Debunking the Myths about Offshore Drilling

By August 12, 2008Energy

The Washington Post assesses three of the arguments used by opponents of OCS oil and natural gas drilling in a good editorial today, “Snake Oil.” We especially appreciate the rebuttal to “use it or lose it,” the specious argument that oil companies are just sitting on vast lands for drilling and refusing to develop them because…well, there the argument falls short. The Post’s explanation is clear and persuasive:

The oil companies aren’t using the leases they already have. According to the MMS, there were 7,457 active leases as of June 8. Of those, only 1,877 were classified as “producing.” As we pointed out in a previous editorial, the five leases that have made up the Shell Perdido project off Galveston since 1996 are not classified as producing. Only when it starts pumping the equivalent of an estimated 130,000 barrels of oil a day at the end of the decade will it be deemed “active.” Since 1996, Shell has paid rent on the leases; filed and had approved numerous reports with the MMS, including an environmentally sensitive resource development plan and an oil spill recovery plan that is subject to unannounced practice runs by the MMS; drilled several wells to explore the area at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars; and started constructing the necessary infrastructure to bring the oil to market. The notion that oil companies are just sitting on oil leases is a myth. With oil prices still above $100 a barrel, that charge never made sense.

The Post does bow to the anti-energy shibboleth, ANWR, although it doesn’t really state an argument: “We agree that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, with its varied and sensitive ecosystems, should be preserved. In the quest for new sources of energy, there are trade-offs. That pristine area must remain off-limits.” We hope the member of the editorial board who elicited that concession appreciates it.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on CNN’s Larry King: “So there are things that Congress can do and we have voted on this over and over again. But the Republicans and the president have resisted. Instead, they have this thing that says drill offshore in the protected areas. Well, we can do that. We can have a vote on that. But it has to be part of something that says we want to bring immediate relief to the public and not just a hoax on them.” Some see in those comments a softening in the Speaker’s until-now resolute opposition to offshore drilling of any sort. That would be great. But we see a flexibile definition of “hoax” that could be called on to prevent action. 

As for “immediate relief,” an editorial in Investor’s Business Daily points to a report by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. From “Don’t Ask, Don’t Drill“:

The Minerals Management Service estimates there are 10 billion barrels waiting off the California coast.

“California could actually start producing new oil within a year,” the Bernstein report said, because the oil is in shallow water, and drilling platforms have been there since before the moratoria.

Immediate enough?

Join the discussion One Comment

  • ReCon USMC says:

    Wind , Solar at this point are many years away . Even the most positive minds like T Boone Picken’s say it is 10-15-20 years away and there is NO real way to store it as of yet … even if we could it is only 10-20 % use of our “current ” needs Pickens even says . Our Energy needs have doubled since 1970 . While our production has dropped 42 % . Yet the worlds needs have increased 40 % in the last 20 years .
    We can’t store Electric plant energy now .So 160 million electric cars and trucks is a pipe dream hooked up on the electric grid …. Or for that matter Homes and business’s . Those plants are now 50- 50 % Oil and Coal . Nukes work but Tree huggers hate that as well .
    So when the Syria Club says new Oil is 10 years away don’t drill now that is a Joke . It didn’t take 10 years for those 121 Oil drilling rigs off of our Coast lines now to produce oil .
    Oil is a known product we have used for well over a hundred years and massive amounts of Shale and Coal can be liquefied.America has Trillions of metric tons of Natural gas as well .
    I and many others don’t believe this is really about Global Warming at all since it has been cooler the last 10 years and now the left is saying it could be 2015-17 until it gets warmer .
    This is all about Socialism .It is the only way The left can Socialize this nation . It is years away from the ballot box when all Americans have to do is look at the European socialist model for the last 20 years . It is in shambles .
    As of Now I think all Tree Huggers should only be able to use “Alternatives ” .When they turn lights on , drive , eat …..Say alternatives . Lets see how well you eat , drive or work .
    Tree huggers remind me of the kid that says his teddy bear protected him when he was scare .
    We don’t have imaginary teddy bears we have oil and coal .

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