Jane Van Ryan
Posted May 4, 2010
In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon accident, one of the most often asked questions is: What does this mean for the future of offshore drilling?
While many people are understandably concerned about the safety and environmental risks associated with offshore drilling, we are encouraging all Americans not to rush to judgment on this issue until we've learned what went wrong. This tragic accident shouldn't be used as an excuse to roll back the gains that have been made in developing new technologies to explore and develop our own energy resources.
The fact is that energy demand is growing, and this nation will need more oil and natural gas to meet the demand in the coming decades.
"...whatever the magnitude of the spill at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana, it is unlikely to seriously impede offshore drilling in the Gulf. The country needs the oil -- and the jobs...The nation's demand for oil has surged, rising more than 35 percent over the past four decades, while domestic production has declined by a third. Oil imports have doubled, and the United States now buys more than 12 million barrels of oil a day from other countries, about two-thirds of its needs."
"In the short term, the impact of the West Virginia and the Gulf disasters will be terrible. Lessons learned and applied, however, can turn these tragedies into long run triumphs. It is important, therefore, that government officials reserve judgment until the investigations are complete, and that they view the results of those investigations as dispassionately as possible. The lives that have been lost, and those that could be saved, demand no less."
"We don't want to see oil spills, either from drilling or shipping, so we constantly work to improve the technology and reduce the risks. And we will no doubt learn from this sad event and continue to improve safety precautions and procedures."
"Some will want use this spill in 5,000 feet of water as the reason to stop drilling anywhere domestically...Shelf drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has been relatively spill-free for 40 years. Industry has learned how to drill on land from small, minimally impacting footprints. We should not react emotionally to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but learn from its lessons and figure out a more sensible domestic exploration policy that builds on existing conventional technologies."
"[What] bothers me...[is] the refusal to accept the simple proposition that in life, there are choices, and choices have consequences, and sometimes it's necessary to accept some downside to get a lot of upside. People don't seem to acknowledge the upside of petroleum -- like being able to drive places, or having heat and electricity in their homes, and so on -- because it "just happens," by magic, I guess. On the other hand, show them a dying otter and they want to stop this all."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.