News / USA

    US Deepwater Oil Industry at Risk from Gulf Disaster

    The catastrophic oil leak from a BP-operated rig off the coast of the U.S. state of Louisiana and the Obama administration's six-month moratorium on further deepwater drilling threaten one of the nation's most vital industries. Oil and gas operations in the Gulf of Mexico have become an important source of jobs as well as energy for the United States.

    Officials in Texas, Louisiana and other states on the Gulf of Mexico say the moratorium on new drilling in deepwater could put thousands of people out of work and prompt companies to move their expensive rigs to other parts of the world where they are in demand.  President Obama last week said he would lift the moratorium sooner if the commission examining safety issues can complete its work sooner.

    Thousands of energy sector layoffs could devastate Gulf state economies dependent on the industry for much of their income and growth.  But the rest of the nation would also feel the impact if there is a dramatic decrease in oil production in the Gulf.

    Despite the current crisis, Tyler Priest, an energy sector historian at the University of Houston, says the United States will have to keep drilling there or import more oil from other nations.

    "It is understandable that people now are very nervous about offshore oil when they can see the huge impact that something like this has and is going to have," he said. "But, on the other hand, we need oil from offshore.  The Gulf of Mexico accounts for 30 percent of our domestic oil production."

    Priest says energy companies started working on rigs offshore as early as 1938, but that underwater drilling expanded rapidly after World War II as resources became harder to find elsewhere.  The oil fields tapped in deepwater operations have also proved to be very lucrative, he says.

    "The productivity of deepwater reservoirs is incredibly high," Priest said.  "[They are] very prolific wells: so you can get from a single well 20, 30, even 40,000 barrels a day, whereas onshore or in shallower water a good well would produce 1,000 to 3,000 barrels a day."

    There has not been a significant accident at a deepwater operation in the Gulf of Mexico for more than 30 years, but Tyler Priest says the magnitude of the current one is likely to result in increased scrutiny and regulation.  The problem he says government will face is finding inspectors and regulatory officials with enough training and experience to properly carry out the assignment.

    "They do have their work cut out for them because this is probably the most sophisticated industry on earth today," he said.

    But Priest says government and industry will have to address the problems associated with exploiting resources in such risky environments.  The University of Houston professor says the current crisis should prompt a serious discussion of energy development.

    "One thing this disaster will do is force us into a debate and a conversation and maybe those will lead us to the formulation of a national energy policy or national energy strategy," he said.

    Among the possible solutions ahead, Tyler Priest says, would be conversion of freight transportation vehicles to natural gas, which has now become abundant in the United States thanks to advances in drilling techniques.  But any such move would take many years to complete and, in the meantime, he says, the country will still need oil.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora