Date ArticleType
1/29/2018 Member News
Michael Thompson: The Rich Possibilities For Offshore Drilling In Virginia

Michael Thompson: The rich possibilities for oshore drilling in Virginia

By Michael Thompson Jan 27, 2018- Richmond Times-Dispatch

Earlier this month, the U.S Department of Interior announced its new ve-year oshore oil and natural gas leasing plan. This plan places Virginia in a unique position to be one of the greatest beneciaries, with increased job creation, economic growth, and strengthened national security.

By developing what could be abundant oshore resources, we can ll a critical need in meeting our long-term energy needs and stabilizing energy costs for consumers. Such development could add signicantly to employment and to our local and state tax base.

It’s been decades since there has been a detailed analysis of how much oil and gas is available o our coast here in Virginia and along the East Coast in general.

As I understand the recent announcement, the oshore leasing plan will be coordinated with the results of the exploration plan already under consideration for scientic research and seismic exploration to determine how much oil and gas is available — and where those resources exist. This information will provide the facts needed to determine how and whether to develop such resources.

Of course, the overriding concern in the potential development of oil and gas o our coast is safety and environmental protection.

We all appreciate that our coastal cities and commercial shing industries rely on these waters for both their tourism and their economic livelihood. So it is important to realize that oshore drilling can occur more safely today than ever before.

New technologies protect marine life and detect problems before they occur, automatically shutting down wells, and suspending operations to prevent spills.

Since 2010, more than 100 exploration and production industry standards were created or strengthened to protect our coastal communities, the environment, marine life, and our workers.

Before a company can be issued a permit to drill an oshore well, it must prove it has a contract in place with a specialized well-containment company that is standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week in case anything happens at a well site.

This means that weeks of crude oil bellowing into our oceans as happened several years ago in the Gulf of Mexico, won’t happen again. New equipment has been designed and developed to cap such a catastrophic event and this equipment will be readily available if oshore exploration is to proceed.

According to a study by the Thomas Jeerson Institute in 2014 entitled, “Oil and Gas Potential o Virginia’s Coast,” there is likely between 11,300 and 63,000 barrels of crude oil a day that can be produced off our coast.

In addition, there could be between 88 million and 491 million cubic feet of natural gas that could be produced per day by 2035. These possible totals will be conrmed or changed by new exploration using modern resource mapping technologies.

Oshore natural gas and oil exploration will help provide aordable electricity for consumers here in Virginia and throughout our region.

It will also help America to become energy independent and enable us to export oil and gas to our allies who are now dependent on oil from politically unstable regions of the world or, as in the case of Eastern Europe, from our adversaries such as Russia and Iran.

Ultimately, increasing access to our oshore resources in the Atlantic will grow and diversify Virginia’s economy to benet families, manufacturers, and businesses.

The Jefferson Institute study mentioned earlier showed that 32,000 new jobs and $119 million in new tax revenue could be realized. These taxes from a growing economy could go toward relieving congestion problems in Hampton Roads and funding the schools that will be needed with the increase in families who will benet from new jobs.

These increased job numbers and tax revenues are based on the potential development of the oil and gas o our shores and do not include the jobs and taxes from the possible development of our port facilities into the “energy capital” of the East Coast. Virginia’s port is the deepest on the East Coast and could be an ideal location for processing oil and gas found along the Atlantic Coast.

The bottom line is that increasing access to our oshore resources will help to diversify Virginia’s economy, to lower energy costs for families, manufacturers, and businesses, and to put more Virginians into high paying jobs.

We should welcome the announcement by the Department of Interior about the possibility of developing oil and natural gas resources found o our coast. Let’s nd out just how much oil and gas is sitting there — and then debate whether to develop it.