Stranger Fruit

Reality Check on Off-shore Drilling

From the Wall Street Journal:

If the bans were lifted tomorrow, it would be at least seven years — and likely as long as a decade — before the first oil began to flow off the coasts of Florida, California and the eastern seaboard.

"Is it going to happen overnight? No," said Dan Naatz, vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. "Is it going to solve all of our nation’s energy problems? No."


  1. #1 Megan Boris
    June 19, 2008

    That’s very interesting…I think the common thought is that if off shore drilling is started it will “cure the high gas crisis”. But I think many people do not stop to think about the time, supplies, people, and organization that must go into beginning off shore drilling. And even if it was passed, how long would it last before we were right back where we are now?

  2. #2 Crudely Wrott
    June 19, 2008

    If we do not start some positive course of action to insure energy (at least semi-) independence right now, it will be longer than seven to ten or more years.

    We have economies and infrastructures that are based on the assumption of continuous energy supply.

    Everything that is designed, everything that goes on to manufacture and then to wide distribution (think bar soap and transistors and rich, dark chocolate) uses BTUs, horsepower, joules.

    Fossil fuels exist in large amounts but have become problematic.

    Many alternative hypotheses to fossil fuel exist, but most of them are nascent or provide uninspiring data.

    Would anyone like to suggest how long it would take to make the change over from fossil fuel to any other source? How many gas stations are there in America? In the world? How many miles of gas pipe carry the fuel that heats your home? How many trucks are dedicated to transporting conventional fuel?

    How much energy will be consumed producing alternate sources and where will that energy come from?

    We need more oil now. We will need it tomorrow and for the foreseeable future.

    We need to get it out of the ground and into our tanks in a timely fashion and we need also look at short and long, I say long, term alternatives. While we are doing so we should remind ourselves that there will not be one solution. There is no painless fuel source. Rather, we should take energy wherever it is found, even in the smallest amounts, and put it into the grid. To do so will require the burning of fossil fuel.

    We might more enjoy reminding ourselves that attention to this task of finding enough useful solutions to ensure our weaning from fossil fuels just might be hailed by all the generations a’ comin’. Wouldn’t that be sweet?

  3. #3 John Mashey
    June 19, 2008

    We’ll probably drill all these sooner or later, alhtouhg I don’t expect to be around to see it. Oil is just too useful, but even if they said GO today, offshore drill rigs aren’t like taxicabs.

    However, the best context for this came to me from a friend a year our two ago, whose 13-year-old daughter asked him:

    “Daddy, are you adults going to leave any oil for us?”

    A: not much, and almost none for your children.

    Think of offshore and ANWR as piggy banks for future generations, for when even a little oil will help a lot as the Petroleum Age winds down.

    Elsewise, what a GREAT plan:
    let’s go find and burn all the oil&gas we can, as fast as we can, so we can get that CO2 into the atmosphere. Then we can increase use of coal for electricity and synfuels, when we’re desperate, and for sure, before people make carbon capture and sequestration work. Also, let’s do ANWR before the permafrost melts.

    THEN, as the people of 2100 try to deal with rising sea levels and having to move water around, they can do so with no cheap diesel fuel to push dirt for dikes, and build steel&concrete sea walls. I’m sure they’ll remember us well for all that.

    This is pretty strange to me, but then I grew up on a (hilly) farm that had been in the family for 120 years, and still had topsoil and some trees. I’m sure some ancestors would have done better to have cut down all the trees and sold the firewood, and straight plowing is less work than contour plowing, but they didn’t do those things. I guess people don’t think that way these days.

  4. #4 tincture
    June 20, 2008

    Being hooked on Heroin is ok for me, because I thought I had run out but I just a found tiny bit in the bottom of an old drawer.

    Problem solved!

  5. #5 Ian
    June 20, 2008

    I’m still missing the “logic” here that says if we go after the hardest-to-get oil in the most expensive places we can drill, then gas prices will come down?

    I’m betting you can substitute “wishful thinking” for “logic” and you’d be far more accurate. I’m waiting for the movie – “Oil Field of Dreams”.

    High oil price are what we need to bring us to our energy senses. Anyone who is talking about bringing them down by any means has their head in the sand, whether that sand be in the Middle East or at the bottom of the ocean.

    “Blue October” had a song in the charts recently called “Into the Ocean”. It was about a lost love, but almost word for word it could be about our current blind confusion over oil.

  6. #6 Michael
    June 20, 2008

    High oil price are what we need to bring us to our energy senses.

    Indeed you are missing the logic. The demand in the United States has been down for quite some time, using 500,000 barrels less yet oil prices keep going up. One the other hand, places like China and India, their demand has skyrocketed in the last three years. Eventually, places like China will be driving more cars than the United States. And it’s not because China can drill for more oil where ever they like, it’s the fact that their economy is booming.

    Basically the same arguments were used back in 1995 when oil was only 19 dollars a barrel. Clinton then refused to drill for more oil. If had the increase in production for oil would have started back then, we would have a million more barrels a day. It’s unlikely that oil prices would have continue to be cheap, but certainly not as high as it is now. More drilling has to start sometime especially when reserves are plentiful in the US…

    Apparently Ian must have a lot of money or is not affected much by higher energy costs. The costs hurt the middle class and the poor. Cars which will use less gas than they do now will not be affordable to the poor, and very hard to buy for the middle class. Higher oil prices not only affects the price at the pump, but raw materials too and the purchasing power to buy other things such as food.

  7. #7 John Mashey
    June 20, 2008

    For Michael:

    I have some friends who think:

    a) Oil+gas provide a large fraction of our energy.
    b) Peak Oil is real, and here now, or soon, and the Petroleum Age is winding down this century.
    c) We’ll drill all we can, but there is zero chance we’ll drill our way out of the problem.
    d) We need to go all-out on efficiency as top priority, while we undertake the difficult task of *investing* our one-time fossil inheritance in reengineering the world’s energy systems off fossil fuel.

    One friend is a geoscientist, Lord Ron Oxburgh, who is ex-Chairman of Shell Oil, who says this about Peak Oil and this about climate.

    Another is Dennis Bonney, who used to be Vice-Chairman of Chevron, in charge of all exploration and production. I ‘d summarize a recent talk at dinner as EFFICIENCY OR ELSE.

    These are smart guys who know the oil business better than I do, although I’ve been around the world helping sell ~$500M worth of supercomputers & workstations to petroleum geologists and executives. I’ve been in San Ramon, Calgary, Houston, Rio, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Dhahran [takes Saudi gov’t OK], Perth, several places in China, and others I’ve forgotten. I’ve talked to the guy in charge of Shell’s Athabasca tar sands, and to Chevron’s recently-retired CTO. I heard nothing anywhere to contradict the views above. I heard lots of discussion about difficult problems …

    Meanwhile, for a reality check, people might read:
    David Strahan, The Last Oil Shock
    Kenneth Deffeyes, Beyond Oil
    Matthew Simmons, Twilight in the Desert
    or The Oil Drum, to pick a few.

    So, Michael might be right and all these oil folks wrong, but in the absence of explanations why he knows better, I think I’ll stick with them.

  8. #8 Michael
    June 21, 2008

    We’ll drill all we can, but there is zero chance we’ll drill our way out of the problem.

    Your arguments are very costly and rely too much on foreign oil especially from countries who are hostile towards the United States…There is no logical reasoning on why will should be depended upon it. Let me remind you, when the largest off shore oil well was found, which was estimated at 800,000 barrels per day, it had yet to produce any oil but still had impact on the market which dropped a barrel of oil from it’s previous 78 dollar high to under 70.

    Alaska’s pipeline isn’t going to last forever, it’s producing less oil now than it did when it first began. Russia hit their peak in 2005 as they are trouble pumping out oil…Russia by the way, helped the US get out of the oil crisis of the late 70’s early 80’s by boosting it’s production and the US went to smaller cars.

    But unlike the 80’s where small cars which were cheap and Russia was able to make up the production difference, the newer “EFFICIENCY” of today and beyond will not be practical for many Americans. That concept will take years before it will affect the market.

    task of *investing* our one-time fossil inheritance in reengineering the world’s energy systems off fossil fuel.

    We have, it’s called “bio-fuel” which is made by the most important crop in the US, namely “corn”. A bad idea, bio fuel is big business and has helped with raising food prices. For years, they have been spending money on alternatives, and have come up with one of the worst solutions: bio-fuels. It pollutes more, it’s more expensive to make than gas, you can’t pump it through a pipeline so it has to be transported by other vehicles which causes more pollution…And much to reliant on one crop.

    So “investing” in the future sort of deal is really like a crap shoot.

    Here are some solutions

    1) Build two refineries, in case a hurricane disables one or another breaks down. And it gives the ability to refine more incoming oil which leads us a course to…

    2) More major drilling in Alaska and off shore which we haven’t really done much of since the 1970’s. Even if the discoveries are not pumping out oil yet, it will affect the market as sighted an example earlier.

    3) Make affordable transportation which uses less gas

    4) Build more nuclear power plants

    5) Build less windmills which doesn’t generate much power but uses up too much land and very costly to buy.

  9. #9 John Mashey
    June 22, 2008

    I see Stranger Fruit attracts a more eclectic readership than I’d thought – you probably didn’t know about the dinosaurs living around humans 800 years ago.

    From one of Michael’s web pages, I see:

    “In the Khmer civilization there is a Buddhist temple deep in the jungle. The above picture shows in part what’s on the temple.Yep, it’s a depiction of a dinosaur. Since there were no museums, internet, telegraph, or pictures 800 years ago of dinosaurs which is when the temple was built, one can only assume these creatures were living with man which again indicates a young earth that is thousands of years old and not millions of years old. There are many other animals carved out on this particular temple like monkeys, lizards, water buffalo, and birds. The ancient civilization was basically depicting their animal environment around them in honor of their pagan god.”

  10. #10 John Lynch
    June 22, 2008


    Yes. We’re a diverse bunch 🙂

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