Oil is one of the fundamental needs of the modern world. In the United States, millions of barrels of oil are consumed every day. About 70% of the need for oil goes to meeting our modern transportation needs. Many of the items that we use today also comes from the oil production process, including the plastics that are likely in the computer or mobile device owned to read these words right here. Most of the oil is drilled from the ground, but there are offshore reserves that could be tapped into as well.
Is setting up an offshore drilling rig the right decision to make? There are some advantages to accessing oil reserves that are deep under the water and there are some disadvantages to this practice. Here are the pros and cons of offshore drilling to think about.
What Are the Pros of Offshore Drilling?
1. It increases the overall supply of oil that hits the general market.
Oil is a commodity that is based on supply and demand. When there is more oil on the market, then the prices are lower and this creates lower prices for fuel, plastics, and other oil-related products. When less oil is on the market, then the prices are higher for everything across the board. By committing to offshore drilling, the possibility of adding more oil to reduce local costs becomes possible.
2. It provides a nation with some energy self-reliance.
A majority of the world’s oil comes from the OPEC conglomerate, which means the flow of oil and its prices are somewhat out of local control. Although investors can put money into the futures market to predict higher or lower costs, the ultimate bottom line is that one decision by OPEC could create oil shortages for a majority of the world. Offshore drilling would help to limit the impact of such an event occurring.
3. It creates local jobs.
Local jobs have a tremendous ability to stimulate a local economy. Local dollars that are spent locally have nearly double the value of outside dollars. This means that everyone is able to improve their overall quality of life as more money typically means more services being received. Jobs in offshore drilling would create more local jobs for supporting the drilling and this trickles down throughout every sector.
4. It can help a developing nation transform into an industrialized nation.
Although the industrial revolution is centuries old, the vast majority of countries today are not fully developed. Many of them struggle to provide their citizens with basic needs like fresh water. The vast majority of the world still operates on less than $2 per day on worker salaries. By opening up shores to offshore drilling, the possibility of developing that country into an industrialized power house becomes a real possibility.
What Are the Cons of Offshore Drilling?
1. It could be dangerous to the environment.
As numerous oil spills and offshore drilling accidents have shown, all it takes is one accident to cause a lot of damage to the environment. Oil sits on top of the water and it suffocates the sea life that it encounters. It covers birds so they can’t fly and coats the fur of other sea species. Without proper cleaning and treatment, one accident from offshore drilling can create a tremendously large death zone in the sea.
2. It is an isolated job that takes on tremendous risk.
At the Gulf Coast offshore drilling accident proved, working for an oil company can be very profitable, but it can also be very dangerous. Because the offshore drilling rigs are so far from emergency services, one accident can cost many lives. If a rig needs to be abandoned and a worker is unable to swim, they’d be caught having to decide if they want to die by drowning or by the conditions on the rig.
3. They create pollution.
No matter what a personal stance on global warming may be, there is no denying that an offshore drilling rig produces an enormous amount of air pollution that can affect a shoreline.
4. It can contaminate the food chain.
Even when oil spills are contained or accidents happen that are deemed to be minor, the impact on sea life is felt throughout the entire food chain. People can no longer eat the seafood items that are normally part of their diet. The distributors of those seafood items can no longer profit from the foods being produced. Those who fish commercially no longer have a viable form of income. In the end, one accident can devastate an entire community.
5. It’s expensive to get started.
A huge investment upfront is needed to get an offshore drilling rig into place. Without the budget to get a rig started, a country is either reliant on a private organization to fund the rig and take a majority of the profits or leave the oil reserves where it happens to be.
What Is the Solution to the Oil Problem?
In evaluating the pros and cons of offshore drilling, there seem to be two key answers that can put the issue to rest. The first would be to end the societal dependence on oil as much as possible. Because 70% of the oil need goes directly into transportation costs, if less oil was needed to create fuel or the products that can be found in the modern automobile, there is a good chance that offshore drilling wouldn’t even be required.
How can less oil be achieved? Through better fuel efficiency. In recent estimates provided to the US Government, simple savings measures and better overall fuel efficiency could reduce the amount of oil that is needed by more than 8 times. Instead of opening up shorelines to more drilling to encourage more waste, measures of efficiency create the need for less oil and then ultimately drive down the cost of the product.
Is offshore drilling the right choice for a nation? By evaluating the pros and cons of the subject, like those above, we can all decide if the risks outweigh the rewards and come to the right choice.