Reality of Offshore Drilling Proposal

By: Josh Knight Email
By: Josh Knight Email

Drilling could be in the future off the coast of Virginia after President Barack Obama's proposal Wednesday.

The proposal would end a moratorium on oil exploration along the East Coast.

Even with a change in regulations, it may not happen quickly. Political analyst Dr. Bob Roberts explains that the move is political and not very concrete.

"It's a very, very bright political move because he's being trashed by all of the 'Tea Party people' for being this Communist, this Socialist, and here you come out with a decision that will anger the left wing of the party, the environmentalists," says Roberts.

Roberts says this is a move back to the middle after passing the controversial health care reform.

Drilling will be opened to the private sector, but businesses aren't jumping at the chance yet.

"The amount of money it is going to take to drill in that part of the ocean is huge. We have not heard a single oil company say they are willing to do it. The problem with that is, where is the money going to come from to make such a large investment," asks Roberts.

John Haynes, a sedimentary petrologist and assistant professor at James Madison University, has worked with ocean core samples to find good oil drilling sites. He says even doing the initial research can cost millions of dollars.

"The expenses are enormous, so everybody, a Chevron, Exxon, or a Shell, they aren't going to want to commit resources like that," says Haynes.

To actually drill for oil using oil platforms is also very costly because the platforms are not owned by oil companies.

"The oil industry rents those," explains Haynes. "They don't own them, and they rent for about half a million dollars a day. That's a lot of money."

Haynes also recalls that research and drilling have been done off the East Coast in the past and companies still chose to drill elsewhere.

"The geologists who looked at it 35 years ago, and then they did drill, and it kind of came back and it was you know, [not worth it]," says Haynes.

To retrieve oil, Haynes explains the geological set up has to be just right to make it economical.

"From an economic stand point, no one is, I don't think, going to spend more money to recover a few barrels of oil than they are going to make to sell it," says Haynes.

He adds that science has improved a lot since the 70s when much of the continental shelf was first considered.

Now more research would need to be done to know exactly what is available.


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