Please Explain: Off-Shore Oil Drilling

Friday, April 30, 2010

With the recent explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and the oil slick heading toward the shore, on today's Please Explain, we're looking into how offshore drilling is done how much oil might be discovered under the Atlantic now that the Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling. Paul Bommer, Senior Lecturer in the Dept. of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, and Tyler Priest Professor and Director of Global Studies in the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston, and oil historian.


Paul Bommer, and Tyler Priest

Comments [17]

Paul from Glen Cove, NY

This catastrophe brings to question the level of security offshore rigs have. It has yet to be determined what was the cause of the explosion. It also stands to reason that an oil rig would be a target to an enemy of the US.

May. 03 2010 11:27 AM
Paul I. Adujie from New York, New York

American Oil Spillage & Environmental Racism; A Case Of Permanent Double Standards

Would BP have, without nudge, prompting and pressures, voluntarily committed and expended six million dollars a day, for ten days so far, to prevent, stem and curtail the spread of crude oil slick on Nigerian waters in the face of a similar accident, such as the BP oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico?

In Nigeria for instance, giant multinational oil companies are disdainful and contemptuous of the lands, environment, the governments and the people. Foreign oil conglomerates routinely ignores court orders and judgments. The oil majors have been known to ignore congressional hearings and summons by the highest law making body of Nigeria, the National Assembly.

The oil majors are law unto themselves and whenever these oil titans are required to comply with the laws of the land, they resort to using political pressures from their home governments in Amsterdam, London, Paris, Washington etc

There should be a single and uniform standard in precautions taken to avoid oil spillages, oil exploration, prospecting and oil drilling negative environmental impacts. There should, similarly be, a single standard for crisis management methods, procedures, guidelines and rules in tackling the negative environmental impacts and adverse consequences of harvesting hydrocarbon energy and not the least of all these, is equality of resources which are allocated or earmarked for managing environmental disasters or crises, regardless of whether such disasters occurs in Nigeria, Kuwait, Venezuela, Alaska or Louisiana. All lives affected or involved should be accorded equal value and equal dignity and respect.

Apr. 30 2010 02:20 PM
Camille from South Orange

I was the last caller in this segment. As a native New Orleanian, I've started to have the same feelings as I did while the man-made post-Katrina disaster unfolded. I encourge (beg!) you to do a follow-up show on the destruction of the Louisiana wetlands by years of oil company activities--off-shore drilling, pipelines, access roads, etc. Those miles of wetlands clean the water, buffer hurricanes, shelter an incredibly diverse group of species. With the unfathomable profits that the oil companies have been reaping over decades, it is unreasonable that they have not been asked/required to do more in exchange for access to oil on our coastlines. A good reference for the wetlands side of the discussion is the Gulf Restoration Network (
Thanks for your coverage of this issue!

Apr. 30 2010 02:12 PM
j from bklyn

from what i've heard via public radio, BP successfully fought having an additional stop gap measure [blow out prevention or leak plug] being put on for any number of reasons always adding up to money.
Any updates on who let that through, and what the insurance specs are on what's going to happen with the Obama administration looking into all of this now?

Apr. 30 2010 01:53 PM
Leonard from New York

Why can't government have laws to require contigency plan to close the well before they start drilling?

Apr. 30 2010 01:48 PM

In regards to the gulf spill why isn't it possible for workers to simply collapse the well in some way

Apr. 30 2010 01:46 PM

What caused the fire in the first place?

Apr. 30 2010 01:45 PM
Chris W. from NY

The leak seems to be in deep water does prevent the standard measures they use to cap off blown wells? Is deep ocean drilling a relatively new technology that can only be tested under real world situations?

The oil also looks a lot lighter than the crude in the exxon spill any pros/cons being lighter is it easier to clean?

Apr. 30 2010 01:42 PM
Shelli from west Orange,NJ

I heard today on the news that there is an investigation into bribing of mine inspectorsin West Virginia. Who is responsible for oversight of the safety of oil rigs?

Apr. 30 2010 01:38 PM
Shelli from west Orange,NJ

Is it possible to send tankers with vaccuum pipes to suction up the oil that is gushing up on the surface. If enough tankers are brought to the area, perhaps a lot of the oil could be salvaged and more importantly, ecosystems spared the ravages of oil pollution

Apr. 30 2010 01:35 PM
Amy from Brooklyn, NY

Why can't the leaks be stopped up?

Apr. 30 2010 01:34 PM
Merrill J. Clark from NY,NY

What technology/process is used to clean up the oil from the oil spill?

Apr. 30 2010 01:30 PM
JT from Long Island

Reading about the oil slick in the Gulf it seems obvious that the offshore drilling industry has no idea how to deal with this. Why is there no well devised procedure for handling this leak? They seem to be attempting to improvise.

Apr. 30 2010 01:26 PM
Tofu Boy from Stop and Shop, Watchung, NJ

Regarding the topic of off-shore oil drilling -- I have in the past purchased large, frozen scallops labeled "All Natural, Wild," from the Gulf of Mexico. All had the taste of oil. This happened with about 4 or 5 two pound bags I purchased, over around 2 years (with these bags costing around $25 per!).

Is all seafood living near oil drilling areas affected by the drilling activity? Is this food measured for such effects and if so by whom?

Apr. 30 2010 12:54 PM

I would think that oil companies being required to take out insurance in case of such incidents as the one British Petroleum is responsible for now would prompt the industry to take necessary measures to prevent them or delay drilling until such measures could be invented.

A genuine industry composed of insurers and their independent risk assessors would have estimated the risk of this mess taking place and priced their products accordingly. Given the fact that the oil industry is wealthy enough to "self-insure," they are therefore immune from such incentives and reflection.

Apr. 30 2010 12:45 PM
Carl from Lindenhurst, NY

Please ask your guest to comment on the design and use of "Blowout Preventers". Since the one in Louisiana failed to automatically or manually close I was wondering how often they are tested and if they are designed to close if all connections to the platform are severed.

Apr. 30 2010 12:13 PM
Josh Levine

Pardon me for stating the obvious, but that prolific, uncappable oil well off the Louisiana shore -- hasn't it occurred to anybody else that this is a case for Superman?

Apr. 30 2010 09:21 AM

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