C Marshall Fabrication Machinery, Inc.

Fixing the oil industry, one beer at a time

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The importance of the pipeline in industry, agriculture and nearly every vital facet of civilization cannot be under-emphasized. Without pipeline construction, we would lack plumbing and electricity, not to mention access to gas & petroleum reserves. But perhaps the pinnacle of modern civilized uses for pipelines can be found in a German town by the name of Gelsenkirchen. The pride and joy of this fair city is a football (European for soccer) stadium known as the Veltins Arena, the self-described “cult temple” of the German football league team FC Schalke 04.

The Veltins Arena is considered to be the finest football stadium in Europe, in a town where football is publicly acknowledged to be nearly on a par with religion. In spite of the fact that its construction is an ultra-modern miracle of architecture, the Veltins Arena is most well-known for its pipeline. Why? Because, unlike most pipelines, this one transports beer.

A massive undertaking of over 5 km in length, the Veltins Arena beer pipeline was constructed to ensure that its fan base would never “run dry”. All 100 bars and restaurants in the Veltins Arena are connected by this beer pipeline to a central tank, which ensures that large differences between between demands during various stages of a match are more easily overcome. This feature of the arena is so important that the German brewery which supplies the beer also obtained the stadium’s naming rights. The brewery’s name? You guessed it: Veltins.

At the end of a football match in the stadium, two key statistics pop up on the arena’s scoreboard: the number of people in attendance, followed by the number of liters of beer consumed. This so impressed a Russian politician by the name of Alexander Vakhmistrov that he decided the city of St. Petersburg absolutely HAD to have a beer pipeline in their stadium as well. The only hitch in his plan was the law in Russia that forbids the sale of alcoholic beverages at sporting events.

I am bringing this up because beer pipelines might be the answer to a serious problem facing the oil industry right now. Reports of major oil pipeline gluts are rampant. There are more pipelines than there is oil to fill them, and many are operating well below capacity. Add to that of course the general public’s love-hate relationship with the oil industry, the recent oil rig disaster in the Gulf, and you have a financial and PR situation of considerable magnitude.

So here’s my foolproof, 3-day PR strategy and financial recovery plan for the oil industry: start using your untapped oil pipelines for the transport of beer into households, immediately. This would not only make people love you but you’d finally have a revolutionary new income-producing opportunity in keeping with the times that would allow you, and your stockholders, to make a full financial recovery. After all, it’s getting to a point where no one can afford gas anymore anyways, which may soon lead to a total change in lifestyle, characterized mainly by people staying at home more. And what at-home activity isn’t made just a little more pleasant when it’s accompanied by a few glasses of beer? I can’t think of a better way to re-instill consumer confidence in the oil industry, literally overnight.

There have been a few recent examples of beer or wine “flowing like water” directly into private residences. In 2006, a Norwegian woman turned on her faucet, only to find that instead of water, beer was flowing out of it. This turned out to be the fault of the bar on the lower floor of her apartment building, which had literally gotten the plumbing lines of their beer delivery system crossed.

Then, in October 2008, residents of Marino, Italy were only too tickled to find out that they had apparently turned water into wine – on the same day as their annual Grape Festival, no less. 10 to 12 households found that when they turned on their faucets, wine poured out – if only for 3 minutes or so. Although they initially assumed it to be a gift from the City Council, it turned out this was due to a mistake in plumbing once again. Apparently, every year during the Grape Festival, the water supplies to the main fountains in the town center are turned off and wine is channeled into them instead. Only in this case, the wine was mistakenly channeled into a few private nearby homes.

Both of the above were clearly mistakes, but look how happy it made people.

I can imagine a day in the not-too-distant future, where I go to my local BP station and purchase several gallons of – beer. Think about it: I can buy a pint of beer for as much as what gas stations charge for a gallon – and buying a pint of beer makes me a lot happier than buying a gallon of gas. It also makes good economic sense for the oil giants to simply replace gasoline with beer. Not only would they be able to charge for a pint what they’re currently charging for a gallon, but they would finally win back the hearts of the people. “Fill ‘er up” might take on a completely different meaning one day.

If any of you pipeline manufacturers decide to take me up on this idea, all I ask is that you furnish my personal residence with a tap.

-Anja Wulf

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C Marshall Fabrication Machinery, Inc.