DENNIS SEID: Domestic drilling should still be a priority

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

“Drill, baby, drill” isn’t exactly a popular sentiment at the moment, with millions of gallons of oil threatening the Gulf Coast.
The Deepwater Horizon rig accident has cast a pall over talks of expanding offshore drilling. People rightfully are angry about what happened, or didn’t happen.
And according to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, BP confronted its well contractor Transocean 10 years ago about a blowout preventer, which is designed to prevent oil from spewing out if something goes wrong. It’s the same device that failed in the most recent accident. BP in 2000 had issued a “notice of default” letter to Transocean over problems with the blowout preventer.
Transocean at the time acknowledged that the preventer didn’t work “exactly right.” And the maker of the device, Cameron International, was sued two years ago after a 2007 leak from an offshore Louisiana well.
BP also has had its share of problems in recent years, with a fatal Texas City refinery explosion in 2005 that killed 15, and pipeline leaks in Alaska in 2006 and 2009 that spilled thousands of gallons of oil.
BP has said it will pay for cleanup, even though its payment is capped at $75 million. But it hasn’t been clear about paying other claims, such as lost revenue for fishermen and tourism businesses. But beyond the economic impact is the environmental impact. How do you put a price on that?
Despite this disaster, the U.S. can’t stop drilling for oil – onshore or off.
We didn’t stop building bridges after the terrible bridge collapse three years ago in Minnesota. We don’t stop building – and buying – automobiles because drivers are killed in accidents. We don’t stop flying planes because of a rare crash.
It’s true that we need a comprehensive energy plan that includes greater use of renewable energy sources, like wind and solar. We need to expand our nuclear options – in a good way, of course.
But we won’t be weaning ourselves off oil anytime soon.
For all the talk and legislation requiring higher-mileage vehicles, more mass-transit use and greater conservation, our thirst for oil will remain.
Iran and Venezuela are no friends of the U.S., and perhaps that can be said about our Middle East “allies” as well. Yet we help line their pockets by our purchase of OPEC oil.
Domestic drilling will never replace foreign oil, but it can help reduce our dependence on it.
Oil drilling has been, and will be, a political issue. Proclamations that we must make sure a fatal oil well explosion like this never happens again is rhetoric. Accidents happen, no matter what precautions are taken.
Stricter regulations and enforcement are needed to ensure that such accidents are rare. But from both an economic and security standpoint, we can’t afford to back off plans to expand domestic drilling,
Let’s find out what happened, try to make sure it doesn’t happen again – though it probably will – and get to work on a workable energy plan that includes domestic oil drilling.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.