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November 19, 2009

IER: Technology, Innovation Remains Key to Safe, Increased Offshore Energy Development

November 19, 2009
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Senate panel examines on offshore environmental stewardship; Should focus on unlocking job-creating homegrown energy

Washington, DC – Offshore energy exploration and production in the United States is safe and environmentally sound. Over the past 50 years, the U.S. oil and gas industry has developed innovative, 21st century technologies and exploration techniques that are efficient, pose little threat to the environment, and ensure worker safety.

According to the National Academies of Science, less than 1 percent of the oil found in the North American marine environment comes from oil and gas development. Nearly 60 percent, however, is the result of natural seeps.

Thomas J. Pyle, president of the market-oriented Institute for Energy Research (IER), issued this statement in response to today’s Senate Energy Committee hearing on environmental stewardship and offshore energy production:

“Technology and innovation remains key to delivering more homegrown, job-creating American energy, both onshore and off. The facts and history demonstrate that offshore energy production, with today’s 21st century technologies, poses little to no threat to our marine environment. In fact, marine life actually flourishes in waters shared with energy infrastructure.

“Unfortunately, a de-facto ban on safe, responsible offshore domestic energy development remains in place today, despite the fact that a clear majority of American people want access to the energy that is rightfully theirs. Advanced technologies currently deployed throughout the western Gulf of Mexico – which help deliver huge amounts of energy to keep our economy fueled and moving each day – are testament to the strides made to ensure environmental safety.

“Last summer the American people spoke, and Congress responded when it retired the nearly 30-year ban. It’s time for this administration to unchain the federal government’s stranglehold on so much of our nation’s job-creating energy resources offshore. Slow-walking this commonsense action could make the next energy crisis pale in comparison to the pain of $4 gasoline working families and small businesses felt during the summer of 2008.”

NOTE: Here is brief overview of some of the advanced, 21st century offshore energy exploration technologies:

Advanced 3-D seismic and 4-D time imaging technologies: enable offshore operators to locate oil and gas resources far more accurately to necessitate less drilling and allow greater resource recovery.

Storm chokes: placed on all offshore wells to detect damage to surface valves and shut down production during an emergency.

Blowout preventers: continuously monitor the subsurface and subsea-bed conditions to prepare for unexpected changes in well pressure.

Waste product reuse technology: transforms drill cuttings, a waste product of rock pieces and drilling fluids produced when drilling a well, into raw material for bricks, roads, and even rebuilding Louisiana’s wetlands.

For additional information, please contact Patrick Creighton, 202-621-2947, or Laura Henderson, 202-621-2951.

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