We’ve come a long way since Deepwater Horizon

Corpus Christi Caller Times | May 31, 2017 | David de Roode

President Trump’s executive order aimed at rolling back efforts to ban oil and natural gas drilling in huge swaths of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans came as welcome relief to our industry. Last month marked the seventh anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon accident and gulf oil spill. This tragedy continues to provide a powerful reminder that the number one priority of the oil and gas industry is and must always be safety: the safety of our workers, our communities and our shared environment.

The payoffs could be enormous. Several years ago, an independent study by Quest Offshore Resources found that oil and natural gas exploration and development off our Atlantic coast alone, would create nearly 300,000 new jobs, add $24 billion annually to the overall U.S. economy, and contribute more than $50 billion in cumulative government revenue by 2035. Add in reserves located in the Arctic and Pacific oceans and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and those numbers climb even higher.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration made two politically charged decisions that block access to these resources. The first was the “permanent” withdrawal of huge swaths of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. The second was a blanket denial of permits to conduct seismic surveys in the Atlantic, claiming environmental concerns which are contradicted by the top scientist at the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) who has cited zero evidence of seismic surveys harming marine life.

Whatever the motivation for these decisions, they were based largely on a faulty premise that the offshore industry can’t explore for and produce oil and natural gas safely. The truth is we’ve learned a lot during the years since the Deepwater Horizon incident both in terms of how to prevent future spills and how to respond more quickly and effectively should one occur. Industry established the Center for Offshore Safety that coordinates and assists the energy industry in seeing that all operations are conducted safely and efficiently. New technologies for prevention and containment have been developed, and new procedures and equipment for a coordinated industry-government response are in place.

The world is going to need a lot more oil and natural gas over the next 25 years. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects a 48 percent increase in global energy demand by 2040, and that fossil fuels will meet at least 80 percent of that demand. Think of what that could mean for the U.S. in terms of economic growth and our role in the developing world.

Read the full op-ed here.

David de Roode is a partner and senior vice president at Lockton Global Energy & Marine, a risk management consulting and insurance brokerage firm based in Houston servicing the global energy and marine industries, and a NOIA Board Member. 

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