrels of oil and 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which could translate into hundreds of billions for the U.N. Leaving aside the potential payoffs to the President's friends at Turtle Bay, this brings up a different question.
Consider the oil and oil transmission lines that the United States is being blocked from constructing, courtesy of the Obama Administration, in places like the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, Alberta (via the Keystone Pipeline), and the Colorado, Utah and Wyoming oil shale beds. Odds are high that with our expertise the hydrocarbons could be extracted from most of those places without anyone ever seeing or knowing that it's happening apart from those whose business is doing so.
The "Pre-salt" areas of Brazil, by contrast, are in basins 20,000 feet below the Atlantic Ocean surface, a few hundred miles off Brazil's coast. Again, most residents there might not be aware of any drilling activity until there's a problem. The two largest metropolitan areas on the Gulf of Mexico (Houston, metro population 6 million and Tampa/St.Petersburg, 2.8 million) never really saw effects from the Deepwater Horizon incident. By contrast, the pre-salt area lies off the coast between São Paulo (nearly 20 million) and Rio de Janeiro (11.5 million). Think of New York City being a couple hundred miles down the coast from Los Angeles, with a gigantic fleet of deep water oil rigs not far off the waters between them. The Brazilians are experts at offshore drilling having 50 years of experience in it, but accidents have happened. Several oil spills have occurred in areas there such as the Bay of Guanabara right next to Rio. If a significant accident ever occurs, untold numbers of residents in Brazil's two largest metropolitan areas could be affected.
One would think that the U.N., and President Obama, would want to do everything possible to protect 30+ million human beings and untold amounts of marine wildlife from the potential, possibly incalculable disaster of a ruptured sub-Salt oil platform. But apparently, petroleum-induced danger doesn't mean that much when there are piles of money to be had.
Kurt Wayne is a husband and Dad who lives in Bella Vista, Arkansas. A web developer, he also directs three web-based ministries which serve Brazil.