Going seismic off the Atlantic Coast


The Trump Administration ’s decision to allow seismic testing off Delaware and other areas of the Atlantic Coast seems certain to kick off a battle.

The first shot was fired earlier this year when the administration reversed an earlier decision to ban drilling.

Delaware fired back earlier this year with a drilling ban on the three-mile that is under their control.

At this point, a little historical perspective is useful.

Due to national security and other concerns, the Obama Administration was not against offshore drilling. The prevailing wisdom seemed to indicate that the nation was running out of oil and technology had cut the risks.

Then came the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Enthusiasm for drilling wavered depending on the price at the pump, although it appears that opposition in Delaware continued to harden. Tourism became an increasingly important part of the economy, especially in Coastal Sussex County.

Along the way, vast deposits of gas and oil were discovered in Pennsylvania, North Dakota and the Permian Basin of Texas and a portion of New Mexico.

Next came the “drill baby drill” enthusiasm of the Trump administration and a decision to allow exploration off the coasts.

Like Delaware, the Sunshine State can point to its tourism industry as a reason for not allowing oil rigs. Voters in Florida last monthapproved a constitutional amendment banning drilling in state waters. There is nervousness that the current Gulf of Mexico drilling banoff Florida could be reversed.

Earlier exploration efforts in the Atlantic have come up with limited prospects in an area extending from Florida to New England, although there is a modest chance that new technology could change that outlook.

A Delaware Geological Survey reportsays the vast Baltimore Canyon area well off the coast of Delaware might have natural gas potential, with oil less likely.

A colleague at one of my previous newspaper jobs and a savvy investor to boot offered the following back in the ‘80s – there isnothing wrong with imported oil. If reserves exist here and some nation gets mad at us, we can go back and drill.

I agree. It is hard to make a case for the disruption given thelow odds of finding hydrocarbons,and the growing ability to tap renewable sources (wind power) off the coast.

One sign of the overall prospects would come if any oil company is actually interested in seismic testing.

As my Tennessee-born mother would say are you for or “agin” offshore drilling?Hit return on this message and type away. Unlike some news websites, your thoughts do not go to an unmonitored mailbox.

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Happy Hanukkah. –Doug Rainey, publisher.

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