Gulf Gold

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

An oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

An oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Source: Chris Graythen/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Source: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

With the sustained back-and-forth between Sens. McCain and Obama about offshore drilling for oil (McCain: "We have to begin the drilling." Obama: "That's not a strategy designed to end our energy crisis. It's a strategy designed to get politicians through an election."), there's plenty of speculation (har) on how and when digging new wells in the Gulf of Mexico would affect gas prices. Today we're leaving that debate, and instead talking about the reality of offshore oil production, and we're starting at square one. For example, producer Susan Lund straightened out our lingo in the morning meeting today, clarifying that once the well's been dug and it's operating, it's no longer a "rig," it's a platform. Thanks, Susan! So if you've got a room with a view of a platform, what's it like? Or maybe you're in Florida, trying to keep the rigs out of your vista — how come?

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

I see comments questioning how the presence of oil platforms will affect the 'view' of the ocean out of one's windows -- what about the view of the oil spills (which are inevitable, either in the drilling or maintenance situation) Has anyone considered how Gulf hurricane weather will affect rigs and platforms?

Sent by Carol Stromek | 2:23 PM | 8-11-2008

One of your previous guests didn't have an answer as to why offshore drilling off the coast of Alabama didn't translate into lower fuel costs in Alabama. This is a very important point. The oil market is a global market. Therefore the price is the same globally. The reason oil companies want to drill in these shallower waters is because it costs them less. The savings they enjoy will not be passed on to the consumer. That barrel of oil will cost the same to us as a barrel of oil from the Persian Gulf. The oil companies will keep the profits. Sad but true. I find it interesting that this fact is so often skirted around.

Sent by Craig Fisher-Salt Lake City | 2:26 PM | 8-11-2008

I married a man who works as an engineer for Schlumberger, an oil service company. It has been a learning experience, sometimes good sometimes bad. I was prepared to hate the evil oil empire, and even encouraged my husband to look at other options, but ultimately I had to admit that his company was very good to us and afforded us both compensation and opportunities that other companies no longer offer.

From our standpoint in south Louisiana, the oil company simultaneously harms the environment and improves the economy, not unlike many other industries in our nation. It appears to me that environmentalists and energy companies are learning to work together down here, instead of fighting each other. We need each other.

Sent by Sloane | 2:29 PM | 8-11-2008

Topic made me email my congressional representative. Why are we still talking about offshore drilling?

Fuel price won't decrease significantly in short term whether we increase off shore drilling or not.

Resources such as oil and gas are finite and other fuel users will compete for these finite resources in the future.

The environmental and aesthetic concerns should not be swept under the rug. Oil rigs are ugly and polluting.

There are always oil spills and hurricanes that damage drilling platforms and ocean-floor pipelines.

Americans need to conserve resources yet the c-word hardly gets discussed as much as off shore drilling.

Americans can not afford every luxury they desire. Sacrifices should be made until we develop cleaner and more sustainable energy sources.

Media has said current gasoline price has gone down because Americans have lessened how much they drive. Ta da! Sometimes the simplest solutions are in our grasp.

Sent by bob | 2:42 PM | 8-11-2008

I continue to hear from those in favor of increased drilling that the platforms in the Gulf survived Katrina without any significant spills. In reality, 8 million gallons of oil were spilled in that storm. That is the second largest spill in U.S. history, after the 11 million spilled by the Exxon Valdez. Most of the oil spilled during Katrina wound up on the ground. Apparently this point is an "inconvenient truth" to those in favor of more drilling.
A report on the spill after Katrina can be found here:
http://www.mms.gov/tarprojects/581.htm

Sent by Dean | 2:43 PM | 8-11-2008

all of the callers have opinions that consider less than half of the evidence... including evidence discussed immediately prior to the call.

but i begin to object when a former congressman who should know better cites the half of the evidence that supports his interests and ignores that which contradicts it.

the huge thing being left out of today's discussion was the extent to which conservation could reduce the need for all that oil. if we are looking at 8 dollar a gallon gas in five years unless we drill, you can be sure we will see 8 dollar a gallon gas even if we do drill.

we would be better to spend our time learning how to adapt to that 8 dollar gas. i could suggest ways, but without the forum to defend them from the half considered objections, it is probably best for me to just leave the "we need to learn to conserve" argument hanging in the air, as it were.

Sent by coberly | 2:46 PM | 8-11-2008

I have worked offshore and on ships both in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. It seems to me there isn't much concern for the 200,000+ jobs at stake for commercial divers, sailors, welders, etc. that make excellent pay for blue collar jobs working in coastal regions. Lets remember, these jobs aren't going to China and India either. The manufacturing base that was laid off in Michigan can surely find a good career in this field if offshore drilling is expanded and also preserve the maritime industry in America which I am so fond of.

Sent by Tim Sinquefield | 2:48 PM | 8-11-2008

Instead of drilling off our coasts and destroying the environment - like they are doing here in Western Colorado - Money should be spent to create Geo-Thermal power plants and run electric and air cars. The problem with this solution is the power and money that Big Oil have which dictates our policies.
do a search on compressed air cars and www.whokilledtheelectriccar.com. These are viable technologies NOW.

Sent by Jodie | 2:52 PM | 8-11-2008

All these Republicans are pushing hard to allow offshore drilling. It is my understanding that if any new drilling was actually approved, we would not see new oil for around ten years. Furthermore, additional offshore drilling would only add 1% to the total oil production thus only lowering the cost only 1%. With the speed of technology, would it not be more wise to invest in fuel efficiency and alternatives?

Sent by David Ano (pronounced "a no" as opposed to "a yes") from Whitmore Lake, MI | 3:02 PM | 8-11-2008

I find it obnoxious how the images used to 'show oil platforms' are clearly close-up images not taken from the shoreline.

If these pictures are going to be used to say 'this can be seen from the shore' they should be natural (not telephoto) images actually taken from the shoreline. It is plainly biased reporting to do otherwise.

The shoreline itself is not included in the proposed leasing area, and people should realize 'off-shore' actually means it... the fact that you can see the tops of some platforms is hardly destroying the tourism potential of the area.

Sent by Andrew Farris | 4:59 PM | 8-11-2008

HOW LONG TO CONSTRUCT NEEDED REFINERIES FOR PRODUCTION

Sent by TOM | 5:57 PM | 8-11-2008

I believe that this has been planned since 1981. to raise the price of gas so that we would be forced to drill here in the US. I don't think it is a bad idea, but I think we once again have had the wool pulled over our eyes to get the price of gas to go as high as the government wants it to go, just before we are saying OH LOOK the gas prices have gone down. WOW all the way to $3.70.Yes we do remember that last year at this time it was $2.70, and we made to believe that we were lucky then too. WOW how lucky can we get? Now the rich are still getting richer and the poor are still poor. We live just the way the government wants us to live. they totaly control us. Weather we like it or not. EGO, and GREED. that's what they (Politicians) are all about. I guess it is true the one who has the most toys at the end is the winner. Hmmmmm

Sent by mps | 6:12 PM | 8-11-2008

Given that we are using and will be using oil for quite a while, aren't
we simply exporting pollution by opposing drilling in the US. Instead of polluting the water/environment here it will be polluted in what ever country the oil is produced. Here in the US we could at least enforce the highest possible environmental standards on production. So in some way the more oil is produced in western countries with high environmental standards the better.
This of course only helps if we curb demand agressively, so that production here actually leads to less production elsewhere. Just a thought.

Sent by Marc Hesse | 6:22 PM | 8-11-2008

I find it laughable that a guy who bought a house on Dauphin Island THREE years ago is now complaining about the "view". Those rigs have been there for decades.

By the way, this professor bought a house on Dauphin Island right after Katrina. He was profiting on the misfortune of others by buying real estate at depressed prices.

Sent by Mel Lingerman | 9:13 PM | 8-11-2008

What the Hell is wrong with you people! STOP using OIL NOW. Rebuild the old cities and move close. Stop driving gasoline powered anything! WAKE UP. Ride a bike or use small electric cars (GM can still be a car maker and bring America back to the head of the class) STOP BIG OIL NOW. States grow and manufacture your own goods. We don't need global we need to shrink our over use of the planet. STOP buying Japanese and Chinese goods and bring AMERICA back to the top! LEAVE the other countries alone and fix AMERICA.

Sent by Bob | 10:04 AM | 8-12-2008

I am continually amazed by the proponents of offshore drilling who claim that modern offshore drilling is clean and does not have a negative impact on the environment. It seems to me that regardless of how cleanly the crude oil is extracted from the ground that in the end it will be burned and wind up emmitting large quantities of greenhouse gases. I think we should be looking at the larger global environmental impact of increased drilling and not just at the local impacts near the platforms. Instead of increasing our reliance on highly polluting energy technologies of the past would it not be far more beneficial to look towards the future and invest in alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and nuclear power?

Sent by Brad Nash | 10:46 AM | 8-12-2008

Take an hour of your time and google "energy non crisis". Watch the 75 minute video. Pastor Lindsey Williams explains the conspiracy of our government with oil bearing countries, why our oil prices are really high, and much more! This man was with the powers that be as a pastor. He was invited into their world of corruption and deceit. Long story short- we made a deal with oil countries to buy oil from them. In exchange they will sell the oil in the US dollar (which they have). Oh, yeah...and THEY will underwrite our national debt. What is it now? 8 or 9 trillion $ ? Guess what happens if we break our deal? Guess what happens if Iran starts to sell oil to the world in another currency? Where will the next war take place? Hmm...I wonder. BTW-it's not a democrat or republican thing. This has been an ongoing deal with the devil for decades. Believe the media if you want, or investigate the truth for yourself. Just be careful who you upset or someone might not like it. Look what happened with JFK.

Sent by Anony Mouse | 10:58 AM | 8-12-2008

"Katrina spilled oil"
Yes, from damaged infrastructure , tankers and barges, very little from platforms. By the way, far more than that seeps out of the seafloor naturally every year.

"Why doesn't oil production mean lower gasoline for Alabama?.
It does: Alabama 3.69 /, New York 4.04/gal (8/12/2008). Depends on taxes, too. Alabama's taxes are lower thanks to oil royalties.

"Rigs are ugly and polluting."
Rigs are non-polluting masterpieces of technology. Farm run-off is polluting, making a dead zone the size of New Jersey. Ethanol is expanding it.

"There is not much oil offshore "
Brazil just found enough to make them as rich as Saudi Arabia.

"Money should be spent making geothermal plants."
The first action to do so is to drill a hole, very much like an oil well.

Sent by Geophys55 | 12:30 PM | 8-12-2008

You make an interesting point, Andrew -- I chose this photo because it's more visually interesting than a shot like you're suggesting, but check out .

Sent by Sarah Handel | 2:40 PM | 8-12-2008

People who think drilling will decrease the cost of gas do not understand two things. 1) the oil is owned by international companies with an international investment base who are out to make a profit with no concern to the US economy. 2) That the equilibrium price of a commodity is set by the demand and there is nothing increasing supply can do about that.

Even if the US could double it's production capacity and drive the price of oil down to a manageable level, it would behoove the Saudis to decrease production. They could inherently bring the same paycheck home for producing less product. That is a win-win for them. But most Americans do not seem to understand how market prices are set.

Sent by Dwight from Cleveland | 3:33 PM | 8-12-2008

The fact that were still talking about more drilling I think is very foolish.
We pride ourselves for being at the cutting edge of technology in this country, yet we've largely ignored some of the greatest advances in power and energy for over thirty years.
I have to admit I've grown very tired Listening to all these discussions on NPR about should we drill? Should we not drill?
In the end, weather it's a foreign or domestic company that sell us the oil, they all have a bottom line and a legal obligation to make as high profits as possible for their investors and when it's all said and done we will still be paying too much regardless of who the vendor is, not to mention the price on our environment.
Please respect your viewers intellect by not wasting anymore time on discussions that people that are educated about the world, know is utter nonsense and will do nothing to help the current oil situation.
Nothing is cheaper or cleaner than solar
power.

Sent by Ryan | 10:16 AM | 8-14-2008

we need to begin offshore drilling to ensure that we have sufficient energy resources. the US needs to become more independent and not rely on foreign countries with whom we have bad relationships.

Sent by Anna | 12:39 PM | 9-19-2008