The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. The rig's crew were new to their positions just before the explosion. Such staffing reorganizations are increasingly common as the industry grapples with a staffing shortage.
Credit Jeff Brady / NPR
George King (left) with student Marvin Harris in a training lab at a Lone Star College campus in The Woodlands, Tex. Harris plans to work in the oil and gas industry upon completing his program.
Two years after the Deepwater Horizon accident killed 11 men and sent oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, the oil industry says it has learned valuable lessons from the disaster that are making drilling safer today.
But there's still a pressing issue looming for the oil industry: Oil field workers are retiring in huge numbers, leaving a workforce that's younger and — more importantly — less experienced.
The rising cost of oil isn't just a hit to the family budget. Businesses are hurt, too. Few are more affected than firms like FedEx. It deploys nearly 700 planes and tens of thousands of trucks and vans every day to deliver packages around the world. And few business leaders are more focused on finding alternatives to petroleum-based fuels than FedEx CEO Fred Smith.
Shortly after Smith founded Federal Express, the 1973 Arab oil embargo almost killed it. The experience imprinted Smith with a keen interest in the price and availability of oil.
Shell Oil plans to explore for petroleum off Alaska's north coast this summer. The native people of Alaska have a big stake in both oil revenue and environmental protection. That conflict has played out in recent trips by Inupiats to Washington, D.C., to argue their case.
JBI CEO John Bordynuik holds a jar of No. 6 fuel oil, derived from discarded plastic like that seen on a conveyor belt at his plant.
Credit Daniel Robison / WNED
After being delivered to JBI's Plastic2Oil facility, shredded plastic is melted down in a large tank before being vaporized and formed into fuel. John Bordynuik releases some of the substance to check for quality.
Only 7 percent of plastic waste in the United States is recycled each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A startup company in Niagara Falls says it can increase that amount and reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil at the same time.
It all starts with a machine known as the Plastic-Eating Monster. Thousands of pounds of shredded milk jugs, water bottles and grocery bags tumble into a large tank, where they're melted together and vaporized. This waste comes from landfills and dumps from all over the United States.
Rising gas prices have been the big energy story of the past several weeks. But many energy experts say that's a sideshow compared with the really big energy event — the huge boom in oil and natural gas production in the U.S. that could help the nation reach the elusive goal of energy independence.
Since the Arab oil embargo of 1973, energy independence has been a Holy Grail for virtually every American president from Richard Nixon to Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama.
A cross with the words "Promises Made"-- referring to statements from BP and government officials — stands in front of a pile of crosses symbolizing things that were impacted by the spill, in a front yard in Grand Isle, La.
The deal was announced late Friday and prompted a federal judge in New Orleans to postpone a Monday trial, but the proposed settlement solves only one piece of BP's legal exposure from the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
President Barack Obama was in New Hampshire today talking about energy. As New Hampshire Public Radio’s Josh Rogers reports, the president said the country needs to increase oil production while also investing in newer sources of energy.
Billed an official visit, at times the President’s stop had the feel of campaign rally. Mr. Obama told the crowd he knew NH’s "political bull detector" was sharp, and urged voters to be wary of election year promises.
The USS Abraham Lincoln sailed from the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday. This photo was taken from the bridge of the aircraft carrier and shows U.S. aircraft parked on its flight deck. In the background, a U.S. destroyer patrols.
Credit Jumana El Heloueh / Reuters/Landov
A helicopter from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln hovers over an Iranian patrol ship during a transit through the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday.
The dispute over Iran's nuclear program has again rocked oil markets. And Iran is threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, which is just 34 miles wide yet serves as the passageway for 20 percent of the world's oil.
This is not a new drama. In fact, it was a recurring issue in the 1980s. Still, there's been relatively little activity among Gulf oil producers to find alternative routes to get their oil to market.
Peter Canning of Berlin figures he'll save enough on heating in three years to recoup the $5,000 his new boiler cost. He's participating in the Model Neighborhood Project.
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR
The OkoFEN boilers are made in Austria but imported and assembled by a company in Bethel, Maine.
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR
Maine Energy Systems imports the OkoFEN boilers and then licenses companies to sell, install and maintain them.
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR
The OkoFEN is about the size of a conventional oil boiler. The storage bin behind the unit - which looks like a huge and fancy laundry basket - holds wood several tons of pellets which are automatically fed into the boiler.
There are big plans for oil exploration in the Caribbean, not far off the coast of Florida. A Spanish company recently began drilling in Cuban waters — just 55 miles from Key West.
The well is the first of several exploratory wells planned in Cuba and the Bahamas. The drilling has officials and researchers in Florida scrambling to make plans for how they'll respond in case of a spill.
Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that gas furnaces cost less to run and burn cleaner than their oil counterparts? If I make the switch, how long should I expect it to take for me to pay back my initial investment? And are there any greener options I should consider? -- Veronica Austin, Boston, MA
The price of home heating oil is expected to hit an all-time high this winter. That’s unwelcome news from Maine to Maryland, where millions of people rely on the fuel to stay warm. The spike could make life difficult for heating oil suppliers and their low-income customers.
When the price of crude oil jumps the price of home heating oil pretty much follows.
In the last 12 months, the price of crude has shot up 40%.
What’s causing the spike?
Aaron Brady, an analyst for IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, says its emerging markets like India and China.