Do you remember Hogwarts Express? Yes, I am talking about the famous train in Harry Potter. It was a delightfully steadfast train that transported young witches and wizards from the human world of Muggles to the magical wizarding world of Hogwarts Castle.
Funny that you should ask what Hogwarts Express has to do with oil and gas … stick with me for just a moment.
During one adventure on the aforementioned train, Harry and crew were traveling to school when a deadly silence descended. The train stopped and Harry peered out the window. He noticed ice creeping up the glass as his breath billowed out around his face and darkness oozed over the land.
Riveting stuff… but you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next.
This dark scene from Harry Potter immediately had me thinking about energy transportation safety (as one who works in the oil and gas industry tends to do).
Energy transportation is always a hot topic; but recently, one debate has been heating things up even more. Have you missed it? It has made its way through commercials and talk shows: the debate over the Keystone Pipeline.
Which is better at transporting oil? Which is safer? Pipelines? Or trains?
Peter Goelz of the Huffington Post states that 99.5% of crude oil transported by pipeline and railroads arrives safely at its destination (November 12, 2013).
Sounds like a good number! But, we all know of the terrible loss of life and habitat when things go wrong during transportation. Even though the percentage of loss of energy may appear to be low, the impacts on life and habitat are tremendous.
This issue calls for thinking beyond Harry and trains and pipelines. Managing the energy resources we rely upon not only includes considering the method by which we transport them, but also the tools we use to assess and avoid the risks associated with those methods. So, what’s the best way to get them safely to where they need to go and how can we mitigate risks along the way? What steps should we take to keep people safe and to keep the earth safe?
Harry is fictional, but this debate is real. The oil and gas industry is innovative and is peopled with very smart folks who care deeply for people and deeply for this earth. So, let’s stop reducing it to simplistic terms and give it the full breadth and depth that it deserves.
The earth deserves no less. We deserve no less.