Innovation: Helping Solve the Energy Crisis

By August 24, 2006Energy, Innovation

Professor Mark J. Perry of the University of Michigan at Flint writes a thorough column in the Detroit News about innovation in exploring for energy supplies in the Outer Continental Shelf.

The article notes that in the 1970s, drilling drilling more than 500 feet below sea level was difficult and expensive. Today, we are able to drill 15,000 feet below the surface — 15 times the size of the Empire State Building!

This is all been possible through innovation. One way has been through four-dimensional seismic imaging of underwater fields.

Another innovation has been horizontal and directional drilling which can reach oil and gas deposits as far as 10 miles away.

Technology has also improved the environmental impact of oil and gas development. The article also points out that between 1980 and 1999, some 7.4 billion barrels of oil were produced in federal offshore waters with less than a thousandth of 1 percent spilled. To give you an idea of how little that is, its less even than the natural seepage of oil from the sea floor.

Additional facts to consider are that the Energy Information Administration projects that by 2025 oil demand will increase by about 40 percent and natural gas by 34 percent and that two out of every three gallons of oil we use in the United States is imported from abroad.

By the way, remember, we are the only country that limits access to its own natural resources. If we were able to just use the resources we have, that would help solve our energy problems too.

UPDATE (by Carter Wood): Not only is new technology opening up new areas to exploration and drilling, it’s solving the mysteries of Atlantis! National Geographic News reports that a volcanic explosion 3,600 years ago in the Aegean Sea may have been twice as large as previously thought. How do they know?

Using techniques similar to those employed by oil companies to search for offshore deposits, the research team found a ring of volcanic deposits extending all the way around the Santorini archipelago.

In a related note, Donovan is appearing on stage in Liverpool this weekend with Tony Sheridan and John Lennon’s Original Quarrymen. Little innovation is expected.