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9 Important Pros and Cons of Offshore Drilling

Of all environmental issues, offshore drilling evokes passionate defenses and opposition covering just about every economic, political and social characteristic. There are pros and cons to any offshore drilling or oil production, but the fact it happens in the ocean stirs passions in the public that many environmental issues do not.

Here are several offshore drilling pros and cons that, while probably not making up, or changing your mind, will get you thinking about both sides of the issue.

Offshore Drilling Pros

The following are the standard offshore drilling pros most people who support offshore drilling will cite as justification for oil exploration and drilling. They are not usually transferable to onshore drilling scenarios specifically because the ocean and its health are involved.

1. National Self Sufficiency

National Self Sufficiency Graphics

A nation that explores oil and engages in oil drilling offshore is increasing its self-sufficiency, meeting its own energy needs, and reducing its dependence on foreign oil. Offshore oil drilling can help with energy independence and allow a country to build up oil reserves for use in times of market volatility or national crisis.

Countries that do not have natural resources or do not allow oil drilling are subject to the whims of the oil market. Since the 1970s, several countries that do not allow oil drilling ended up paying immensely in the form of higher energy prices. The lack of oil and gas independence also has policy implications.

See Related: Best Outdoor Jobs | Careers to Consider for Outdoor Lovers

2. Stronger Foreign Policy

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Nations with a robust energy creation strategy, including offshore oil drilling, can have cleaner, more direct communications with foreign countries and less complicated foreign policy decisions. A good example of how offshore drilling production could help a nation in times of crisis is the oil crunch and industry changes caused by the Russian-Ukranian conflict.

Initially, most European nations attempted to straddle the fence. Taking no side or at least only opposing Russia verbally was the strategy choice because they relied on Russia for natural gas and oil. The pressure from small businesses, government authorities, large corporations, etc., to hold off judgment because of fear of skyrocketing gas and oil prices was immense.

If some of those countries had built up offshore oil production and reserves or were more self-sufficient in producing their oil and gas, their position on the conflict might have been stronger. One way or the other, a stronger position might have helped end the conflict and save lives.

See Related: Is Natural Gas A Fossil Fuel? Here’s What to Know

3. Direct and Indirect Employment

Direct and Indirect Employment Graphics

Offshore oil rigs help the local economy and create jobs for hundreds of employees. The average rig has core rig jobs specifically engaged in locating and extracting oil and gas. In addition to those employees, there is also staff that cooks meals, cleans rooms, do laundry, etc.

Onshore, the local economy relies on those jobs in the form of businesses that supply rigs. In a few cases, oil rig work helps local businesses for entire towns. 

4. Lower Costs

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It is not a universal principle, but in many cases, the more fungible a commodity is, the lower its price. Fossil fuels like oil are no exception. Drilling oil offshore and making more oil available on the oil market lowers the price of oil for petroleum products (for gasoline, plastics, etc.) or for filling strategic oil reserves.

 When offshore drilling increases oil production, there is a direct link to the reduction of per-barrel pricing.

Offshore Drilling Cons

Opponents have several offshore drilling cons. The following are a few of them. One interesting aspect of offshore drilling objections is that they are comparable to onshore drilling concerns.

5. Damage to the Environment

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Of many risks that help bolster the arguments against offshore oil, environmental damage is probably the least defensible and the most compelling. Everyone has seen pictures of dead marine life or oil-drenched birds from oil spills. 

While technology has improved, recovering crude oil from oil spills and safeguarding the local environment once the oil gets into the local ecosystem is almost impossible.

BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe is a good example. The company was deepwater drilling when a blowout caused an explosion that sent millions of barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. The environmental impact of the weeks of oil spilling into the gulf is ultimately unknown. 

However, scientists are still finding elevated oil levels in ocean life in the area over a decade later.

See Related: Don’t Read This If You Think Climate Change is Fake

6. Non-Drilling Pollution

Non-Drilling Pollution Graphics

Oil spills, particularly ocean spills, are always the most newsworthy, but oil production generally is a major source of air, water, and ground pollutants. As a natural resource, refining oil creates toxic gasses like carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and particulate matter. Local groundwater can be polluted by discharge as well as when there are industrial accidents. 

Drilling oil has an immense impact on the marine environment, particularly in the event of an accident. Still, that damage is dwarfed by the mass pollution of refineries and the damage they cause to the earth’s surface, water and air.

7. Unkept Employment Promises

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The industry makes a lot of promises regarding how more drilling will help the average consumer and how offshore oil drilling will create multiple oil extraction employment opportunities. Unfortunately, the reality of the impact of an oil rig on a local economy tells a much different story. 

While the industry always promises the entire process will create thousands of onshore and offshore employment opportunities, the results are usually in the hundreds.

8. Inflated Economic Promises

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The economic growth predictions are also usually inflated. Perhaps, in a perfect world, production from offshore drilling would create massive economic growth. When, though, the employment numbers total in the hundreds versus thousands, relying on the energy industry, or petroleum production segment, more specifically, rarely pans out. 

Oil rigs and refineries also always promise more in the form of taxes, but that rarely happens, either.

See Related: Which Energy Source Generates the Least Greenhouse Gases?

9. Fossil Fuels and Global Warming

Fossil Fuels and Global Warming Graphics

The more drilling permitted, the less the world relies on sustainable energy. The equation for that is not zero-sum, but it is pretty close. If getting fossil fuels is easier or opportunities more prevalent, the impetus is to maintain the status quo. That could have severe implications for the earth and subsequent generations.


What are the negative effects of offshore drilling?

The negative effects of offshore drilling are numerous. Offshore drilling can lead to oil spills, which can cause significant environmental damage to marine life and ecosystems. In addition, offshore drilling can also contribute to air and water pollution, which can have negative impacts on human health and local economies that rely on tourism and fishing industries.

What are the pros and cons of offshore oil drilling?

Offshore oil drilling is the process of extracting oil from beneath the ocean floor. One of the pros of offshore oil drilling is that it can lead to increased domestic oil production and reduce reliance on foreign oil. However, there are also several cons to offshore oil drilling, including the risk of oil spills and environmental damage, as well as the high cost and potential danger to workers.

What are the challenges of offshore drilling?

Offshore drilling is the process of extracting petroleum from beneath the ocean floor. The challenges of offshore drilling include the potential for oil spills, which can have devastating effects on marine life and the environment. Additionally, offshore drilling can be expensive and difficult due to harsh weather conditions and the need for specialized equipment.

What are 3 negatives about oil rigs?

Three negatives about oil rigs are their environmental impact, safety risks, and high cost of operation. Oil rigs can cause significant harm to the environment through oil spills, pollution, and disruption of marine ecosystems. Additionally, oil rig workers face numerous safety risks due to the hazardous nature of the job, such as explosions, fires, and exposure to toxic chemicals.

Finally, oil rigs require significant financial investment to construct and maintain, making them a costly endeavor for companies and potentially driving up the price of oil for consumers.

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