Seismic Studies Stir Up Trouble in Offshore-Drilling Debate

A jack-up rig, an offshore oil and gas drilling platform, undergoes repair works at a shipyard in Singapore on March 17, 2009. Oil prices fell on Asian trade as investors continued to react to OPEC's decision to maintain its current production levels, dealers said. 
National Journal
Clare Foran
Feb. 27, 2014, 1:37 a.m.

Off­shore drillers and en­vir­on­ment­al­ists are push­ing their agenda ahead of the re­lease of an In­teri­or De­part­ment re­port on seis­mic stud­ies to pin­point un­der­wa­ter oil and gas de­pos­its, Fuel Fix re­ports.

The ana­lys­is, which is due out Fri­day, will not ex­pli­citly con­done the use of seis­mic re­search in At­lantic wa­ters. But the tone it ad­opts to­ward the stud­ies, which use son­ar to identi­fy pock­ets of off­shore oil and gas, will hint at wheth­er the de­part­ment is likely to ap­prove per­mits for seis­mic re­search in off­shore ex­plor­a­tion.

Oil- and gas-in­dustry stake­hold­ers say seis­mic re­search is a ne­ces­sary next step in off­shore ex­plor­a­tion. If the in­dustry is giv­en the green­light to carry out the stud­ies, it will provide the first in­dic­a­tion of oil and gas re­serves in the At­lantic to ar­rive in dec­ades.

En­vir­on­ment­al­ists, on the oth­er hand, warn that the use of son­ar will harm un­der­wa­ter wild­life. A let­ter sent by nine sen­at­ors, in­clud­ing Cory Book­er, D-N.J., and Shel­don White­house, D-R.I., to In­teri­or De­part­ment Sec­ret­ary Sally Jew­ell on Wed­nes­day said the stud­ies should be shelved un­til “all of the best avail­able sci­ence can be in­cor­por­ated.”

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