“Offshore drilling is not a fit for Florida”… It doesn’t have to fit in Florida.

Guest post by David Middleton

The gray area on the map below is basically off limits to oil & gas operations.  It’s right next to the Central Gulf of Mexico and its prolific oil & gas production… Kind of analogous to Prudhoe Bay and ANWR Area 1002.

EGOM

US Gulf of Mexico GOMSEA Areas. DOI

Offshore drilling is not a fit for Florida: Guestview

Francis Rooney, Guest columnist Published 9:00 a.m. CT Dec. 1, 2017

Offshore drilling and related activities, including seismic testing, have no place in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. The moratorium on exploration in the Eastern Gulf established in 2006 will expire in 2022 unless Congress acts. It is imperative for the future of Florida and our tourism-based economy that this bi-partisan effort to extend the moratorium succeed. I believe that I have some credibility on this issue, having served on the board of one of the world’s leading land and offshore drilling firms for almost twenty years, Helmerich & Payne, Inc. (HP). In addition to its own offshore rigs, HP was the contractor on the Shell Oil’s huge MARS platform in the Gulf, and owned a major interest in Atwood Oceanics, a premier operator of drill ships. We have our own family working interests in oil and gas, and I served for many years on the board of Laredo Petroleum, Inc., and our private exploration and production company based in Bogota, Colombia.

The Eastern Gulf is of critical importance to our national security due to the flight training and testing that takes place from our numerous bases in the panhandle and around Tampa to Naval Air Station Key West. The Eastern Gulf is the largest training ground for the United States military in the world. For this reason, the Department of Defense (DoD) fully supports extending the moratorium on offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf. In response to a letter to the Department of Defense, which 14 of my Florida colleagues and I sent in March, A.M. Kurta, the acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, responded that it is of “vital importance” to maintain the moratorium.

Aside from security concerns, offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf will adversely impact our environment.

[…]

Francis Rooney is the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 19th congressional district. He is the vice-chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce. He previously served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2008.

Pensacola News Journal

With all due respect to Congressman Rooney, he’s wrong about almost everything.

Congressman Rooney: “Aside from security concerns…”

There are no genuine security concerns.

Eastern Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Exploration and Military Readiness

[…]

For many years, senior DoD civilian and military officials consistently reported that their forces were having an increasingly difficult time carrying out realistic training and testing due to constraints caused by encroachment on military ranges and installations from a myriad of factors, including munitions restrictions, transient ships or aircraft, electronic spectrum limitations, critical habitats, and adjacent water or land use by civilian or commercial entities, including offshore oil and natural gas facilities. However, upon examining the issue closely, it becomes readily apparent that, at the time, they had no factual basis for making those claims. Despite direction from Congress, until last year DoD had failed to adequately collect and analyze data regarding training and testing constraints due to encroachment.

[…]

Therefore, after conducting extensive research on the issues and completing a thorough analysis of the data, it is our conclusion that opening further portions of the Gulf of Mexico east of the Military Mission Line to oil and gas field exploration and development will not come at the expense of feasibly, sufficiently, and adequately accomplishing military training and testing missions. We do not believe that expanding oil and gas exploration on the Outer Continental Shelf within the Gulf of Mexico and pursuing national security goals are mutually exclusive actions.

[…]

Eastern Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Exploration and Military Readiness, Securing America’s Future Energy 2010

Aside from the lack of genuine security concerns, there could be quite a bit of oil & gas to be recovered…

OCS

Eastern Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Exploration and Military Readiness

Congressman Rooney: “Seismic testing to evaluate conditions for oil exploration may harm fish and marine mammal populations.”

There is zero-point-zero evidence that marine seismic surveying has harmed marine life in the Gulf of Mexcio… And a helluva lot of seismic data have been shot in the Gulf.

Seismic data has even been acquired all over the West Florida Shelf.

foldout20line20map1

Fugro 2d seismic data acquired in 2009-2010. GeoExpro Offshore Florida: Regional Perspective

IAGC Seismic Surveying 101

Marine airguns are no louder than many other naturally occurring and anthropogenic “sounds in the marine environment”…

marinesounds

IOGP Report 358 (out of print)

There are many natural sources of sound within the marine environment: wind, rain, waves, marine mammal vocalizations and the sounds made by other marine life all contribute to relatively high levels of ambient sounds. Other natural events such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and lightning strikes produce short-lived high intensity sounds underwater.

In addition, there are many man-made (anthropogenic) sources of sound in the ocean. Theseinclude shipping, fishing, sonar (used for navigation, fishing and defence), construction,dredging, military activities as well as seismic surveys. Each of these sources, whether naturalor anthropogenic, has different frequencies and intensities in the marine environment.

Since sound is common in the marine environment, animals have evolved strategies to use sound and manage successfully in sound-filled environments. Potential impact, if any, of a specific sound depends on its characteristics, the species receiving the sound and other characteristics of the marine environment.

Sound characteristics (see inset overleaf) include how loud a sound is perceived, the duration and sound type, whether the sound is considered impulsive (transient) or continuous (ongoing) and the sound’s frequency (pitch).

A seismic acoustic source array emits a sound that lasts less than 0.1 second. It is typically repeated every 10 to 15 seconds as the seismic vessel moves along a straight ‘data acquisition’ line at a speed of about 5 knots for many kilometres. After which the vessel will move to another acquisition line and may return to the area many hours later.

IOGP/AAGC Seismic Surveys and Marine Mammals

..

WHY DO WHALES BEACH THEMSELVES?

When it comes to why whales beach themselves scientists haven’t been able to find a clear answer but have had many speculations and ideas as to why this may occur.

Whales beaching themselves have been recorded throughout history.

In fact historical records indicate that whales have been beaching themselves since at least 300 B.C., however scientists are discovering that whale stranding’s appear to be occurring more frequently and in larger numbers than previously known and while scientists are unclear as to whether this increase in numbers is simply due to more people reporting stranding’s or because the number of stranding’s has actually increased due to human factors it has raised some concerns in the eyes of marine biologists, activists and whale lovers.

[…]

While no definite answer can be given as to the cause of whale beaching’s and whether or not they are actually increasing in recent times we can assume that at least some of these concepts and ideas may be contributing to the cause of whale beaching’s.

Below you can find several possible causes that may contribute to the beaching of whales.

12 POSSIBLE REASONS WHY WHALES BEACH THEMSELVES

1) Injuries from collisions with boats, ships and other man-made aquatic machines.

[…]

2) Water pollution

[…]

3) Confusion due to man-made sonar

Some biologists and scientists speculate that whales may become disoriented, sick and confused by the use of man-made sonar which may interfere with a whales brainwaves or use of echolocation causing the whale to lose its sense of direction and beach itself.

[…]

4) Natural diseases

[…]

5) Attacks from sharks or other marine mammals

[…]

6) Poison from various aquatic species

[…]

7) Changes or abnormalities in the earths magnetic field

[…]

8) Pneumonia

[…]

9) Traumas caused by various aquatic elements in the environment

[…]

10) Changes in the weather and ocean caused by global warming

[…]

11) The whale has already died

[…]

12) Following the pack

[…]

Whale Facts

Conspicuously absent from the list are marine seismic surveys. Sonar is the closest match: “Some biologists and scientists speculate that whales may become disoriented, sick and confused by the use of man-made sonar.” I like how they differentiate biologists from scientists. Like sonar, some biologists speculate that marine airguns may cause whale beachings, despite a total lack of evidence.

6. STRANDING AND MORTALITY

Marine mammals close to underwater detonations of high explosive can be killed or severely injured, and the auditory organs are especially susceptible to injury (Ketten et al., 1993; Ketten, 1995). Airgun pulses are less energetic and their peak amplitudes have slower rise times. To date, there is no evidence that serious injury, death, or stranding by marine mammals can occur from exposure to airgun pulses, even in the case of large airgun arrays. Additionally, Hilcorp’s project will use low-intensity sonar equipment in shallow water. NMFS does not expect any marine mammals will incur injury or mortality in the shallow waters off Beaufort Sea or strand as a result of the proposed geohazard survey.

Federal Register

And despite this total lack of evidence, marine geophysical contractors take extreme precautions in order to avoid disturbing marine mammals.

In spite of a lack of evidence linking seismic surveys to strandings, geophysical contractors have implemented industry-wide mitigation practices to avoid impacts on marine species. Regulators and seismic surveyors establish a marine mammal exclusion zone before beginning operations, and they hire trained observers with the authority to stop operations if a sensitive species is spotted within the exclusion zone. Operators also gradually ramp up sound emissions and move their vessels slowly, in order to allow marine mammals to move away from the area before full operation begins.

IAGC

Marine Environment

The geophysical industry is committed to conducting offshore activities in an environmentally responsible manner, including compliance with mitigation and monitoring guidelines and regulations. More than four decades of worldwide seismic surveying and various scientific research indicate that the risk of direct physical injury to marine mammals is extremely low. In addition, there is no scientific evidence that demonstrates biologically significant negative impacts on marine life populations. Nevertheless, the members of the International Association of Geophysical Contractors (IAGC) support measures that are proportionate to the potential risk and based on the best available science to minimize any potential impact of their operations.

IAGC

Mitigation and monitoring must be proportionate to the potential risks identified by an environmental assessment and specific to the local environment and the operation being undertaken. Measures commonly used by the seismic industry include timing seismic surveys to avoid known areas of biological significance, such as whale foraging or breeding areas or avoiding seasonal marine life occurrences such as peak whale and dolphin activity seasons or migration.

Before a seismic operation begins, visual monitoring is undertaken to check for the presence of marine mammals and other marine species within a specified precautionary, or exclusion zone, often using dedicated marine mammal observers (MMOs) or protected species observers (PSOs).

Further monitoring may be done using passive acoustic monitoring technology (PAM), which may detect vocalizing marine animals, especially during low visibility and nighttime conditions. In the event marine animals are detected in the exclusion zone, seismic operation will not begin for a certain time period until the marine animal moves away. Similarly, a seismic survey will shut down if the marine animal is observed entering the exclusion zone once operations have begun.

Soft-start or ramping-up procedures are undertaken by seismic vessels as a matter of general operational procedure. Soft starts involve activating a small section of the acoustic sound arrays over a period of time, gradually getting louder until the full acoustic array is operating. This measure also allows a marine animal to swim away before the acoustic source is activated at full strength.

IAGC

iagc1

Congressman Rooney: “There is no place in our shallow bays to locate … the numerous offshore supply vessels (OSV’s) and barges supplying the rigs and platforms.”

[…]

There is no place in our shallow bays, full of recreational vessels, to locate the tank farms, docks, steel mooring balls, and other equipment which are necessary to support the numerous offshore supply vessels (OSV’s) and barges supplying the rigs and platforms.  All of this would radically undermine Florida’s coastal ecosystems.

These environmental concerns directly impact Florida’s economy and residents. Our economies depend on tourism, which requires clean beaches and healthy ecosystems.

[…]

Pensacola News Journal

Mr. Rooney, Florida may not have adequate port facilities to support Eastern Gulf of Mexico exploration & production operations, but Mobile, Alabama does.

Most of the recognized oil & gas potential in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico is closer to Mobile than it is to Tampa.

th_82226

EASTERN GULF OF MEXICO-1: A look at regional deposition under W. Florida shelf, slope 01/21/2002. Oil & Gas Journal.

The activity would focus on the Jurassic Norphlet and Smackover plays south of Mobile Bay and the Florida panhandle.   Support operations and shore bases would be located in the Mobile Bay area… because they are already there.

For further reference on the oil & gas plays of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico

Featured Image Source

6676b794-71db-4967-a03c-6bf6e5ff6bb4

US House Committee on Natural Resources. The green areas north of Alaska, Chukchi & Beaufort Seas, were placed off limits late in the Obama maladministration.

About the Author

David Middleton works for the evil oil industry.  He has 36 years of experience as a geologist/geophysicist working for “Little Oil” (as opposed to Big Oil).  He is a member of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG), American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and Houston Geological Society (HGS).

Addendum

The Norphlet Play is the perfect example of offshore drilling not having to be a a “fit for Florida.”

Norphlet

Norphlet Play Map (BOEM) and significant activity (GeoExpro).

The first offshore discovery in the Jurassic Norphlet sandstone was made by Mobil Oil Company in 1979.  As of 2010, Norphlet fields in the Mobile Bay area had produced 4.5 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas.  Chevron and Murphy Oil made a Norphlet discovery in Federal waters of Destin Dome area offshore Florida in 1985; however the State of Florida prevented them  from developing it.  A total of three wells were drilled.   The subsequent moratorium has prevented the development of this field for 32 years.  The leases (Destin Dome blocks 56 and 57) are still held through a “suspension of operations” (SOO) agreement until 2022.

Shell extended the Norphlet play out into deepwater with its Shiloh discovery in 2003.   Shiloh turned out to be non-commercial; but Shell followed it up with a series of commercial oil discoveries they are currently developing.  As you can see on the map.  Most of the Norphlet play is “off limits,” despite the fact that its development would have no more negative impact on Florida than the Norphlet activity just to the west of the “off limits” line.  For that matter, Florida would actually share in the royalty revenues generated from the production.

 

 

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69 thoughts on ““Offshore drilling is not a fit for Florida”… It doesn’t have to fit in Florida.

  1. The organized greens are opposed to almost all development (except windmills), so what else is new? As oil and gas actually work, it must be opposed.

  2. My thinking machine asks what happens to the drill holes after the well has played out? Remembering that ‘no longer worth mining’ is not the same thing as ‘completely empty of liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons’.
    Am I wrong to be thinking that these undersea drill holes are plugged up with some kind of cement before being abandoned? And if they are, am I wrong to think that believing this measure will be sufficient to prevent leakage over millennial or geologic time scales is wishful thinking?

    Anyone in that business here that could comment?
    ( I’m not just skeptical about climate).

    • The stuff leaks out now, even without drilling.
      In most cases development ends up reducing the size of the natural seeps.
      PS: As long as the seepage is low, nature cleans it up on it’s own. Bacteria love the stuff.

    • Unqualified expert here, but if the natural pressure from below has been reduced, won’t the amount of seepage also go down? I should think if there was sufficient pressure at the well head to push significant volumes of oil out, they would still be pumping the stuff.

      Living and working near the Santa Barbara Channel, when I was a kid you couldn’t walk on the beach without your feet getting covered in tar. Flying over the water, one could see the oil sheen on the water. With all the years of extraction, the amount of tar on the beaches has gone down.

  3. I don’t get it. Does Mr. Rooney think that lifting the moratorium is going to turn the eastern bay into a oceanic equivalent of Los Angeles? All congested and polluted and ugly? Surely there’s more to this opposition that a poorly cited complaint about defense readiness and tourism…

    rip

  4. Rooney doesn’t want the moratorium lifted because that would not help oil prices. The world already has all the oil production it currently needs, so calling this area a strategic reserve wouldn’t be the worst idea.

  5. Excerpt from above: “With all due respect to Congressman Rooney, he’s wrong about almost everything.”

    Does NOT matter. Congressman Rooney could NOT care less. His primary concern is REELECTION; where ALL other concerns are a DISTANT tertiary priority. He is simply telling his constituents what they want to hear … so that they will KNOW TO VOTE FOR HIM.

    Dave, I/we appreciate your efforts — personally, I am a very small oil producer and am very much receptive to your general arguments — but, respectfully, at this moment in our history, may I suggest picking some other battle?

    In view of his FL voting constituents — LEGAL and/or otherwise — how does one argue — politically and successfully — against someone like Rooney?

    – Advocate, in any way, shape or form, for the EVIL oil companies?
    – Tell the [overall] rich westerners — citizens of the State of Florida — that, it’s not good enough that they can just pay to import, from some other region/state, ALL of their petro-product needs?
    – Tell the citizens of FL that they MUST expose their “pristine” shoreline eco-system, as well as the State tourist dollars, to the evils of the enviro-rapers of “oil bidness”?
    – How does one win an argument — in the eye of the average voter — when there are enviro-whackos, all over the media, screaming that any and all seismic efforts are going to send all of the whales, and whatever else, to an excruciatingly painful early death?

    I do not know which is the steeper hill to climb: electing a Republican representative in NYC, San Fransisco or etc, or, having the people of FL vote for opening their offshore to oil E&P.

    I wish you luck, and, again, applaud your efforts … but, I suggest your good and noble efforts can be used, much more effectively, elsewhere.

    • Mr. Rooney was right about one thing…

      The four or five counties which consistently deliver high vote totals for Republican candidates, including for President Trump in 2016, are also the most united and vociferously opposed to offshore drilling.

      They are also probably just as misinformed about offshore E&P activities as Mr. Rooney is.

  6. only government could make an area off limits….that is directly down stream from one of the largest in the world

    half the state of Florida was declaring damages from Horizon….even though it was natural seeps and had nothing to do with Horizon

    • After the Horizon incident, unwarranted hysteria prevailed all over Florida about offshore drilling. For an elected official in FL to support offshore drilling would be a political death sentence, no matter the party. Rooney’s position is unfortunate but a political fact of life.

  7. Please don’t ever leave us David. I cannot find the words to explain this delicious feeling I get when you hand these asshats their real glutei maximi.

    • Indeed. As always, David, your posts make delicious reading. Even if Congressman Rooney is likely a lost cause. Maybe his constituents aren’t?

  8. Francis Rooney should simply say he does not like XYZ, or whatever.
    In the same sense that I don’t like the color ‘puce’; one really does not need to give a long explanation that is not fact based.
    With his “national security” issue, I knew he was bloviating like a tiny tea kettle.

  9. Starting out my professional life I spent time in the Eastern Gulf on a state research vessel conducting a benthic biological survey from the Alabama-Florida line to Tarpon Springs. The research vessel also participated in other activities while I was on board, including two Gulf wide oceanographic “synoptic” cruises. This was all in the early 1970s. We crossed paths with a lot of seismic vessel conducting surveys across the entire West Florida Shelf. The Navy also conducted their own “big bang” surveys on a regular basis. Idea being to estimate the thermal structure of the oceans for submarine warfare. We never saw any dead animals after either such surveys. I did assist in autopsying several whales all of which died of natural causes; after all whales are not immortal. Later in the 1970s I was picked to give Florida’s official position statement at MMS and DOE public hearings on offshore mineral and oil and gas exploration. Basically the state’s position was hell no, not now, not ever. In the last position paper I read into the official record a great deal of it was about Florida’s tourist industry. Since we had just gone through several “energy crises” I found this position more than ironic. Driving back across the state to my office it came to me this was a very stupid position for Florida. People do not walk to Florida nor do they drive solar cars. They came by some form of fossil fuel burning vehicle. Of course the whole reason for saying no was based on the outside chance there might be a catastrophic oil spill from any drilling that would impact the beaches and inshore habitat. While such a spill would be temporarily catastrophic, it would ultimate go away. No fuel for vehicles and airplanes or at a much higher cost would be a long term problem. Appreciate during Deepwater Horizon there were government biologists claiming that oil had reached Florida Bay and the Keys almost before it had reached Louisiana. Of course it hadn’t. Look up sometime how many tankers were torpedoes by the Germans during World War II in the Gulf and Caribbean. The amount of oil spilled was impressive. As the East Coast beaches have eroded that old crude, now turned to tar, is exposed.

    • Interesting—I got asked by a former neighbor from Louisiana right after the spill–sent back one word–BIODEGRADABLE. This came partly from knowing about a study just after WWII, but you still have to go into a real library to find much of it. Also there are second-hand reports about torpedoed survivors making it to Grand Isle covered with oil. A lot torpedoed was more toxic than crude oil. The comments from “experts” after the spill didn’t help the credibility of oceanographers much. A lot knew better, but not the media or the political class.

      I would not use that site for much evidence.
      “9) Traumas caused by various aquatic elements in the environment
      While whales generally have a good sense of direction and are excellent swimmers there are some instances when a whale may collide with a large natural element (ie: a large rock) in its environment causing it to become injured and disoriented.”

      Rocks are so rare in the Gulf of Mexico that an old sediment survey found none (Hayes, M. O. 1967. Relationship between coastal climate and bottom sediment type on the inner continental shelf. Marine Geology. 5:111-132), but it was only 21 transects on the inner shelf. While the ocean is a difficult place to live, I never saw a dead cetacean with a head injury. Whale soccer would be worse, hard to fit a helmet, but maybe some do run head-on into boats. They do get stopped up with nematodes and even (at least once) eels, which must make it hard to echo-locate

      This one ain’t very bright either
      “10) Changes in the weather and ocean caused by global warming
      A common topic discussed today is global warming and its impact on the earth.
      Changes in the tides, melting icebergs and shifting food sources such as fish may force whales to relocate and wander off course causing them to swim into shallow waters or possibly even beach themselves.”

      A big whale swam all the way into Corpus Christi Bay a few years ago, said – oops never mind. They must have 3-D printers (or better) in their brain.

      .The old dynamite seismic work did kill a little, but even oysters were tough.

      • You can check on the web by searching ships torpedoed by Germany during WWII in the Gulf and Caribbean. I had several sites marked but that was on my last computer that got nailed by lightning.

    • It’s the US Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). States control out to 3 miles from shore. The Fed’s control everything else out to the limit of the EEZ. Among other things, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) of 2006 “bans oil and gas leasing within 125 miles off the Florida coastline in the Eastern Planning Area, and a portion of the Central Planning Area, until 2022.”

      https://www.boem.gov/Revenue-Sharing/

      • In the Gulf of Mexico Florida state waters extend to 12 miles not just three. While the state certainly doesn’t have the power to regulate exploration outside 12 miles being the 4th largest state certainly gives it political power enough to sway opinions of bureaucrats that don’t want to drill. Congress is another question altogether. Interestingly fishing is a huge industry in Florida. Oil rigs are giant artificial reefs. In fact off Louisiana they have a program to convert old rigs into reefs for fishing. A program greatly supported by fishermen.

      • It varies…

        The Submerged Lands Act (SLA) of 1953 grants individual States rights to the natural resources of submerged lands from the coastline to no more than 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) into the Atlantic, Pacific, the Arctic Oceans, and the Gulf of Mexico. The only exceptions are Texas and the west coast of Florida, where State jurisdiction extends from the coastline to no more than 3 marine leagues (16.2 km) into the Gulf of Mexico.

        https://www.boem.gov/Federal-Offshore-Lands/

  10. I would be worried if the US military was stymied by a few surface activities on the ocean. Surely they ought to training their staff to operate under such conditions?

    • During one AF air show years ago (ca late 1980s, I was in an ARCO tower, and it seemed pretty clear the F15s were lined up on ARCO Tower for a number of passes. I can’t help feel someones itched for that Blue Thunder moment (simulated missile hit on LA ARCO tower, early 80s movie)

  11. Since Rooney’s opposition is offered solely in the interest retaining support of the ‘greens’ (enhancing his own ‘insider’ self-interest i.e. incumbency), it’s probable that he simply left the drafting of his statement to them. Quid pro quo! Office holders are way, way too busy to do much more than read this stuff before autographing it, let alone write it, regardless of any qualification they may have to do so.

  12. Bring in the practical French solution where the locals benefit more than the common (Federal) fund. That is the formula where French households enjoy greatly reduced electricity rates in concentric zones around nuclear power plants. The Americans have no such common sense for local buy in and are now about to sweep all mineral and timber revenue from federal lands and seas to federal budgets and debt where no none has any buy in.

  13. First, I am a strong skeptic concerning AGW and live in Pensacola, FL but I suggest a step back from opening the eastern Gulf to unlimited drilling. The Deepwater Horizon event in 2010 remains fresh in our minds and caused extensive economic and environmental harm to an area that depends on tourism (and the military) for our economy. I saw it firsthand. No, its not an everyday event and, yes, the area has recovered to a large extent and those involved have paid billions in fines and damages. However, some businesses did not recover, the environment has not fully recovered, and some people lost their lives. We recover from hurricanes but its much better not to have the experience! Remember, that event went on for months because that well was not at the surface on land but was thousands of feet below the sea.

    The military can speak for itself but they do need a large area without obstructions for training purposes.

    Now, a time may come when the resources in the eastern Gulf are necessary for our country’s well-being and if that time has come, then fine. But, I think not. Not yet.

    (Anthony, I love your site since finding it some years ago and spread its name continually!)

    • My Dad’s family is from the Palatka area.

      My wife and I actually visited Pensacola the week after the capped the blowout. And yes, Florida did suffer a lot of economic damage to its tourism industry, But that was almost entirely due to hype about the spill.

      We hired a boat to tour the coastline. The owner of the boat said it was his worst season ever, apart from a brief period when BP hired just about every boat in town when a slick was spotted not too far offshore.

      During our week in Pensacola, we say clean up crews sitting under tarps, at BP’s expense. We saw the same thing in Biloxi and Gulfport on our way home.

      Pensacola is a beautiful city, The Naval Aviation Museum is awesome. The beaches are fantastic.

      From April through July 2010, the blowout spilled an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  By mid-July, the well was capped.  By August, most of the oil was gone… Either recovered by clean up procedures, evaporated, burned and/or consumed by microbes.

      Just prior to the Macondo blowout, this was on the MMS (now BOEM) website:

      Since 1980, OCS operators have produced 4.7 billion barrels (bbl) of oil and spilled only 0.001 percent of this oil, or 1 bbl for every 81,000 bbl produced. In the last 15 years, there have been no spills greater than 1,000 bbl from an OCS platform or drilling rig. The spill risk related to a diesel spill from drilling operations is even less. During the 10-year period (1976-1985) in which data were collected, there were 80 reported diesel spills greater than one barrel associated with drilling activities, compared with 11,944 wells drilled, or a 0.7 percent probability of occurrence. For diesel spills greater than 50 bbls, only 15 spills have occurred, or a 0.1 percent probability.

      Natural seepage of oil in the Gulf of Mexico (unrelated to natural gas and oil industry operations) is far more extensive. Researchers have estimated a natural seepage rate of about 120,000 bbl per year from one area (23,000 square kilometers) offshore of Louisiana.

      U.S. Minerals Management Service ca April 2010

      This passage disappeared from the website shortly after the blowout.

      Of the nearly 53,000 wells drilled in the Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico since 1947, there has been one Macondo.

      Relative to the number of wells drilled and volume of hydrocarbons produced, the volume of oil spilled in the history of oil & gas drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico has been minuscule.

      Having trouble seeing the spills? Here’s a plot of just the spills and natural seepage estimate:


      Oil spills and natural seeps (note y-axis is logarithmic).

      Putting Macondo into perspective is in no way meant to diminish this terrible tragedy. Eleven men died in this disaster. However, our government’s reaction to it was, in itself, a disaster. Thirty three rigs that were drilling in deepwater were forced to shut down and temporarily abandon the wells they were drilling. This created an even greater accident risk than allowing them to complete the wells they were drilling. The Obama administration’s unlawful drilling moratorium and subsequent “permitorium,” led to the loss of over 200,000 bbl/day of oil production from 2010-2015:

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/10/20/deepwater-horizon-epillog/

      No one is talking about unlimited drilling offshore Florida. Virtually all of the activities would be carried out almost as far from the Florida coast as current production in Mobbile Bay, Mississippi Canyon and Desoto Canyon. The operations would almost certainly be conducted out of the Mobile Bay area – which is already a center of oil & gas operations.

      Does this map make sense?

      The Norphlett fields in the Mobile Bay area have produced 4.5 TCF of gas. Shell’s deepwater Norphlet discoveries total about 1.3 billion barrels of oil.

      The gas 1985 gas discovery in Destin Dome cannot be developed. Shell’s Norphlet discoveries can’t be pursued across the border.

  14. David, I knew you would be able to describe the Deepwater Horizon event better than me because of your background (and, by the way, I have appreciated many of your other writings on WUWT). You are correct that Pensacola and the northern Gulf coast are beautiful areas (and relatively undiscovered) and so are the more known areas of the Peninsula’s coastal areas. My point is that our area, including all of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana have a psychological hill to climb regarding drilling and that is reflected in our representatives statements in addition to at least some of the motivations listed by you and others.

    I am a biologist (which is why I am a skeptic as I was taught how to analyze data decades ago and to look for rats in the woodpile in “Materials and Methods”) but my niche has been industrial water management for corrosion, deposition and biological control in boilers, cooling towers, airwashers and influent/effluent streams. I’ve worked closely with a variety of businesses to manage their water systems and I can say they were all intent on stressing safety and protecting the environment. I am certain that future drillers everywhere will be even more intent because of DH.

    As I said, if we need it, go get it! But carefully, thoughtfully, maybe with a little trepidation.

    • Macondo reinforced the need to do everything “carefully, thoughtfully, maybe with a little trepidation” in a most awful way.

  15. From the article: “In addition, there are many man-made (anthropogenic) sources of sound in the ocean. Theseinclude shipping, fishing, sonar (used for navigation, fishing and defence), construction,dredging, military activities as well as seismic surveys. Each of these sources, whether naturalor anthropogenic, has different frequencies and intensities in the marine environment.”

    We should also include off-shore windmills as a source of sound in the oceans.

  16. A little addendum, that “psychological hill” is steeper as one travel’s east because the central to western Gulf areas have a longer history and economy with the oil industry. I have worked in refineries, gas processing and petrochemical plants in in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Louisiana and have seen their impacts on the local economies. Florida has some facilities in gas production/processing as well as chemical/petrochemical plants but tourism and the military are the largest economic contributors.

      • Yep. Before I retired, I traveled through that area several times per week but had no business in that field as my focus was on other businesses in the area including LA (Lower Alabama). I’m not 100% certain if it applies to the Jay area but the shift to more efficient cryogenic plants reduced employment in the gas processing industry and I think that includes Jay. You would likely know better.

      • I just find the stuff and I haven’t worked the Smackover since 1988. Gas processing plants aren’t my realm. More efficient processing of the sour gas was probably less of a factor than declining production. I think Jay is down to less than 2,000 bbl/d now. But it was a big field… 500 million bbl if I remember correctly.

    • And… I recommend Pensacola as a tourist destination to anyone who will listen to me. The Naval Aviation Museum, all by itself, is worth the trip.

      • And another “yep”. The Musuem is world class, free unless you wish to give a donation and takes more than a day to take in. Includes an IMAX theatre. But, it is aboard Pensacola NAS so no weapons! Battleship Park, which is home to the USS Alabama, a submarine and aircraft, is nearby in Mobile Bay and The Air Force Armament Musuem is to the east at Eglin Air Force Base. Hurlburt Field, a Special Operations Base is east of us as well but doubt you can get in there! Lots of tourism, lots of Military and lots the combination in the Panhandle. And, of course, the white “Sugar Sand” beaches, clear waters and fishing are here, as well. David, thanks for the advertisement!

      • We hit Battleship Park on our way back to Dallas. Not as slick as Pensacola NAS, but well-worth the visit.

        Hurlburt would be way cool!

        (I’m a military history nut).

    • “Florida has some facilities in gas production/processing as well as chemical/petrochemical plants but tourism and the military are the largest economic contributors.” Yet the dirty little secret is tourism is a good way to starve to death, it is mostly low wage jobs. Another way the elites keep the little people in their place.

  17. The Greens oppose offshore oil and gas exploration but would be quite happy to fill the offshore area up with unsightly, noisy, bird and bat chomping wind-turbines. Oil and Gas are economic and produce energy, wind-turbines simply comsume tax-payer funding.

  18. California and Florida are Mickey Mouse. We need a new kind of tourism. One that focuses on the beauty of working hard and productivity. I love the ocean and mountains but a wheat and cornfield being harvested is also a thing of beauty.

    We were stopped at a wildlife viewing area west of the continental divide in Colorado. Even with field glasses, did not see any wildlife. Looking across the valley there was interesting strip mine redefining the top of a mountain.

    I am particularly irritated when hear opposition to something because it might hurt tourism but without it there would be tourism.

    Then there is the grandfather/grandson stories. They go like this: I remember when my grandfather took me to (insert place). I took my grandson to (insert place) and it had all changed.

    One version I heard involved salmon, dams, and a native American storyteller. Biting my tongue, I did not interrupt by telling my story. My parents were born in Akron, Ohio. That ugly air quality city where the tires you take for granted came from.

    Christopher Houston Carson, aka Kit Carson, did not travel by car, and never has electricity. Today, energy frees us from the slavery of muscle power. Today’s mountain men are looking for oil, gas, and coal. Just do not look for it where Mickey Mouse lives.

  19. These waters will not remain undrilled for perpetuity. Just like the curves of a supply and demand chart, there is also curves for realism vs greenism. Once the price of oil hits a new all time high, the citizens of these states are introduced to a new point on the realism curve. As the price reaches a point that effects the voters pocket books, they shift their position on drilling.

  20. Rule 1: Almost everything a politician says is a lie or probably not strictly true. It is related to being re-elected, nothing else.
    Rule 2: See rule 1

    “Say whatever the rubes wanna hear” is the political rule theses days. Sigh. The proles will probably just re-elect this guy.

  21. In Australia we applied for three areas of exploration licences for mineral exploration in the usual routine way. These can cover large areas, some thousands of sq km. All three went through objection processes and ended up becoming national parks, then world heritage listed, so we were shut out of both expenditure to date and expectations of new mines.
    Despite the United Nations world heritage labels, two of the areas or their border lands were promptly made into military training areas with provision for live bombing.
    Of course we objected, but this cost a lot and merely demonstrated a political will that was determined to dominate us and our free enterprise success elsewhere. Geoff.

      • Or Gilbert and Sullivan. But they were comedy. The telling point was that the parks were created over our exploration areas, when there was abundant similar land for parks nearby. Geoff.

  22. Most of the opposition to drilling in the United States and its territorial waters is being funded by the Russians and the Arabs. Both of those parties are our enemies. The most effective thing we could do to undermine Russian Imperialism and Arab terrorism is to develop our own petroleum resources and become the world’s leading supplier of oil. Bankrupting the Russians and the Arabs would bring us peace and prosperity.

  23. Like David, I am a scarred vet of the oil patch. No one I know in the oil biz ever called seismic data acquisition and interpretation “seismic testing”. If ya can’t even use the buzz words correctly ya should keep the pie hole shut.

    Tom Bakewell, sorta-retired geophusicist

      • I wondered about that when I saw the movie. It just didn’t sound like English phrasing. The phrase makes me imagine a log book being tested. A “test log” sounds more likely.

        SR

      • A cement bond log is a sonic instrument that is lowered into the borehole on a wireline. It is used to measure the integrity of a cement bond.

        A test is when you either briefly allow the well to flow or alter the pressure in the borehole and measure the response. The negative pressure test was an attempt to test the integrity of the cement bond. The misinterpretation of this test was the proximal cause of the blowout.

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