Exploration needed to find true offshore potential

Houston Chronicle:

The debate over whether to lift a 27-year-old ban on offshore drilling in most U.S. waters raises a key question that some say hasn't been answered: How much oil and gas is really out there?

Government estimates are based on data that in some cases haven't been updated in 40 years. Technology used to detect oil and gas resources in rockbeds below the sea floor has improved dramatically since then.

That's why the oil and gas industry argues that the only way to have a fair discussion about opening all or part of the banned areas is to do new surveys, using the latest technology.

"We would think policymakers would want to know what's out there," said Dan Naatz, vice president for natural resources at the Independent Petroleum Association of America, an industry trade group. "Right now, it's a complete black hole."

Randall Luthi, director of the U.S. Minerals Management Service, an arm of the Interior Department charged with overseeing offshore drilling in federal waters, said the ban removes the incentive for companies to perform new seismic surveys.

"Most seismic companies are more than willing to go look at areas, but frankly they want to be able to sell their data to someone," Luthi said. "And as long as those areas are covered by federal moratoria, there's really no market for it."

Opponents of lifting the ban see new testing as the start of a slippery slope that would lead to drilling. And they say it's a waste of money at a time when the U.S. should be investing in ways to break its addiction to oil.

...

In other words opponents want to strangle us into changing our energy source rather than coming up with a marketable solution. However, using the money saved from doing our own production rather than transferring wealth to people who don't like us is a much more sane way of dealing with the perceived problem. The opponents of offshore drilling are just being irrational. They are sending money that could be used for investment in new alternatives to people who have no incentive to do so. They also oppose most forms of energy anyway which raises questions about the sincerity of their opposition to this one too.

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