Offshore Oil Drilling Analysis

The sudden spike of oil prices in the country and the world market have prodded several issues regarding the uplifting of the offshore oil-drilling ban in the country to be debated yet again. There are opposing sides to this story; the environmentalists are opposed to uplifting the ban, while some of the citizens and authoritative political figures are considering uplifting it (Hornick). Offshore drilling was controversially banned in 1990 due to a spill in California (Shapley). Ever since then, offshore drilling on specific coasts was banned and it is just now that the ban was uplifted by President Bush.

Oil is a very important commodity for the United States. Oil consumption in this country is reaching 20,680,000 barrels a day (Petroleum Basic Statistics). One oil barrel is priced in the world market as $44, which went down from $106. 23 just a few months ago (Williams). The demand for oil comes as no surprise because it is not only used for operating transportation and machinery, but is also used for making appliances, cosmetic products, plastic containers, candles, among many others (Oil and Everyday Life).

Hence, a new source of oil is being reintroduced into the market, via offshore drilling. Offshore drilling is a process, which involves the utilization of certain machines that could dig onto offshore lands. These oilrigs are found the middle of big bodies of water, hence the name offshore (Freudenrich). The process of offshore drilling starts with finding the proper site. This assignment is done by geologists (Freudenrich).

The location of an offshore drilling site requires that there are the right conditions for an oil trap, like the right source rock, entrapment and reservoir rock (Freudenrich). These geologists employ the use of a variety of instruments that could indicate oil flow, like gravity meters that could measure changes in the gravitational field of the earth (Freudenrich). Flowing oil can also be sensed by magnetometers by the measurement of changes in the magnetic field of the earth (Freudenrich).

Another instrument that can be used to detect oil underground is called the sniffers that use electric noses to detect hydrocarbon smell (Freudenrich). What these geologists commonly use are the seismology instruments because these create shock waves that can pass through rock layers and once these waves bounce back, they are interpreted to determine the presence of oil inside (Freudenrich). When an oil source is tapped, the site is marked using a GPS device so that its coordinates can be determined or the site can be marked by marker buoys on water (Freudenrich).

Site selection is the first step in starting an offshore oilrig. Once a location has been chosen for drilling, the next step is determination of boundaries and conducting of environmental impact studies. There are also legal requirements needed to process like lease agreements, titles, and if it is an offshore land the legal jurisdiction is to be settled on (Freudenrich). After obtaining the legality of the area, the team is to prepare the land by clearing and leveling the site (Freudenrich). Sometimes, access roads have to be built.

A water source is also a necessity because water is needed in drilling. However is there is no available water source an artificial water well is drilled (Freudenrich). When the drilling starts, the team has to be able to get rid of the rocks and the mud that is not needed so it is also necessary that they make a reserve pit that is lined with plastic for these wastes (Freudenrich). However, a reserve pit cannot be made if the area is ecologically sensitive, so the rocks and mud are disposed offsite (Freudenrich).

After land preparation, holes are dug for the oilrig set-up. They usually dig many holes for several purposes such as for workspace, for the main hole where the oil is to be dug, and for storage (Freudenrich). However, the number of holes may vary, depending on the needs of the site. Once these are all done, the rig is set up on site. This is when the actual drilling is done next. However, even drilling is not an exact science. The team has to drill several depths down before they actually get oil.

Even if they do reach the lowest depth, testing will still be done for confirmation. Once confirmed, a well will be completed in site where the oil is expected to flow out. Efficiency of this machinery and method has already been proven since before its banning, offshore drilling was already producing oil products. Now that there have been several years in gap from the drilling before, experts say that when drilling is to be started soon, the actual production of oil can be expected in ten years time (Horton).

In spite of the said time delay in oil production, starting offshore drilling now will mean that the United States is serious in confronting the oil shortage issues. Finding solutions now will not become a hindrance to their development as a nation. Had drilling not been banned before, the oil that could have been produced during that time is on the market now. It can also be theorized that if the ban is uplifted and offshore is once again in process, it can bring about lower oil prices because of an opening in the supply chain. Efficiency wise, offshore drilling really works.

According to the Energy Information Administration or the EIA, if offshore drilling is conducted on the outer continental shelf of the US, it is estimated to produce 18 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil (Horton). This estimate can supply the country for two years stretch, which is still considered to be valuable given the situation that occurred when oil price was more than a hundred dollars per barrel (Horton). The anti-offshore drilling group is very much aware of the environmental impact offshore drilling is going to bring about.

Threats of oil-spill and destruction of habitats are a few of these. However, technological improvements have made offshore drilling safe with a 99. 99 percent safety record (Horton). In addition, oil spills from offshore drilling oilrigs are apparently nonexistent when compared to oil spills from natural sources and industrial waste (Horton). Chemical spills from the actual rig and digging are also said to be low enough to not cause trouble for the ecosystem. In fact, according to an article by Humberto Fontova, 30 percent of the United State’s commercial fisheries come from Louisiana (Fontova).

It can be concluded that Louisiana’s coastal waters are incalculably prosperous and abundant in producing seafood (Fontova). Moreover, the coastal waters of Louisiana contain around 3,200 out of the 3,700 offshore production platforms (Fontova). This is very much contrary to the popular belief that the locations of offshore drilling oilrigs become a hindrance to the natural ecosystem existing underneath. Furthermore, a Rigs to Reef program was established in Louisiana because of the startling and surprising effect that the oilrigs have produced to the ecosystem.

This program pays the offshore drilling company to stay in their place because of the contribution that it has done to the coastal habitat. In attacking an issue like this, we are not rocket scientists, and it is not actually an exact science to start with. The process is long and tedious and the time needed is also lengthy. The effects of starting oilrigs offshore have been studied, but the results showed otherwise. There are many factors to consider, many people to involve, and many battles to be won before offshore drilling is actually experienced again.

What is important is that we see that there are many people who would support a cause that could benefit the entire nation, and it shows that they want to produce change, may it be to lower the gas prices or to start an initiative. Works Cited: Fontova, Humberto. “Humberto Fontova: The benefits of offshore drilling. ” dallasnews. com. 11 June 2008. The Dallas Morning News. 16 Dec 2008 <http://www. dallasnews. com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/opinion/viewpoints/stories/DN-fontova_11edi. ART. State. Edition1. 460b04d. html>. Freudenrich, Ph. D. , Craig. “How Oil Drilling Works. ” 12 April 2001.

HowStuffWorks. com. 16 December 2008. <http://science. howstuffworks. com/oil-drilling. htm> Hornick, Ed. “Obama says offshore drilling stance nothing new. ” CNN. 03 August 2008. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. 16 Dec 2008 <http://www. cnn. com/2008/POLITICS/08/02/campaign. wrap/>. Horton, Jennifer. “Why is offshore drilling so controversial?. ” 11 August 2008. HowStuffWorks. com. 16 December 2008. <http://science. howstuffworks. com/offshore-drilling-controversy. htm> “Oil and Everyday Life. ” The Paleontological Research Institution. 2005. The Paleontological Research Institution.

16 Dec 2008 <http://www. priweb. org/ed/pgws/uses/uses_home. html>. “Petroleum Basic Statistics (data for 2007 except where noted). ” Energy Information Administration. 2008. Energy Information Administration. 16 Dec 2008 <http://www. eia. doe. gov/basics/quickoil. html>. Shapley, Dan. “Green Election Issues 101: Offshore Oil Drilling Is Oil the Future? Even if It Is, Would Offshore Oil Drilling Do Anything?. ” MSN. 2008. Microsoft. 16 Dec 2008 <http://green. msn. com/Home/Green-Election-Issues-101-Offshore-Oil-Drilling/>. Williams, James. “Crude Oil Futures Prices – NYMEX. ” WTRG Economics . 2008. WTRG