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Alaska Short Stack Stories, Series I, II, & III ~ Alaska's Deadliest Sin-Drill Baby Drill ~ Alaskan Company Man ~ Eklutna Lake Worrier ~ From the Fifth Floor ~ Hannah Cove ~ My Journey to Landes House ~ Poemetrics ~ Quinn the "Tanik" Eskimo ~ S.O.S. from Beaver Lake ~ The Teachings of the Swamp Fox ~ Trans-Alaska-Pipeline Funny Stories ~ Spirit Dog & the Ghost Wind


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Friday, March 24, 2017

The EXXON Valdez Wreck

March 24th, 1989: Some 28 long years ago, before Donald Trump turned into a madman werewolf apprentice apocalypse, we were awakened with horror from a sound sleep to find Alaska's coastline under attack. From the helm of the mighty hi-tech EXXON Valdez super-tanker, Captain Joe Hazelwood's cry for help both sickening and nauseating; "Coast Guard...I'm fetched up hard aground on Bligh Reef and leaking oil"! Yes, EXXON - the mightiest of oil giants - had just haphazardly flushed from the ruptured cargo holds of a pride-and-joy maritime engineering marvel millions of gallons of highly toxic, life threatening gooey crud! A little after midnight, in somewhat calm seas, the EXXON Valdez somehow found its hull wrecked by the concealment of Bligh Reef - an underwater shoal that was so well known as a navigation hazard that even 3rd graders at the local Valdez school knew about it. Bligh Reef, it was a fixation of doom as was the fact tanker captains that rode aboard these giant tankers in and out of the Valdez "Narrows" were lushes. But alcohol was not a factor in this case, not from the initial "blow" tests performed on Hazelwood, results that mysteriously disappeared during the course of the "wreck's" investigation. Just ask the wildlife guy that was first to board the sinking ship! And because of the environmental sensitivity of that area, yes a pristine wonderland chocking with marine life, the checks and balances that came into play with the everyday decision makers that chartered those sea lanes, it didn't allow for such an accident - it was NOT possible no matter how and what table-top think tankers tested and rested their case on the worst of the worst case scenarios. As I have penned many times before, the wreck of the EXXON Valdez was pure sabotage and evidence to support the "Truth" of this matter not lacking credibility. But my case in point or print gets very little traction even though I have the evidence. Why? Because it was planned by a disgruntled oil broker turned an environmentalist for reasons of trickery. Do you really think Tillerson's EXXON could have claimed such an attack on its infrastructure by sabotage instead of an accident? NO, because it would then lose any and all Lloyds insurance coverage and have to cease business operations - due such a vulnerability. Accidents happen, sabotage should not! And without insurance, tankers are grounded. And imagine taking the stand that an "environmentalist" well-known in Alaska, well known in Congress would attempt such an attack? Get over it, it happened and many got away! And this is not a conspiracy theory. First and foremost, yes it was well-known that the tanker captains on the Alaskan scene liked to drink. But due the precision navigational skills required to steer a super-tanker in an out of the "Valdez Narrows", specially trained "Pilots" would take charge of the helm. So once through the treacherous narrows, it was basically clear sailing - autopilot from the Columbia glacier to ports of call south. And like already mentioned, the U.S. Coast Guard maintained vigilance on every tanker in and out of Alaska with a very powerful radar - that was remarkably disabled the night of the wreck - which meant the Admiral was asleep at the wheel.  So on March 24 that year, calm seas, somewhat clear skies with the full moon illuminating stretches of ocean teaming with sea life, no alcohol in Hazelwood's initial testing - what the hell happened? See, Charles Hamel - now deceased - was a disgruntled oil broker that went to bat against EXXON. Not with respect to environmental issues of concern but a ways and means to make a bunch of money on the fast. Said again, Charles Hamel was an "Oil Broker"! He lost, he lost big-time for himself and a handful of wannabe oil broker investors such a gamble trying to tame the Tiger! The Tiger was mean spirited, especially in Alaska. And Hamel's pipedream, it was built on a scam that was being employed and enjoyed by the "Big Oil" players in Alaska - like EXXON, Mobil, ARCO, SOHIO, BP. A "Legal" scam it was as it didn't hurt anybody! It was their business, stay away! See, when oil is produced out of the ground what comes along for the ride is something called BS&W. It means "Basic Sediment & Water". Now before oil is refined, all the nasty stuff is removed - like the BS&W - which costs a little extra money. Now when the Alaska oil infrastructure was approved back in the 70s, "Think Tanking" designed an infrastructure for reasons supporting a single goal - revenue! One of the things missing the scene in Prudhoe Bay - where the oil is extracted and produced - you don't see any storage tanks, for a reason. When oil is placed in a storage tank, the "BS&W" settles out due natural gravitational attraction. Oil is lighter then water, so a tank will have water, oil and a gas interface. Think of it as a sandwich. So from a bean counting aspect, once oil finds a resting tank, it is "marketable" wherein it takes on ownership of a value. And the original concept of "blood out of a turnip" did not want this to ever be compromised, as the designers wanted that settlement to take place only at the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska-Pipeline. Why? With 800-miles between Pipeline Milepost 0 and Bligh Reef, a whole lot of value masked manipulation can take place. Look, natural gas out of the ground is ready to boil water, so it has a price tag when it sees light. With crude oil, there is nothing you can do with it until it is refined - so that aspect alone allows for the price manipulation along the way from the well to the gas station. It is the reason that oil companies in realty despise natural gas - unless it can be liquefied as then it is open for price tag negotiations - manipulating in laymen's terms. So a few years after oil started flowing down the big Alaskan pipeline, the owners realized that "water" could make money. With 2-million barrels each day roaring towards Valdez, an appreciable share of that bounty was "water" not yet subject to separation. See, it was all theirs and nobody gave a rat's ass how they conducted the business, from a monetary standpoint. The state of Alaska was getting rich, the oil companies were getting rich, everyone was happy - except Charles Hamel. So, the cash registers at the front end of the pipeline, the meters used to measure the oil went purposely manipulated to cast doubt on the actual water content and make it appear as more "black gold". In a nutshell, if I had a barrel of water and a barrel of oil so mixed and shoved into that pipeline, I would get a receipt for 2-barrels of something heading south. On record, I own 2 barrels of oil! Now when it landed in Valdez and rested in one of the storage tanks at the humongous tank farm - that which could accommodate upwards 9-million barrels or an equivalent of 378,000,000 gallons - the water was allowed to separate. Now that receipt for 2-barrels from up north? Only worth a single barrel - but the lose from the in-to-out equation allows for a business loss write-off of 1 for 1! For every barrel that was counted, water or crude, it made money and the associated lose was equivalent to the going market rate of "crude oil". Imagine getting a $100-buck write-down for a bucket of water? See, if I can sell that barrel at $100-bucks and at the same time have an equivalent write-off - water made a whole lot of money on the Alaskan oil scene.  Hamel was an oil broker before the calling came for jumping on the environmentalist bandwagon, and when he first appeared on the Alaskan scene he sported a Lee Raymond & Rex Tillerson mentality and studied the Alaskan scene through a microscope and realized the advantage of the "water caper". Through such research, he envisioned buying raw Alaskan oil at the going rate and using the water tipoff write-off as a revenue generating device, using the legal and bonafide lose advantage against other investment opportunities all tied to his oil brokerage. But that is wherein he found resistance to interfere with a good thing enjoyed by the "Big Players" and soon realized he was "skunked"! Hamel made a deal for oil, but soon realized that he wasn't getting raw oil from the Prudhoe Bay fields, but conditioned oil in Valdez - wherein the "water" write-off was already being taken advantage of by - BIG OINK OIL! Hamel was "Busted"! Now when he realized his dream, his venture and investors were to see no returns that vision of wealth, Hamel started aligning himself with individuals that would help him cause trouble against "Big Oil" in Alaska. One of those individuals was a brilliant electronic engineer and an expert radar and navigational "hacker", that maintained remote access to the tankers that came in and out of Valdez. His job was to make sure the navigational stuff on the hi-tech supertankers allowed for seaworthy journeys. Look, the EXXON Valdez wreck was the first successful computer hack that manifested a new-age of sabotage - today called the "cyber-WAR" wherein "hacking" takes on many dimensions. I saw this "attack" first-hand, as I was associated with the attackers - but at the time did not realize that possible "sabotage" was the MO behind this mentality, was somebody that evil? On March 24th, 1989, we found out what such a sabotage meant. The EXXON Valdez wreck was planned as a get-even attack. Such a window of opportunity, well it is not hard to see how well planned it was and today those NOT in the know continue to condemn it as a mere reckless accident by a tanker captain that was, well sober at the time of the jolt! And see, Donald Trump is so much like Charles Hamel, and we may never really know the truth in the matter of what will occur under his watch. Time does indeed heal away the wound, but too often we maintain the vigilance of the status quo of "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH" and those responsible sail into the sunset without remorse! Today, Prince William Sound is still sick, as stubborn crude oil remains and for many it is Joe Hazelwood and EXXON still to blame for such an environmental lingering atrocity. When in reality neither had anything to do with this mess - as the success of such an attack rests its case in a get-even "hack" wherein the camouflage of an environmentalist was the climax of the crime so damn well hidden.

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