Offshore drilling is an activity that has both economic and environmental impact. It is also one of the most debatable topics because supporters and critics have opposing views about offshore drilling. President Obama supports limited offshore drilling in the coasts of the U.S. because of the aim to gain extensive energy independence overhaul. However, the debate continues.
How Does It Work?
Offshore drilling is a mechanical process done to explore and draw out petroleum from rock formations underneath the sea bed. The basic process is almost the same as onshore drilling. However, instead of going deep into the earth, offshore drilling goes deep into the middle of the ocean, with depth that reaches from hundreds to thousands of meters. There are also several types of facilities where offshore drillings are done. This can be combined drilling and production facilities, which can be bottom-founded or floating platforms, bottom-founded facilities and deepwater mobile units such as drills hips and semi-submersibles.
Despite the promise of self-reliance when it comes to energy supply, numerous groups are against the expansion of offshore drilling. And although there are advantages to this process, there are also disadvantages brought about by this activity.
List of Pros of Offshore Drilling
With the millions of barrels of oil needed to supply the growing market, the U.S. import petroleum from OPEC conglomerates. This does not only cost money but basically, the country is at the mercy of its suppliers. If OPEC decides to increase the price of oil per barrel or discontinue delivery to its exporters, industries and the people will get affected. Offshore drilling makes it possible for the United States to increase its reserve and address the demand for oil.
2. Supply Increase
Being a commodity that relies on supply and demand, the price of oil will increase or decrease depending on the availability of petroleum products. When there is sufficient or abundant supply, consumers can enjoy reduced oil prices as well as other products that use oil. Moreover, prices of goods will also decrease. On the other hand, when there is less supply of oil, prices are bound to increase. With offshore drilling, there is the possibility that supply will also be increased. Consequently, oil retailers will also cut down their oil prices.
3. More Jobs
Offshore drilling, just like any other industry, requires manpower, engineers, and office personnel, others. The more ongoing drilling activities, the bigger is the need for people to fill in positions. These local jobs not only boost the economies of communities but also the economy of the country. The quality of life of employed workers improves and their spending power strengthens. Offshore drilling creates more jobs and this has a positive effect on the people with different sectors benefiting as well.
4. Industrialization Boost
Industrialization means that a country has a chance to be financially and economically efficient. Although this development has been present since the 1700s, there are still many poor countries with rich natural resources but lack funds. With investors spending for offshore drilling, jobs will be created and there is a big chance that these countries can also become industrialized powers like other First World countries.
List of Cons of Offshore Drilling
Just like fracking, offshore drilling contributes to air pollution and increased carbon emissions. This will have an effect on global warming and this is in a negative way. The rigs used to transport extracted oil to other points emit carbon as they traverse the roads, making offshore drilling itself harmful as well as the activities surrounding the drilling, from start up to finish.
2. Environmental Hazards
One major concern of offshore drilling critics is the danger brought about by oil spills. Offshore drilling accidents and oil spills cause a lot of harm not only to the environment and the people but most especially to marine life, coral reefs and birds that also rely on the sea for food. Moreover, oil spills can cause fire. Some of the accidents associated with drilling underwater include explosions and oil spills. Eleven workers died from the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico and 45,000 square miles of the sea was covered with oil. Moreover, fish die from oil spills which not only shorten marine life but also affect the lives of fisherman and the people living in the vicinity.
3. Effect on Other Industries
Tourism industry gets affected with the presence of offshore drilling. Resort owners are against these activities. Environmental and tourism advocates claim that these activities drive away tourists and will compromise the livelihood of the people and the establishments in these resorts. Moreover, billions of dollars in revenues will be lost if tourists stop to come in. A helicopter industry also reported substantial amount of profits lost because of oil drilling activities.
4. Risky for Workers
Although working for an oil company can lead to improved quality of life, it also entails risks. Accidents in this type of industry are possible and when it happens, it is riskier for the lives of the injured workers since there are no hospitals near the site for emergency cases. If accidents happen in a bigger scale, it will be difficult to transport victims to safety. Moreover, they are also exposed to harsh conditions such as extreme heat and cold as well as storms.
Offshore drilling involves a large amount of money especially for putting up the rig into place. If the country does not have enough resources to fund for the drilling, it needs investors who will be the ones to gain instead. And in case oil spills happen, the cost of cleaning and treatment is high and to ensure precautions are taken and clean up will be proper.
It looks like policy makers are keen on pushing with the drive to expand offshore drilling while people against it are surging towards their move to put it to a halt. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with offshore drilling if it is done on a limited scale. But if the people behind it will be too careless, American will have more to lose than to gain.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.