Exxon Mobil Corp.'s huge new oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico is good news for domestic energy production, but it's even better news as a sign that last year's panic over the BP spill won't continue to cripple American offshore oil exploration. Every so often, reality triumphs over politics.
Exxon had been ready to drill on the site last year before the Obama Administration shut down all deepwater drilling in the wake of the BP spill. The Interior Department is still issuing very few permits, only 15 for new wells since it lifted its moratorium in October, but Exxon received one of them and struck black gold at 7,000 feet below sea level and some 230 miles at sea.
That's nearly 3,000 feet deeper than BP's Macondo well and shows how technology and innovation have opened up oil and gas resources that were impossible to detect, much less reach and develop, only a few years ago. Exxon estimates the field contains some 700 million barrels of oil equivalent, one of the largest finds of the last decade.
The great energy irony of recent years is that governments have thrown hundreds of billions of dollars at wind, solar, ethanol and other alternative fuels, yet the major breakthroughs have taken place in the traditional oil and natural gas business. Hydraulic fracturing in shale, horizontal drilling and new seismic techniques are only the best known examples.
Of course, politics still trumps economics when you're dealing with marxist maniacs doing a Chicken Little imitation on AGW. The strong indication that sunspots might affect the planet's weather far more than burning forests in the Amazon or even the ridiculously filthy brown coal electricity hellpots in Communist China doesn't keep the NEW RELIGION and its HIGH PRIESTS from issuing ex cathedra nonsense from science journals. The efforts to make any deviance from the Lysenko type of APPROVED SCIENTIFIC DOCTRINE of the USSR under Stalin mutatis mutandis Stateside HERESY are hopelessly laughable, but ridiculing pious fools like NASA chief-chimp Hansen & the East Anglia Synod of True Believers can't stop crooked politicians of the Left trying to tax us all for exhaling Carbon Dioxide. Here's more from the WSJ:
The risk of oil spills has not vanished. But one lesson of the BP debacle is that better management and practices could have prevented it. The Obama Administration is making it harder to obtain permits, which will eliminate all but the biggest companies from deepwater drilling and (unfortunately) raise the cost of production.
Far more important for safety is the effort that the oil industry is taking to contain future deepwater spills. ConocoPhillips, Exxon, Shell and Chevron have led an effort, since joined by other companies, to form the Marine Well Containment Co. to build a spill containment system that will be permanently placed in the Gulf starting next year.
The companies are attempting to apply the lessons from the BP fiasco, and their expectation is that the system would be able to handle a blowout as if it were a contained well at depths of up to 10,000 feet. The companies have committed $1 billion to the project, and we're told the cost could reach $1.5 billion. If you believe Big Oil companies are inherently evil, you'll think this is one more confidence trick. But no rational company or CEO wants to endure the reputational damage that accompanied the BP spill.
Frantic hysteric hand-flailing imbecility and sanctimonious homilies from the New York Times to the contrary notwithstanding, it appears that the US economy will not sink under the weight of government bureaucrats' attempts to curb every new project to develop new oil field discoveries.
Dowager crone Elizabeth Warren may inflict crone-barren restrictions on the financial community, but it looks like the EPA can't keep new offshore projects that far away from our shores under control---not when the EPA's allies in the PRC are drilling off Cuba much closer to US shores.