The oil spill resulting from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico is more than an environmental disaster–it’s a clear signal that our dependency on oil has reached a critical breaking point.
The spectacle of the disaster, and the wrangling over who’s to blame for it, are distracting us from the serious discussion we should be having about the future of our energy policy.
Offshore oil production in the Gulf of Mexico accounts for about 30% of U.S. domestic oil production, and 10% of total U.S. supply. If we shut it down, our dependency on oil imports would rise from about two-thirds of our supply to over three-quarters. Other than taking vehicles off the road, we currently have no way to do without domestic offshore oil. But continuing to drill offshore will increase the odds of future spills.
If deepwater accidents becomes the “oil wells that end wells,” it will have unintended consequences for our economy that are as destructive as the oil is to the coastal environment. An estimated 500,000 barrels per day of current and future supply–roughly 0.5% of world supply–has already been shut down due to the spill, and the IEA projects the loss could increase to 900,000 barrels per day in 2015.
It’s time for an apolitical, factual discussion about how we intend to navigate a future of relentless demand while supply declines and drilling becomes increasingly risky. In that spirit, we offer these resources for your exploration.
Author and energy expert Chris Nelder puts the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster into perspective against the challenges of energy transition and America’s crushing dependence on oil imports.
Another Wake-Up Call for the World’s Biggest Oil Junkie (Huffington Post)
Author and energy expert Chris Nelder rounds up the data on U.S. oil supply and demand to put the Horizon disaster in perspective. This is only the latest in a series of wake-up calls we’ve received. Are you listening now, America?
Oil production hit for decades after BP spill (The Independent)
Author and energy expert David Strahan warns that a deep sea drilling moratorium will leave global supplies depleted just as demand gets greater.
The Far-Ranging Costs of the Mess in the Gulf (TIME magazine)
We will continue to need domestic oil production in order to ramp up clean energy. We must develop a comprehensive energy plan that recognizes the size and scale of our existing energy system and our dependence on hydrocarbons.
The end of offshore oil drilling? Not a chance (The Globe and Mail)
Energy companies are faced with the reality that new sources of oil are largely limited to ever-deeper water.
Drill Baby Drill-A Second Reality Check (ASPO exclusive)
Author and energy expert Roger Blanchard puts the prospects for U.S. offshore oil production in perspective. More offshore drilling will only slightly decrease the annual decline of U.S. oil production.
Facts and Intel
Oil spill coverage at The Oil Drum
How big is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill? (Google Earth tool by Paul Rademacher)
Gulf Coast Spill – A “crowdsourced” site where anyone can report and share information about the spill, and upload pictures and location data about oil making landfall.
Follow these users on Twitter for timely updates on the spill containment and cleanup efforts.