Fracking for Treasure in Trinidad and Tobago

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“Chevron oil rig on fire in Niger Delta,” “BP’s Deepwater Horizon sinks in Gulf of Mexico,” “Shell confirms oil leak in North Sea,”“Massive fish kill in Trinidad and Tobago.” The headlines have become as familiar as announcements of freeway pile ups and severe thunderstorms.

From Nigeria to the North Sea, from the icy chill of Alaska’s Beaufort Sea to the azure bathwater of the Southern Caribbean the scripts are eerily similar.  They tell stories of thousands of oil or gas rigs, tens, hundreds of thousand of abandoned wells and the extraction of fossil fuels from the earth. Tales of pirates hunting treasure, not cargoes of gold on sunken galleons but poisonous black sludge buried millions of years ago under thousands of feet of rock, under miles of ocean.

The stories begin in sweat and toil, hard labor and mind numbing tedium, stories of men drilling holes in the Earth. Then the special effects begin and the drama unfolds.

There are no award ceremonies for the players in these stories, no red carpets or paparazzi, no glittering celebrities and musical revues, just explosion and fire, sickness and death, wholesale slaughter of wildlife, untold human pain and suffering, horrible contamination and more festering wounds to the Earth.

No matter what continent, land or sea the stories involve the same crimes committed by the same culprits and their rap sheets grow longer year by year.

For the pirates who dig up this treasure the profits are enormous, for the people and other creatures who depend on the the sea, the land, the air, the water the stakes are equally enormous but loss is all they are offered. Loss of livelihood, loss of income, loss of health, loss of life, beauty and joy.

The fishermen of Trinidad and Tobago share the problems of the people of our Gulf coast, they have been fouled with the same crude oil, poisoned with the same methane and misused by the same cast of characters. They’ve watched the fish wash ashore by the thousands and lie lifeless, one dead eye turned sightlessly to the sun, rotting and stinking on the beach where even the gulls won’t eat them. Between the blasting for gas and leaking oil rigs and encroachment by commercial trawlers, catches are down as much as seventy five percent.

“Before we could feed the family, buy something for the home, fix the house.”
“Twenty two years I worked outside as a fisherman, in those years they didn’t have oil in the water…”
“The fish not stayin’, they’re movin’, that is a killer to the sea.”

As the fishermen watch their lines come up empty they can smell the chemical foulness in the air, and feel the despair grow in their hearts.

The pirates are fracking in these waters, forcing natural gas from wells beneath the water, deep in the bedrock, using hydraulic pressure to fracture rock formations and drive the gas to the wellhead. The wells leak, methane, benzine, they leak a toxic carcinogenic soup that poisons the fish and they die. The pirates will deny this, that’s what pirates do, rape, plunder, run away, deny everything and strike again elsewhere.

There are I’m told, as many as thirty million abandoned oil and gas wells around the world, on land and sea. Many of them are spewing oil or methane or both. How many and which ones are leaking no one knows. Having extracted their profits the culprits, the pirates, don’t care, they’ve moved on to drill elsewhere.

I am also told that there remain more than twenty trillion dollars ($20,000,000,000,000) worth of oil and gas still buried, still unclaimed in the Earth. The piracy will continue until the last fish has died and the last fisherman has folded his nets and tossed them aside in despair.

Every day we dump billions of gallons of poison into our waters and atmosphere. We then breathe the air, a pint per breath, drink the water and consume the produce and livestock raised on the same poisons. We will continue this until we cleanse the earth of our presence.

The Earth will then cleanse itself of our memory.

Bob Higgins

About the author


Marine Vietnam vet. Have worked as a photographer, cab driver, bartender, carpenter, cabinetmaker, writer and editor.

Now retired on a Veterans Disability program I spend my time writing, and complaining about politics and the environment.

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