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. 
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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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