Offshore drilling is one of the primary ways of obtaining oil. Big oil rigs are set up in the ocean when oil is discovered in a certain location. While oil clearly has many benefits, there are also strong disadvantages and risks associated with such drilling. With all the disadvantages, you'll have to decide for yourself whether you think offshore drilling is worth it.
Perhaps the most unsettling of the disadvantages of offshore drilling is the high rate of environmentally- detrimental accidents. For proof, you need only look back at the British Petroleum (BP) oil leak in the Gulf Coast in 2010. Such accidents carry with them both heavy environmental and economic risks. Santa Clara University states that only five to 15 per cent of the average oil spill is ever actually cleaned up, leaving the rest to afflict the delicate marine environment and its animals. Also, oil spills greatly damage the economy of states dependent on offshore fishing and coastal tourism.
Building the Platforms
Oil spills aren't the only environmental danger associated with offshore drilling. USA Today claims heavy damage is caused simply by building and installing the rigs. Large canals are dug to lay pipeline in delicate wetlands. For example, such construction in Louisiana has caused coastal decay and greatly disturbed the area's natural ecosystem. USA Today also claims that successful oil rigs also attract ports, petrochemical plants and other infrastructure that further deteriorates the environment and ecosystem of the area.
Offshore drilling, at least in America, is fairly impractical. According to NorthByNorthwestern.com, if the U.S. hypothetically used all of the oil available through offshore drilling and no foreign oil, we'd run out in less than three years. Of course, in reality this isn't even possible, since there's no way to access much of the oil and to do so would take way too long. The United States Energy Information Administration says that if the process of drilling for oil is started in 2012, no economic advantage will be realised until around 2030. With such a low return on investment over such a long period of time, offshore drilling is very impractical, especially given the damage it can cause.
- Santa Clara University: Offshore Drilling
- USA Today: Worth the Risk? Debate on Offshore Drilling Heats Up
- North by Northwestern: Why Offshore Drilling Is Ineffective and Dangerous
- U.S. Energy Information Administration: Impacts of Increased Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf