Offshore wind energy would produce twice as many jobs and twice the energy as offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. This is according to a new report from the world’s largest international advocacy group dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans.
Combatting “Exaggerated” Claims
Oceana, founded in 2001, released the report which “challenges recent claims by the oil and gas industry that opening the East Coast to offshore willing will lead the United States to energy independence.” Such claims go on to suggest that such a move would generate millions in revenue for the adjoining US states, and create thousands of jobs to boot.
However, according to Oceana’s analysis, not only are these industry claims “exaggerated”, but they also rely on a state revenue-sharing system that simply does not exist.
“Our report compares economically recoverable oil and gas development to conservative estimates of offshore wind development to allow an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison of the energy and jobs that would be created by each source,” said Andrew Menaquale, report author and energy analyst at Oceana. “The American public deserves to know the facts when it comes to expanding this dirty and dangerous practice to the East Coast, and what alternatives there are for clean energy generation.”
The “economically recoverable oil and gas” is one of the sticking points for Oceana, as they believe that the “exaggerated” claims are partly due to the inclusion of oil and gas resources that are not economically recoverable.
To make matters worse, Oceana’s report also determined that offshore oil and gas development along the Atlantic Coast could actually put at risk nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in GDP (affecting industry such as fishing, tourism, and recreation).
Author Andrew Menaquale, who works with Oceana as an energy analyst, following a stint working in the Government Affairs department at the Environmental Working Group in Washington, thoroughly investigated the economic impact of both offshore drilling — and all that entails, including a device catchily called a “seismic airgun” — and offshore wind. And while this currently remains an academic version of “he said-she said,” Menaquale’s findings are telling.
Now Versus Then
A key finding from the Oceana report showed that a modest and gradual development of offshore wind on the East Coast has the potential to generate up to 143 GW of clean energy over the next 20 years — which is enough to generate enough power for over 115 million average households.
On the flip side of the coin, jobs and energy generation from offshore drilling on the Atlantic coast would not begin yielding results until 2026, at the earliest.
2026 sound a long way away? Well, it is, and it comes from the industry’s own projections for such development. According to a December 2013 report (PDF) investigating the economic benefits of drilling on the Atlantic coast, written by Quest Offshore, a leading intelligence firm for the global oil and gas community, and prepared for the American Petroleum Institution and the National Oceanic Industries Association:
“If seismic activity were to begin in 2017 and lease sales in 2018, first production could be expected as early as 2026.”
Furthermore, and from the same report, “offshore oil and natural gas development could produce an incremental 1.3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, generate nearly 280,000 jobs, contribute up to $23.5 billion per year to the US economy, and generate $51 billion in cumulative government revenue.”
Sounds good, right? Except, that quoted sentence starts “By 2035”.
Projected Economic Impacts due to Atlantic OCS Offshore Oil and Natural Gas Exploration and Production
Not only does wind, therefore start generating energy, jobs, and government revenue sooner, but it continues to do so long after the Atlantic dinosaur reserves are depleted. There are inherent costs in maintaining such offshore wind projects, but such arguments are offset by similar operation and maintenance costs for offshore drilling.
Wind versus Dinosaurs
Not only is there a very simple temporal component to this equation, but there are similarly simple product components as well.
As seen above, according to Quest Offshore, by 2035 Atlantic offshore drilling could be producing 1.3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. According to the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, there is “technically” 4.7 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil in the Atlantic Offshore zone, and 37.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
However, the key phrase here is “technically recoverable” — which is to say, the dinosaur remains are down there, but whether you can get it out, and do so without it costing more than you will make selling, is in doubt.
According to the report, there are only 132 days worth of economically recoverable oil, and 283 days worth of gas — significantly less than figures provided by the Department of the Interior based on their ‘technically recoverable’ numbers.
Moreso, even if the Atlantic zone was to be drilled, it would provide a relatively insignificant amount in comparison to other offshore zones. The Gulf of Mexico alone has more than 10 times what the Atlantic Offshore region technically holds.
The argument against fossil fuels has, with the exception of its environmental implications, always relied on its finite nature — there is only so much gas and oil and such to be recovered, and investing into a finite source of energy seems counter-intuitive when renewable and clean and environmentally friendly methods of generating power exist.
“Unlike offshore drilling, offshore wind provides power directly to coastal communities where we need energy the most, without the risk of oil spills or carbon pollution,” said Menaquale. “It’s time for the US to use the lessons learned from more than 20 years of offshore wind development internationally and apply them to generating clean, renewable energy off our coasts.”
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.