The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

A Natural Solution for Oil Seepage

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 8, 2012

The LA Times had an article yesterday on the effect of oil naturally bubbling up off the coast of California:

"Oil seeping from the ocean floor off Santa Barbara is taking a toll on seabirds that are turning up by the dozens along the Southern California coastline coated in crude oil and tar. The naturally occurring oil bubbles up and afflicts birds every winter, but wildlife rescuers in recent weeks have seen an unusual influx of oiled seabirds stranded on the shore as far south as Orange County…Scientists believe the murre population is growing and expanding south, putting the football-sized birds at greater risk of diving into waters slicked by Southern California's oil leaks, the most significant of which are found in the Santa Barbara Channel near Coal Oil Point, where thousands of gallons of oil seep into the ocean each day...The hypothermic, malnourished birds lose energy fast. So they either die offshore or, in an act of desperation, plant themselves on the beach."

An unfortunate situation, but one with a remedy, as Christopher Helman points out:

"What’s entirely missing from the story is any hint of how this bird killing could be stopped. The solution is simple: allow drilling off the coast. Stick a few wells into that shallow reservoir and within a few years enough oil would be safely recovered that it would no longer leak out to kill birds. I guess that’s such a political non starter in California that the reporter doesn’t even bother mentioning it…Occidental Petroleum has for decades produced oil from a handful of wells in Los Angeles harbor. California should be smart about this and open up the seepage area to drilling…"


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.