Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Pro's & Con's of Offshore Drilling

In today's San Diego Union Tribune, Mike Lee takes an in-depth look at the Catch-22 that is offsore oil drilling.

The net-net is that, while there is some 18 billion barrels of capacity sitting offshore right now (and many argue that estimate is low because it relies on old data compiled with less sophisticated equipment than we use now)-- enough to supply the country for two and a half years at our current rate of consumption-- the EIA estimates that the new supply wouldn't affect the price of crude until 2030.

According to Lee:

"The impassioned debate masks a little-known reality: About two-thirds of the recoverable oil reserves on the Outer Continental Shelf in the lower 48 states already are accessible for development. "


"Nonetheless, additional offshore drilling could offer some benefits. Those include helping the United States lessen its dependence on foreign oil and reducing long-distance shipments that have led to major oil spills.

It also could limit ecological damage from drilling operations in foreign countries that have fewer environmental controls. "


According to Warner Chabot, Vice President for Campaign Strategies at the Ocean Conservancy in San Francisco, “Access to the Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf (of Mexico) regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude-oil and natural-gas production or prices before 2030,” said an analysis last year by the Energy Information Administration, the official keeper of federal energy statistics.

Even oil industry representatives won't say that drilling would reduce pump prices. They said it takes five to 10 years to produce much oil in new areas.

There's the rub.

Offshore reserves beckoning anew [San Diego Union Tribune]