Factsheet: The Three Myths of Offshore Drilling - Oceana USA
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May 10, 2010

Factsheet: The Three Myths of Offshore Drilling

For the PDF of this factsheet, click here.

Myth 1: Offshore drilling is safe.

The Deepwater Horizon Drilling Disaster is not an isolated incident and offshore oil drilling is extremely dangerous. Since 2006, the United States Minerals Management Service reports that there have been at least 21 offshore rig blowouts, 513 fires or explosions offshore and 30 fatalities from offshore oil and gas activities in the Gulf of Mexico.

Just last year, a new offshore oil drilling rig off the coast of Australia had a blowout similar to the one on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The Australian rig spewed approximately 16,800 gallons of crude oil daily into the Timor Sea for about 75 days.

As we can see with the Deepwater Drilling Disaster, safety measures and so-called “failsafe” mechanisms can fail, and when they do, we do not have the technology to stop ongoing oil releases, nor are we capable of effectively cleaning them up.

Myth 2: Offshore drilling will lower gas prices.

Additional offshore oil drilling will not lower gas prices and will put millions of people’s jobs at risk. In 2009, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) estimated that by 2030 gasoline prices would be $3.88 per gallon if all the U.S. oceans were open for drilling – that’s just three pennies less than if previously protected ocean areas remained closed.

Oil is a global commodity; therefore additional U.S. oil supply (from additional offshore oil drilling) would have to be significant enough to alter the global price of oil in order to impact local gasoline prices. The United States simply cannot produce enough oil from the limited resource in its offshore areas to make a difference on global oil prices.

Yet at the same time, an oil spill can threaten the livelihoods of thousands of fishermen as well as those in the restaurant, hotel and other industries who rely on coastal tourism.

Myth 3: Offshore drilling will make the U.S. energy independent.

The only way to become truly energy independent is to end our addiction to oil. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that even if we opened all of the offshore areas to drilling, the U.S. would still import about 58% of its oil supply.

Currently, about 62% of the crude oil supplied to the United States comes from foreign sources, with the top two suppliers being Canad and Mexico. The United States simply does not have enough domestic oil to reduce its dependence on imports, much less to fulfill its demand.

The best way to eliminate foreign oil dependence is to eliminate dependence on all oil by developing alternative sources, rapidly switching to plug-in and electric vehicles and phasing out oil consumption in other portions of our economy like home heating and electricity generation.