6 Aug. 2010
Offshore Drilling: A Bad Idea
Crude oil is one of the three kinds of fossil fuel (coal, crude oil, and natural gas) that are widely used by humanity. It plays a very important role in our world, as it is one of our primary energy sources. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the United States is the biggest oil consumption country in the world, which consumes 19.5 million barrels of oil per day (EIA, “Country Energy Profiles: Oil Consumption”).
Crude oil can not only be found on the continent, but also in the ocean. The activity that people discover and extract oil from the ocean is called offshore drilling. ...view middle of the document...
President George H. W. Bush issued an executive order in 1990, which banned offshore drilling in the United States (“Bush Lifts”). However, in 2008, President George W. Bush lifted the order (“Bush Lifts”). A debate about offshore drilling started. Eventually, on March, 2010, President Barack Obama announced that he will open new areas at the U.S. coastal water for new offshore drilling activities (Eilperin, Kornblut). Ironically, just a few weeks later on April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform was blew up and caused a massive oil spill at Gulf of Mexico. This incident made the offshore drilling debate become a hot topic.
The debate is focus on a few issues: oil price, energy independence, and environmental impact. Is offshore drilling has positive answers to all these issues? No. Expanding offshore drilling, instead of banning it, is a really bad idea.
Energy independence means that a country doesn’t rely too much on the resources imported from foreign countries. In 2009, the United States imported 3,289,675 thousand barrels of crude oil from foreign country (EIA, “Imports”). Meanwhile, the 2008 proved offshore oil reserves were 3,903,000 thousand barrels (EIA, “Reserves”). If the United States tries to achieve energy independence by offshore drilling, it will cost approximate 84.29% of the reserves (3,289,675 ÷ 3,903,000 = 84.29%) in one year. Thus, we should see the huge amount of import will overrun the offshore oil reserves easily. Offshore drilling will be a very short-term solution for complete energy independence.
How about a half-energy independence, which reduce the portion of import down to 50% of the total of import and domestic production? The 2009 domestic oil production of U.S. was 1,956,596 thousand barrels, and 43,550 thousand barrels were produced offshore (EIA, “Production”). The total of domestic production and import is 5,246,271 (1,956,596 + 3,289,675 = 5,246,271) thousand barrels, and 50% of it will be 2,623,136 thousand barrels. The gap between offshore oil production and the target production level is 622,990 thousand barrels (2,623,136 – 1,956,596 – 43,550 = 622,990). This is approximate 16% (622,990 ÷ 3,903,000 = 16%) of the proved offshore oil reserves. So, still, the offshore oil reserves are not enough for even long-term half-energy independence either.
Let’s look at the impact on the oil price next. In 2007, the EIA did an analysis about the impacts that increase the access to oil in the OCS will bring. It shows that if the United States starts expanding the offshore drilling activities after 2012, when is the limitation expire, the production of oil will not start sooner than 2017 (EIA, “Impacts”). The U.S. crude oil production will only increase 1.6% between 2012 and 2030, even if the offshore drilling is expanded (EIA, “Impacts”). Eighteen years for just a 1.6% increase, that is not worth.
Also, the analysis report claims that “Because oil prices are determined on the international...