CRUDE 6 - The Devil in the Deep Blue Sea
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Check out those titles at your favorite audiobook, provider or head over to penguin Random House dot CA slash indigenous voices. It's Valentine's Day, nineteen eighty to the ocean ranger an offshore oil rig off the coast of Newfoundland is riding out a storm. The weather off Newfoundland was bad. The see was what the weatherman, call state, eight waves were fifty feet high, the wind blowing seventy nine at eleven thirty pm, the weather observer on the ocean ranger filed a routine report saying that the storm was extremely heavy. But everything on the rig was normal, it wa- severe storm about not, which I call it an exceptional stole. The storm was pushing waves to a maximum of seventy feet and winds to about seventy knots. The ocean ranger had withstood worse. Waves are slamming into the portholes on the ocean ranger. There's just a few inches of glass between the Atlantic Ocean and the rigs balanced control room. That's the room responsible for keeping the rig stable, a wave strikes. The porthole and it shatters. The ocean pours in. We have water and glass down here. Two minutes later. All of the valves here on portside are opening by themselves. We need EL electricity down here. Shock on the panel. Something happened in that room, the control panel, malfunction or the crew tried to manually keep the rig stable made a mistake. Then it happened someone tried to operate the balanced control, panel four were tanks flooded and the rig began sliding into a list. The ocean ranger is listing and it's difficult to imagine what that looks like the largest and most advanced oil rig in the world. Twenty five thousand tons of metal is leaning to one side in the middle of a storm three hundred kilometers away from the nearest shoreline. We have the art deco ocean ranger. Experiencing severe list of about ten to fifteen degrees in the middle of severe storm at the time request assistance eighth up the ocean. Ranger is in trouble. Schrader Jackie there. Could you give it to anything? We're listening badly and to get to be. At one o'clock, a radio operator had received the message that the personnel on the ranger where off to the light bolts was the last message. We'd heard from the ranger. Good evening. The biggest oil Regan the world, the rain calls ocean. Ranger is lying at the bottom of the sea, it collapsed, and sank off the coast of Newfoundland in fierce Atlanta. Gale three lifeboats went to the water. It was cold enough that the ocean, spray froze instantly massive waves bore down on the vessels, helicopters. Couldn't get close enough, but it's supply ship called the C fourth Highlander got near enough to a lifeboat that they could see survivors. From the sheep wool of highlanders, saying that he had found a lifeboat and it did have survivors in it, and they was alive, and then he was trying to get along side. Guys screaming for help things pretty refunds of it was extremely similar. So he had to snow. Freezing spray water coming over the deck. I guess we can be looking at viewers among them, too. By the time we got the Highlander their life, quotas and upset. The men gone in the water and one way or right there. They were just there was just born in the water, there wasn't. There wasn't survivors and there was only one. That time is normally never saw demonstrate bought his before all at once. Just look and try to figure out what's going on hope something be held to get what to a minute alive. But. Nobody got anybody. It's very, very sad duty to tell you fishery the ocean. Ranger is lost where eighty four people aboard. And at this point in time, we certainly cannot hold up, much show survive. It wasn't supposed to be like this Newfoundland and labrador has always been one of Canada's poorest provinces. So when they discovered a massive oil reserve just off the coast politicians were determined not to blow it, it was only three years later that the ocean ranger sank to the bottom of the Atlantic taking eighty four men down with it. But this isn't just a story about a nautical disaster. It's a story about what happens when a poor province finds commence riches just off its coast and how that promise of oil wealth can twist history around itself. It's about a place that swore up and down it wouldn't fall into the room and bust cycle. Every time I say anything about I always say that it's on top foundation built on resources and then promptly did just that come down for province that was a washing off shore revenue for several years now. Even worse off than it was after the cod moratorium two decades ago. And it's about the kind of magical thinking that takes hold when political leader start to believe that oil will be the solution to all of their problems. I'm Arshi man and from Canada land. This is comments. This upset of Commons. Brought to impart by fresh books. I books is the cloud accounting service that will save you time save you money. Get you paid faster and so much more track your expenses. Get those tax breaks from the government creek custom professional invoices in literal seconds. There's just a lot of great things with fresh books. It's a really great service, that's gonna make your life easier. Especially if you're a freelancer fresh books is also now offering double entry accounting reports so working with your account at tax time is a breeze. If you haven't tried it yet. Why not just give it a go to get a thirty day free trial? Head over to fresh books dot com slash Commons. And enter Commons in the how did you hear about us action? This episode of calms brought to part by penguin Random House. Canada, June is national in digits history month and Peyman random as Canada's celebrating the staining achievements of first nation into it may t- writers by highlighting the truly incredible array of. Audiobooks available by indigenous authors. There's so many great audiobooks you can check out here, including a mind spread on the ground by leash. Elliott Starlight by Richard Ouaga me's and split tooth by tiny to gawk. I'm really excited to listen to Leach Elliott's book because a bit a big fan of her writing for a while and split to is especially going to be a great one to pick up an audiobook, because Tanya to gawk punctuates the chapters with actual throat singing, all of these great titles are now available audiobooks from penguin Random House, Canada, wherever audio books are sold. Visit penguin Random House dot CA slash indigenous voices to enter to win a collection of audiobooks. And to learn more. The story of oil in Newfoundland began in nineteen seventy nine when oil was discovered offshore. There are rumors of a major oil find on the Grand Banks and land for half the largest oil discovery ever in Canada news conferences are being shuttled and oil markets across the country are booming. But for Susan Dodd, it's a story that begins with a phone call on that tragic day in February of nineteen eighty two. The first part is remembering the phone ringing at, you know, what would have been the middle of the night to o'clock in the morning, but I learned that later, I was in bed and heard them big old farmhouse, and with no heat. My parents were horribly cheap about heating the host and the so here running down the, the hall dance phone and then you know, just the tones voices. You know something's bad. I five figured it was my grandmother, who had been on. Well. And then I didn't I wasn't to call to go to school in the morning. Her brother, Jim was a rig worker and even out on the ocean ranger that day. I remember that looking out the window, and mom saying, well, you might as well tell her and. So then we went into waiting moat, which was what did that say something like the rigs in for you? Gyms rigs in trouble, and we're waiting for news. It wasn't long before Susan realized she would never see her brother again. They were still doing a search. But my dad had flown with the he was a navigator in the air force. So I think he he knew what the chances of anyone surviving that would have been I think he knew early on. Jim was like a lot of the men on the ocean ranger that day he was young, and he came from a place with high unemployment, and he was willing to do dangerous work out on the open ocean for these, especially these young men, they needed to have jobs in a way in order to be considered human almost. So they would take any job that was available and they. Would put up with conditions that I think any reasonable person would be able to see where dangerous though, Jim was Nova Scotian the vast majority of the men on the ocean ranger were Newfoundlanders. My name is Daniel Bryan. Was born at Sinclair's hospital, Saint John's new flam school up there, too Sonny outside of the west, Saint John's, Danny worked the diver while going up. Newfoundland, of course, surrounded by water from Saint John's spent a lot of time out in boats when I was a kid stuff fishing, the one thing, I always, farmers produced intrigue me from an early age was scuba diving after going abroad to work on other oil rigs Dany fan himself working on what was the largest, most state of the art oil rig in the world, the ocean ranger. But the rig had a reputation before it sank workers, jokingly called it, the ocean danger safety, gene was terrible. It was visible not peoper on happy, the Americans who ran the rig looked down upon Newfoundlanders. So these people were sort of like a very Whitney. Attitude approach to things. Danny seen things go bad on the ranger before in October of nineteen eighty one I went to vote it was urgency was a complete calamity to cover. Chore workers, weren't properly trained for evacuations the Riggott self had design flaws, and there weren't, even enough lifeboats Danny knew that if something went wrong, a lot of men could die even after a botched evacuation just a week before the disaster, the American managers, maintain that the ocean ranger was safe. Here's Chris CUNY who worked on the rig speaking to a documentary crew. It is hard nosed tool pusher. Was trying to dominate the safety meeting. You know by saying this recant sink he didn't say he more yell at can't. Thank. You know this is a. Big semi SABA, semi saw Mercer bull in the world, and there's laughs and guffaws, mostly from fishermen, who had been on water away, longer than this guy had after the ocean ranger sank Newfoundland went into mourning the bodies of many of the men were never recovered from the Atlantic Ocean, and two divers were also killed trying to move the wreck Newfoundlanders demanded answers in the provincial and federal governments held a joint inquiry shortly after people watched it on TV was, it was a it was a big deal. And it was a very public way of airing the responsibility. And. Showing the kind of public prosecution system, at least interrogating, the people who are responsible for this. Right. They at least had to show up and face the community. The reasons for the disaster will be familiar to Commons listeners, lack of regulation, a cost cutting culture that emphasized profits over safety inadequate training. So you've got all these untrained people being put on what is both of us all, and a drill rig where the side, the marine side was completely ignored by the people around that, right? The lifeboats didn't work and the guys weren't trained to use them. The men who were responsible for ballast control for keeping the, the rig fable retrained, quote unquote on the job, which effectively meant they weren't trained. It was a shit show. Susan says that it's the Newfoundland and Canadian governments who share the most blame the ocean had just swallowed. Eighty four men and the huge majority of those being Newfoundlanders and. They. Responsible for because there was no regulation in place specific to offshore work. It only been three years since oil had been discovered offshore, and you could imagine that disaster of the scale of the ocean ranger might threaten to kill the industry outright, but oil companies politicians, insisted the drilling continue. And that's because compared to the rest of Canada, Newfoundland and labrador has always been relatively poor but could change that all oil has always been seen, as if not the economic salvation of the province, then certainly one of the most important factors in its economic celebration. My name's Shawn category. I'm a professor of history memorial university in the beginning Newfoundlanders were split about oil. Here's JD house, associated speaking in a documentary from the nineteen eighties. The initial reaction ninety seventy nine it was was kind of two sides. One was great. You've. For new found some people going out and mortgaging their homes or to buy shares in Gulf mobile zone. On the one hand on the other hand, though, there was a reaction kind of a fair within the society of what's his big, boom, that's coming going to be doing this, the government pushed ahead. But when the ocean ranger, sank Newfoundland's, new oil industry had a crisis of legitimacy when the rig went down there was a challenge. You know, the work that they done was seriously, seriously frightened. And so they had to rebuild this promise of will off shore, oil development as a kind of positive change in the mine culture. That's when the narrative began to shift very quickly. It's a local sentiment developed the Newfoundland and labrador that that was that, when something like this. It was, of course tragedy, the people who are lost on the ocean ranger were considered almost martyrs. Martyrs. No longer were they victims of corporate greed or negligence. They were martyrs. The eighty four men who went down on that rig were seen as having sacrificed, their lives for Newfoundland's economic future. And their sacrifice had to be honored. Local sentiment was that, however, we might feel about the need for safety off shore. We couldn't do anything that would jeopardize development by the private sector. This kind of narrative was pushed, especially by the oil companies, and the government onto a province that was still traumatized by the disaster. But at the same time, the ocean ranger story, merged with the long history of naval disasters that have befallen Newfoundlanders, giving it the timber of inevitability. We are speaking to a community that is steeped in all of these songs, and these stories of a kind of heroic loss, and the open fees. And that narrative kicked in eve at the same time as everyone knew that the guys who ran that rig really quite expressly hated, Newfoundlanders, even today, there are serious questions about the safety of these rigs. Daniel Bryan doesn't believe that the issue of lifeboats has been adequately addressed. It is, as I said, depending on the civility, if there's another accident people have to evacuate lifeboats give much chance of them operating properly because of the story failure these boats in two thousand nine a helicopter on route to a rig crash into the water killing fifteen the premier at the time promised to safety review, but it never happened. The number of people that have been killed about one hundred fourteen officered flan is very high price for the amount of activity. That's gone on a glare last year, the north west Atlantic was hit by one of the strongest storms that seen in thirty years. The Hibernia oil platform withstood, the winds and waves, but lifeboats were damaged and the rig never stopped production. But all of these safety problems aren't even the worst part, Newfoundland most far reaching oil disaster with something else entirely. This upset of Commons. Brought to impart by hellofresh everyone's favourite meal. Kit service hellofresh delivers step by step recipes and premeasured ingredients to make cooking, easy, and fun now, if you'd already order to hellofresh box. Here's some of what you'd be eating this week pan. Seared state goes, you peaking pork with garlic sesame broccoli, and jasmine rice, or for the herbivores some veggie chillier, an open faced mushroom melt all of it is simple to make all of it is, delicious into get some of the simple deliciousness right to your door. Just go to hellofresh dot CA slash Commons. Fifty and type in the promo code, Commons fifty that'll get you fifty percent off your first box. That's fifty percent off your first box of hellofresh. If you go to hellofresh dot CA slash Commons. Five zero and enter the promo code comments by zero. Eight years after the ocean ranger sank the oil executives were popping champagne wanting to. Wanting to. The celebrations were in high gear today in Saint John's, a multi billion dollar Hibernia oil project off. Newfoundland is set to go, the oil giant's the governments and the contractors of all signed an agreement after spending more than a decade at the drawing board. It was the same field where the eighty four main of the ocean ranger had died. Politicians in Newfoundland were determined to use this new resource in the wisest way into avoid the boom and bust cycles associated with oil. Here's a clip from that nineteen eighty documentary that looked into the issue are we doomed to keep spinning around in the boom bust cycle until our resources finally give out if we just look at our history, you'd think that we are. But there is one place in Canada, where some people are determined to challenge that history and try to take control of the tornado into their own hands. There's probably no region of this country. More in need of the economic boost that an oil boom could bring the Newfoundland. Labrador paradoxically. There is no region, the country that is showing more reluctance to plunge in, but despite their best efforts to avoid these booms and busts Newfoundland walked right into the same trap part of the reason, why was because of what happened. Just two years later. Good evening. The news was expected. But that didn't make it any less devastating for at least the next two years, much of Newfoundland, bland will lose a way of life. It's a moratorium on fishing for northern cod, Aban that will affect about twenty thousand people, and gut the backbone of the Atlantic, fishery, it's still the biggest layoff in Canadian history, what we started to see from nineteen ninety two forward was the permanent emigration of working age people to other parts of Canada. Many of those young people went to Berta and sketch who onto work the oilfields Newfoundland was now, doubly dependent on crude and just as the story of the ocean ranger change the narrative around Newfoundland's potential oil wealth, also shifted. Unemployment in public debt began to skyrocket oil came to be seen as the singular solution to the province's economic woes. We kind of Sumed here publicly, I think that, well, you know, we don't really have to worry about this so much because we got this massive offshore oil sector that's going to generate all the money that's going to allow us to take care of these things in the oil companies were able to convince politicians that they shouldn't keep royalties. High oil, instead, they should focus on the indirect benefits, such as jobs and consumer spending in for awhile that seemed to work out the specially in the two thousands when the oil price went north of one hundred dollars a barrel, all of a sudden, Newfoundland, and labrador was booming. Danny Williams was premier until twenty ten began to increasingly put all of his exit the oil basket Williams will become incensed, if people questioned the sustainability. Of oil as an economic driver here he is. Arguing with a radio host near the end of his tenure it all of your gone to be nothing left. What about our children? Our grandchildren will guarantee that you can surf the attest to that. You can let you when I can have a conversation. Twenty to twenty five years from now and you'll see what's left for children, and our grandchildren, and as well by, then we will have wind on. We have gas on, we'll have the church Alon. We would have repatriated the upper Churchill lot of wonderful things happening fanatic, labrador, medial need that kind of pessimism and craft coming out of your mouth in the morning 'cause I can tell you right now. Landon, labrador did what many considered unthinkable it became a half province? For the first time it was sending out equalization payments instead of bringing them in. But that didn't last long Sean Cadigan says that the government didn't have a long-term plant so offshore oil royalties allowed the provincial government to put far more into our health system. Education system. More government, employment, and pains, government employees, better, the problem is, is that all dependent on the availability of austral revenues when officer went when oil was, you know, at one hundred dollars a barrel, or more. And so when prices collapsed, from fourteen on, we were left with a significant economic problem, we went into our bust gone was all veterans talk about saving for the future for carefully using this new oil wealth, much of it had been squandered the rigs. Are still operating off shore. But that widespread prosperity that oil had promised has never really come about. Basically, it seems to me that what offshore oil revenue tends to do is like, it's, it's sort of hold some kind of a promise to you, but it's just that it's just a promise and it's always just beyond your reach you think you can almost get it. But it never quite sort of materializes today, the Newfoundland and labrador economy is still struggling some people feared that the provincial government may actually go bankrupt oil itself wasn't what caused the economic calamity Newfoundland labrador has other deep systemic problems. The cod is never come back. The population's been getting older big mega projects failed, but things were supposed to be different in those early years. The promise of oil had been turned Newfoundland into a new Norway to use those resources wisely to save for future generations, the promise of oil has yet to pay off. And Newfoundlanders are the ones who have paid the cost. The memory of the ocean, ranger lives on Newfoundland and labrador in every year. There's a memorial service held in Gonzaga high school in Saint John's for the men who died on the rig. Ted stapleton. Jamin came Thompson. I knew the first time. Susan Dodd went she was asked to speak. I given the honour thanking the community for this event, as a family member. And I went and just raged against oil companies and against the regulators for failing. I still feel that rage very strongly today, she doesn't think memorial services, the place for that. But in her way Susan's trying to change back the story of the ocean ranger trying to grab hold of that history herself and take it out of the hands of the oil companies, and the politicians a few years ago, she wrote a book about it called the ocean ranger remaking the promise of oil. I think it's important to keep reminding people about it and to keep retelling the story and to keep reminding ourselves that when Mace really terrible things happen and industry if we haven't regulated them. It's you know, it's not the fault of the cause MOS and it's not the fault of capitalism. It's our fault for not regulating. The story that many people tell themselves about the ocean ranger like the story, they tell about oil has changed over the years. But for Susan, it's a story about her brother, Jim young guy who needed a job who she loved for sharing books in music with her, and who died in the Atlantic Ocean with eighty three other men, so many years ago. That's your comments for the week. This episode was built on research and reporting done by CVC Newfoundland and labrador. Susan Dodd Mike Heffernan and many if you wanna get in touch with us, you can tweet us at Canada and Commons that C M s you can also Email me are she Canada dot com? Make sure to check out although next week to hear about what's going on in politics today. This up sodas produced by myself in Jordan corners are managing editors, Kevin Sexton, in her music is by Kevin Sexton, and Nathan Berlin. If you like what we do. Please help us make this show. You can support us and get adv re podcasts by going to patriot dot com slash Hannity.