Offshore Exploration/Drilling Would Create Jobs

Offshore Exploration/Drilling Would Create Jobs



While attending the Offshore Technology Conference earlier this week (on sponsorship by the American Petroleum Institute), one truth became very apparent: opening up the outer continental shelf to oil and gas exploration would create a lot of jobs.

Right now, our government is spending hundreds of billions in an effort to revitalize the economy, but President Obama has extended the “public comment period” on OCS exploration/drilling until later this year, preventing any movement forward in that sector. The message is pretty clear: all jobs are not equal. Ideologically, this might make sense, but from a practical standpoint – with our need for jobs and for future energy sources – shouldn’t we proceed with exploration sooner rather than later?

According to the API, the industry employs 1.8 million Americans directly and supports another 4 million jobs in ancillary industries. Furthermore, wages for exploration and production jobs are double the national average. Better yet, creating more of these jobs would cost the nation nothing – in fact,ICF International estimated for the API that currently untapped offshore oil and gas resources could generate $1.3 trillion in government revenue over the life of those resources.

Even if the numbers above are overstated, it’s surprising how little attention offshore exploration and drilling has received during discussions on how to improve the economy. For various reasons, some of our leaders have a reflexive dislike of the oil and gas industry. But there is no reason why we can’t pump money and efforts into renewable energy and “green” jobs even while we create jobs in oil and gas (and help generate a bit more energy security in the process).

In my mind, offshore exploration and drilling should be one prong in our multi-pronged approach to both job creation and energy policy.

  • TerenceC

    It may generate jobs, but it’s still a temporary solution at best to a systemic problem in the USA. The long term viability of our economy and our country are contingent upon finding alternative energy sources to petroleum products. We need to use less of what we have, and re-build an economy that isn’t based on Oil. Our economy has been petroleum based for nearly 100 years. Our oil dependency is one of the major reasons we are so militaristically involved in the Middle East, as well as a main contributor for the disdain in which we are held all over that region. Drill baby drill is no longer a practical solution at all – it only prolongs the problems and makes a better solution that much more elusive, while forcing us to maintain a military infrastructure that bleeds our country more every year.

  • kranky kritter

    But Alan, think of the children!

    Terry, temporary in what sense? Surely not in the “therefore we can simply dismiss it as useful or important” sense.

    We’re not going to run out of oil any time soon, not based on known reserves. I am fine with making a transition simply because we know that oil resources are finite. But it strains my credulity to suggest we ought not to ensure adequate resources for current needs when we have not yet come up with a comprehensively viable alternative available at anything resembling a comparable cost.

    Our oil dependency is one of the major reasons we are so militaristically involved in the Middle East, as well as a main contributor for the disdain in which we are held all over that region.

    Um, wouldn’t that be a strong argument in favor of offshore drilling, since we are talking about augmenting our domestic supply?

    Here’s the thing: it makes sense BOTH to devote more resources to alternative fuels _AND_ to pursue extraction of available resources. IF we don’t so that, and other nations do, we voluntarily put our nation at a disadvantage. For example, every time that we pay a few pennies more for a gallon of gas that includes x percent ethanol which costs more per gallon than gasoline _AND_ includes less energy. I know that every time I fill my talk I ask myself whether we are doing any real good, or just making some folks feel better.

    Every gallon of fossil fuel we don’t use is just one gallon that can be bought by China or some other less scrupulous nation for a few pennies less.

  • TerenceC


    I’m not advocating not doing it, I actually think we’re in agreement on that point – my comments are focused on zero dollars to the drillers since they’ll figure out a way to pay for it if they can make a profit. Meanwhile full concentration, and maximum financial support should be given to those areas in our economy that can develop alternative energy sources as we no longer support and under write the oil companies.

    Just because we drill in American waters doesn’t mean that oil comes to us – it will be shipped to the area that allows for the greatest profit – do you think Alaskan oil is used solely in the US? Oil is sold as a global commodity and it will continue to be whether we drill or not. If the oil companies make more money shipping the oil to Europe and off set that by importing cheaper oil from somewhere else they can and will.

  • ascap_scab

    Okay, I’ll go with your premise that more drilling means more jobs and that more oil is better than nothing. I have a few other questions for your friends.

    I have heard that all of the rigs capable of doing the job are already booked for the next five years and even if one was to build new ships, it would take three to five years before they could be launched. Is this true and if so, with current oil prices so low, can new ships/drilling be profitable?? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to restart idled land-based wells, that I see all the time, than to drill new wells offshore??

    If a beach resort’s view is ruined by unsightly offshore rigs, should those businesses be compensated for lost business??

    Eventually, we all know there will be oil spills, whether caused by nature or man. We also know that oil spills in open water are particularly problematic. Who should pay for the cleanup when we know what happened with the Exxon Valdez?? Is this another case of Private profits and Public liabilities??

  • RD

    Offshore oil drilling would have a positive impact on our economy. The notion that America’s domestic supply of oil must remain off limits as we run a massive trade deficit (in part due to importing foreign oil) is absurd. I am all in favor of expanding nuclear power and developing wind, solar and biofuels but offshore exploration simply makes sense.

  • Jesse James

    I am definately in favor on ongoing oil exploration as a means to get the US less dependent on the world’s oil supply.

    Thanks for talking about it.