Saturday, July 24, 2010

Why drilling in American waters is good for the environment

As much as I despise big oil survives for it reliance on government transportation policies and not market forces, all things equal, I think it's best for the environment to drill in American waters. Why? Because if you don't, things like this happen:

BP will start deep-water drilling off the coast of Libya within weeks in spite of concerns about the UK group’s environmental and safety record after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. [...]

Barack Obama’s imposition of a moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has highlighted the growing importance of new exploration across the Mediterranean. Diamond Offshore, a US deep-water driller, is moving a rig from the Gulf of Mexico to Egypt, while Australia’s APX started drilling last week between Tunisia and Italy. Shell plans to start exploring soon off western Sicily.

Italy has speeded up its procedures and granted 21 new exploration permits. New limits imposed on near-shore drilling in response to the Gulf of Mexico spill apply only to future operations and barely affect the most promising areas off Sicily.

With cash-strapped governments courting Libya’s oil-fuelled sovereign wealth funds, countries such as Italy, Greece and Malta – all within a radius of 500km (310 miles) of the Gulf of Sirte – have refrained from commenting on Libya’s plans.

However, environmentalists and politicians have expressed concerns. A proposal by Günther Oettinger, Europe’s energy commissioner, for a moratorium on deep-water drilling in European Union waters failed to get a response from Mediterranean states.

If a rig like Deepwater Horizon exploded and started spewing oil off the coast of Libya, I doubt it would be contained within three months. Apparently oil has been leaking into the Niger Delta for decades and shows no signs of slowing. It's possible that environmentally-minded northern EU countries would step in and force Gaddafi and Berlusconi to take an oil spill seriously, but if BP thought that way, I'm not sure they would have bothered moving.

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