The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Offshore Drilling is Not a Major Risk to Florida

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted April 15, 2010

A new study prepared for the Florida House of Representatives says offshore oil and natural gas activities "are unlikely to present a major risk to Florida."

The study, conducted by Willis Structured Risk Solutions, is part of an ongoing effort to gather information about the costs and benefits of offshore drilling. State leaders are considering whether to open state-owned offshore areas to oil and natural gas development.

Florida owns the portion of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) that extends three miles or so to the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic and 10.4 miles along its western coastline into the Gulf of Mexico. The OCS areas that exist beyond these boundaries are controlled by the federal government.

The study says that there is "great uncertainty" about the amount of oil and natural gas that could exist in Florida's waters because no drilling has occurred in 25 years. Additionally, it acknowledges that exploration technology has improved dramatically, and the only way to prove that energy reserves exist is to drill.

The study also says:

  • An oil spill would be a "very rare" occurrence, and oil would not reach Florida's beaches.
  • OCS geology would determine the oil and natural gas industry's footprint.
  • Florida could take a "hands on" approach to offshore development to ensure that jobs and revenues are generated within the state.

Last year, the Florida House voted overwhelmingly to pass a bill to authorize energy development in Florida state waters. In March, resolutions were also introduced to lift drilling bans in federal waters near Florida's coastline.

The oil and gas industry utilizes state-of-the art technology and strict operating practices to ensure that any development would be done in a way that protects both the environment and state's vital tourism industry.