October 13, 2008

Dril, Offshore—Drill.

Alex Mills, president of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, discusses the changes in technology that make drilling off-shore a different type of endeavor now than it was in the 1960:

An offshore spill near Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1969, almost 40 years ago, has been used over and over again by environmental groups to prevent offshore drilling in federal waters.

Many members of Congress from California, Florida and other states with shoreline rant and rave whenever someone suggests drilling offshore of their coast. They wrongly claim that drilling and production activities offshore are hazardous to the environment.

According to a study by the Mineral Management Service (MMS) at the Department of Interior, the largest man-made polluter of the oceans is ship traffic, and many of those ships are bringing imported oil to the United States. The MMS study shows that ship traffic accounted for 45 percent of offshore pollution, compared to just 3 percent from drilling and producing platforms.

The technology for drilling, producing and protecting the environment has changed dramatically since 1969, as has most everything else. This was recently illustrated in 2005 when Hurricanes Rita and Katrina destroyed about 115 offshore platforms and severely damaged 52 others. However, the MMS and the U.S. Coast Guard reported no major spills.

More recently, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike roared through the Gulf, causing damage but nothing near the catastrophic damage of Rita and Katrina. Still, no major oil spills have been reported from offshore rigs. An Associated Press story on Oct. 6 claimed that 500,000 gallons of petroleum and chemicals were released from gasoline stations, abandoned propane tanks, paint cans and other source, but MMS said of the 3,800 platforms in the Gulf, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike destroyed 52 and severely damaged 32 more. The only spill reported involved 200 barrels of oil.

Natural pollution greatly exceeds anything released by oil companies: through natural oil seeps, some 620,000 barrels of oil each year oozes from beneath the ocean floor, but the MMS estimates that oil companies spill about 6,555 barrels per years.

Santa Barbara - the site of the last oil accident from a production platform some 40 years ago - is home to one of the largest oil seeps in the world. Underground pressures force more than 100 barrels of oil up to the beaches in Santa Barbara daily. Ironically, if environmentalists would back away from their opposition to additional drilling, the pressure that forces out the oil naturally could be reduced, and so could the amount of oil seepage.

Any plan that reduces the rate at which tar messes up the beaches of Santa Barbara and Carpinteria gets my vote—as long as it isn't screwing up the surfing in those areas.

Mills' article is in an online newspaper called Go San Angelo.

Posted by Attila Girl at October 13, 2008 03:22 AM | TrackBack
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