Offshore drilling the answer?
Gas prices suck right now. I don’t think there’s anyone reading this who could disagree with that statement. $4/gallon prices are painful, especially for those of us that commute to work every day. Add into that the rising food costs, and it makes it even harder on everyone to just get by.
The Republicans want to give the OK for more offshore drilling and for drilling in the Arctic. There’s estimated to be somewhere in the range of 18 billion barrels of oil in offshore reserves that are currently off-limits and possibly up to 12 billion barrels in the Arctic, which is a significant amount, no doubt about it. But would drilling in those places really help us with the crazy oil prices today?
The short answer to that question is “no”.
First of all, many oil companies aren’t even drilling in offshore areas where they’ve already leased the rights to drill. Right now, oil companies have leased around 90 million acres of offshore sites. Of that 90 million, around 70 million acres is not producing any oil at all. Basically, the oil companies are asking for access to MORE public lands before they’ve even tapped into the ones they already have.
The argument is that many of those sites are in deeper waters and would take longer to develop than sites closer to shore that are currently restricted under legislation from the 70’s. Based on how much oil is right now, I don’t think the oil companies are going to get very much sympathy from ANY of us about having to spend more money.
The lag time of exploring, developing, and then pumping oil from an offshore site is another reason that lifting the offshore ban will do little to nothing to ease our pain at the pumps right now. It can take up to 10 years to fully permit the area, get the equipment ready, and do the exploration to actually start getting ANY oil from the site, and even then, the amount of oil that would be available would likely do nothing to affect global oil prices.
If those sites offshore were fully tapped and producing oil, we could expect to add around 2-4 million barrels/day to the oil supply…again…10-12 years from now. Currently, in the US alone, we use around 21 million barrels/day. You also have to factor in that over those next 10-12 years it will take to fully develop those offshore sites, the capacity at current sites will start to diminish, which means that basically they would just be taking up slack for the amounts that we are losing.
As for the world oil market, OPEC can easily keep prices inflated by simply choosing to reduce their productivity by whatever amount we INCREASE it. So, if we add an additional 2 million barrels/day to the market, OPEC can simply scale back by 2 million barrels/day to keep the amount of oil available on the market unchanged.
Plain and simple, all of this is just a way for big oil to make more money, while making many of us feel all warm and fuzzy that gas prices are going to drop. That simply is not what will happen.
What we DO need as an actual ENERGY POLICY in this company that was not drawn up by big oil executives. We need to decrease our dependence on not just foreign oil but on oil PERIOD.
This is what Obama’s campaign position on the subject is:
“If offshore drilling would provide short-term relief at the pump or a long-term strategy for energy independence, it would be worthy of our consideration, regardless of the risks. But most experts, even within the Bush Administration, concede it would do neither. It would merely prolong the failed energy policies we have seen from Washington for thirty years. Senator Obama believes Americans need real short-term relief, which is why he has proposed a second round of stimulus with energy rebates for working families. And over the long-term, Senator Obama understands that our national security and the survival of the planet demand a real strategy to break our dependence on foreign oil by developing clean, new sources of energy and by vastly improving the energy efficiency of our cars, trucks and our economy. He is ready to lead such a transformation.”