Just one accident

Even though I live a long way from the Gulf of Mexico, I’m spellbound by the oil-industry disaster that continues to unfold.

One reason is that the Gulf oil patch is a major editorial focus of WorkBoat magazine, which got its start in Louisiana during World War II covering the inland waterways industry. And when the world’s first offshore oil rig was erected in 1947 off the coast of Louisiana, creating work for commercial fishermen and other local mariners and their boats, WorkBoat was there to cover it.

When the Gulf’s oil industry hits high gear, there’s more work OSVs, crewboats and other workboats. More income for them usually translates into more pages for WorkBoat and more foot traffic at the International WorkBoat Show held every year in New Orleans.

So when the oil hits the marshes of Louisiana, it feels close to home.

Now, thanks to the collective screw-up of BP, Transocean, Halliburton, and, yes, the MMS, everybody in the offshore service business will share the pain as offshore expansion understandably curtailed in the Gulf and the door gets nailed shut on the West Coast.

“But this is just one accident,” some have said. “What about all the other Gulf wells that have a clean record?”

The Exxon Valdez grounding was just one accident, too.

One big one, whatever it is, is all it takes to scramble the system, sometimes forever.

About the author

Bruce Buls

With a degree in English literature from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), journalism experience at the once-upon-a-time Seattle P-I, and at-sea experience as a commercial fisherman in Washington and Alaska, Bruce Buls has forged a career in commercial marine trade journalism, including stints at Alaska Fishermen’s Journal and National Fisherman, WorkBoat’s sister publications. Bruce spent 16 years as WorkBoat's technical editor before retiring in May 2015. He lives on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, about 20 miles north of Seattle (go 'Hawks!).

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