Energy Expert Ballentine: Promise of Florida’s Offshore Oil is Exaggerated
For years, the US oil industry has touted domestic offshore drilling as a pivotal component of any solution to this country’s energy issues. But many disagree, and question whether exploitation of coastal waters for fuel would bring the benefits that supporters claim.
An opinion piece from Tallahassee.com echoes this skeptical sentiment. Looking specifically at Florida’s near-shore waters, Thomas Ballentine finds that the promise of offshore oil and natural gas drilling is “vastly overblown.” The US Minerals Management Service estimates that the Eastern Planning Area of the Gulf contained only 1 million barrels of crude oil, which isn’t even enough to supply the US for one hour.
While Ballentine limits his argument to the projects proposed for waters off Florida’s coasts, it nonetheless serves as an invitation to re-examine the value of reserves of fossil fuels off our coasts more generally. Offshore and deep water drilling is neither easy nor cheap, and often poses environmental risks. Ultimately, the question is whether or not the risks and costs are outweighed by the amount of energy the projects will provide. If you ask Ballentine that question about Florida’s offshore reserves, he’ll have a quick and clear answer: no.
To recover the deep natural gas stores off Florida’s panhandle will take billions of dollars of investment and five to seven years before any of this gas ever reaches shore, according to Ballentine. And even then, it will only provide 5 percent of Florida’s daily natural gas consumption over a 10-year period. By these numbers, any hopes that offshore reserves will be able to supply a substantial amount of Florida’s energy needs would be misplaced.