Where to Drill First

Those who favor outsourcing our energy production generally argue that there is no point in opening up domestic drilling, since it would take many years before oil actually begins to flow. In some cases, it will indeed take a considerable time, although this problem is mostly self-inflicted: the delay will result more from regulatory hurdles and litigation than from the time it takes to build platforms, pipelines, and so on.

But there are areas where, if Congress acts to remove existing bans on drilling, oil could be flowing in a matter of months, not years. Foremost on this list is oil off the coast of California. We asked Dan Kish, Senior Vice President, Policy, at the Institute for Energy Research to comment. This is what he told us:

For oil, California is the quickest relief. Existing platforms there would allow access to some of the leases companies paid $1.1 billion for in 1981, but have been precluded from developing for 26 years. California is the nation’s largest consumer of gasoline, so it could go directly to their extensive refinery network, also. The estimates are that 10 billion barrels exist off the coast of California, and tankers full of imported oil and Alaska North Slope oil go through those protected waters every day.

Santa Barbara is also home to one of the largest oil seep trends ever observed, and in one small area 100 bbls per day seep to the surface, except around an existing producing platform that releases the pressure causing the seeps. 100% of the oil on the beaches in Santa Barbara county, and 50% of the oil on the beaches of LA County are caused by Santa Barbara’s seeps. The local group Stop Oil Seeps advocates drilling there to improve the environment.

Off California, oil could be flowing in less than a year. For us to send hundreds of billions of dollars overseas, so that Venezuelans, Nigerians, Russians, Saudis, Canadians and Mexicans can do the high-paying jobs that hundreds of thousands of Americans would be delighted to do, is insane.

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