Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Forget "Drill here, Drill now" ... It should be "Drill more, Drill with US workers"

Kim Strassel in her Wall Street Journal Potomac Watch column clearly explained why the “Drill here, Drill now” issue was so important …. It’s pure political theatre. She gushes over Senator Norm Coleman for not joining his fellow Republican Senators who have the audacity to work with Democrat Senators to develop bipartisan legislation to address future energy needs. Her commentary concludes “Not one of the five Republicans in the Gang is facing a tough election this year. That's the sort of security that leads to bad decisions. And theirs is the sort of thinking that could leave Republicans in a permanent minority.” Gosh, heaven forbid that a politician would actually want to advance something good for the country regardless of its impact on his/her party. I thought voters elected people to serve in the country's best interests, not in their Party's interests.

So, accepting that this is just a political theme, what aren’t they telling us ?

The US News and World Reports recently looked at the limitation in OCS drilling. The article noted a key factor that is not being discussed is the lack of equipment and manpower to actually "Drill" ... here's the last paragraph.
"Yet even if Congress opens up the 574 million acres now off limits along the outer continental shelf, tight supplies of equipment and labor will severely constrain exploration in the next decade. Only a limited number of shipyards are capable of building the necessary $700 million drilling rig, and many of the rigs being built today are going to Brazil, West Africa, and Southeast Asia, where the oil business is also booming. Even then, it usually takes at least seven to 10 years for the oil to start flowing."

OK, let’s put this in perspective that even if you are not trained as a Radiation Oncologist can understand.
If you have one Gamma Stereotactic Radiosurgery unit, how many patients can you process ?
Only as many as the gamma unit can process … with the additional limitation of trained personnel.

The point is simple, it doesn't matter how many sites they open for drilling, it takes one rig per drill site, so until the oil companies commit to increasing the number of rigs, it doesn't matter. The other problem is manpower ... anyone who has ever spent time on a rig knows it's not fun (I know people who have serviced them). We do not have sufficient trained people today ... and since these are in the Gulf, there is no guarantee that non-Americans would not be hired.

But what if you could divert equipment elsewhere ? Not likely as many of the existing rigs are under contract for use all around the world. For example, when ExxonMobil gave up after drilling in the Blackbeard West off the Louisiana coast, the equipment was sent to Saudi Arabia where it is leased into 2011.

Why not build more rigs ? Rigs are expensive and at the price of oil, why not control the marketplace by the amount that is extracted.

Just more proof that any additional drilling will not produce additional crude for years.

The politicians promoting “Drill now, Drill here” are purely promoting a simplistic slogan for election purposes.

Over the next few days, additional commentaries will be offered concerning OCS drilling.

And for the record, I am not opposed to drilling … as long as the American treasury gets the royalties and not individual states.

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