Thursday, January 26, 2012

Disgraced Cruise Ship Captain Schettino to Lead New 'Alternative Oil Exploration' Initiative

NEW ORLEANS, La. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Despite President Obama's vow to continue bolstering conventional energy production, which he reiterated during Tuesday's State of the Union address, oil industry executives chastised the plan as not being aggressive enough. Obama pledged to open more than 75 percent of the country's potential offshore oil and gas resources. He also encouraged the extraction of natural gas from shale deposits using a controversial process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Environmentalists criticized the president for caving to conservatives who, they claim, are willing to destroy the planet's resources in the name of profit and corporate greed. However, sources close to the White House say the administration may be ready to execute a deal with the Italian government and Carnival Cruise Lines, which could spark even more dissent among liberals and Democrats.

During the annual meeting of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, industry officials said the government must also consider shale oil production, offshore drilling across a broader geographic range, and approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring oil from Canada to Texas. The Obama administration recently struck down support for the pipeline. But after closed door meetings with members of the Energy Commission and CEOs from major oil producers, insiders hint that Obama may be ready to ink a deal that runs the risk of being "greatly misunderstood."

Working with Italian officials and representatives from Contra Crociere, a unit of Carnival Inc., the administration is poised to begin an oil exploration initiative that will "not require drilling, will produce tons of petroleum from an ally, and could actually save an ecosystem in peril."

Francesco Schettino -- the bumbling captain of the ill-fated Contra Concordia liner, which ran aground and capsized near the island of Giglio on January 13 -- has allegedly been hired to work with a coalition of American and Italian salvage crews to pump out 2,300 tons of fuel from the ship.

"Not only will this provide the United States with new sources of oil, as lax regulations in the shipping industry have made disasters at sea commonplace, it will also save the pristine waters in that region," an administration spokesperson said on condition of anonymity. "Imagine if we had had these policies in place during the time of the Valdez disaster. We would probably have weaned ourselves off of Middle Eastern oil reserves by now."

Schettino will also lead an ongoing "alternative oil exploration" initiative beginning next month. The undertaking will be overseen by Exxon, which defended Schettino as "just the type of oil tanker captain we look for." Experts have not divulged details on how the process will work, but they said Schettino's commission will be reinstated, that his duties will not vary much in scope, and that "by simply doing his job, he's likely to help us find a lot more oil in these newly discovered, fuel-rich sources."

(c) 2012. See disclaimers.

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