notes from underground


In his introduction to Naked Lunch, William Burroughs explained the title as “a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork”. If you have spent any time looking at the oil business, you will know exactly what he meant. So much in modern life, from plastic cups to Boeing 787s, is made from or with oil that discovering the facts of how it is extracted, processed and distributed is like peeling back the surface of the everyday world to reveal the hidden structure beneath. When BP’s Macondo well ruptured in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, many people were confronted for the first time by some of those realities – including the awe-inspiring difficulties of working in the deep waters where oil companies venture now that the more accessible areas have been sucked dry, and the catastrophic consequences of failure. The video feed from the sea bed a mile down, showing oil and gas pouring unstoppably from the well into the waters of the gulf, brought home to American consumers the ugly side of a business that they had habitually ignored.

more from Ed Crooks at the FT here.