blowout preventer

Very simply, the cheap and easy oil is gone.

What’s left is smaller, harder to find, of lesser quality, and in much more challenging places–under a mile of water and another five miles of rock, for example. It’s expensive, risky, and yes, dangerous.

Chris Nelder:

Today’s ‘blowout preventers’ are high-tech marvels, incorporating microprocessors, super high tolerance parts, electric motors, seals and other components in a unit that sits on the seabed under incredible pressure and temperature, waiting to disconnect the wellbore from the production system in seconds without spilling a drop of oil on command from an operator miles away.

What we do not  understand—at all—are the choices we now have to make.

Instead of having a rational discussion about how we’re going to manage our remaining offshore oil resources, we look to technology…as if deepwater drillships and blowout preventers and acoustic shutoff switches were the problem, rather than miraculous solutions only a dedicated junkie could love.

These technologies don’t fall from the sky. Every safety measure ever invented came as the result of a lesson learned the hard way.

After highly visible disasters like the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969, the Exxon Valdez spill, and now the Horizon spill, the public understands the risk of offshore oil production.

Those calling for an end to offshore oil production in the U.S. apparently don’t understand that it accounts for over 30 percent of our domestic supply.

They don’t understand that making offshore oil off-limits would be a double-whammy to our pocketbooks, both restricting our income and forcing us to import even more oil at ever-higher prices.