Voicing support for marine seismic surveys
In 1902, Rome Petroleum and Iron Co. began drilling the first exploratory oil wells in Georgia in Floyd County. The wells were part of a national boom in oil exploration, inspired by Texas oil gushers and driven by rising national industrialization and mechanization.
Georgia was very active during the “Texas Oil Boom” era of exploration. The first Coastal Plain well in Georgia was drilled in 1905 and companies drilled more than 160 exploratory wells in Georgia between 1902 and 1979, all in hopes of capturing a part of the transformative growth they saw in Texas and Oklahoma.
In the 1950s, Georgia offered a $1 million reward for the first substantial find of oil. Today, there remains a bounty of $250,000 waiting for the first oil production, and new wells were drilled within the last five years. While Georgia, and many other Southeastern states, did not find the oil they were looking for, the lessons learned and data collected continue to prove invaluable for the scientific community, such as the recognition that the southeastern U.S. was once part of the African continent.
Today, Georgia has a chance to be part of another potential energy exploration boon, but this time it will be offshore. The federal government is nearing a decision regarding permitting of new seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean. Maligned by misinformation, marine seismic surveys have been conducted for more than 80 years, on every continental margin, and throughout most ocean basins. Seismic surveys are a demonstrably safe and fundamentally critical technique for understanding what lies beneath the Earth’s surface.
Seismic surveys are a safe, sensible, and responsible path towards informed decisions about our coastal and offshore environment. I understand the debate many Georgians are having about seismic surveys – we are having the same conversation in South Carolina. The beaches and wildlife are just as irreplaceable in Georgia as they are in South Carolina; they are integral parts of our states’ DNA. Claims that seismic surveys risk Georgia’s beauty and ecological richness are demonstrably false. What seismic surveys can do, however, is fuel a new generation of safe and responsible exploration, the same exploration Georgia was at the forefront of more than a century ago.
Dr. James H. Knapp, professor
University of South Carolina