As we enter the summer months, gasoline prices are inching up and oil prices increasing slowly but surely. Over 75 percent of the global oil reserves and production is controlled by foreign government owned enterprises – national monopolies, the overwhelming number controlled by monarchies and dictatorships.
The Thomas Jefferson Institute recently released a research paper: Virginia Off-Shore Gas & Oil Fact Sheet, that outlines the amount of oil and gas off our coast and the safeguards in place today through modern exploration and production techniques to protect our environment.
Virginia is sitting on huge potential reserves of natural gas, but we aren’t even allowed to determine how much is actually sitting off our coast at a distance of 50 miles. Estimates from years ago tell us Virginia could have enough natural gas off our shores to supply all our needs for at least 4100 years. And some estimated told us that there could be enough to supply our needs here in Virginia for 66,000 years!
Based on 1970’s estimates, the last ones the federal government made, oil reserves off Virginia’s coast could produce enough energy for seven and a half months of our oil needs. However, new exploration and production techniques in other parts of the world with similar geologic structures indicate that today’s estimates for oil could range up to 900 billion barrels of oil or enough to produce Virginia’s needs for 4,000 years! And we are not allowed, as of today, to even explore to find out how much oil is actually off our coast.
The Gulf States were allowed by Congress to create a cooperative production situation allowing each state to get a piece of the oil and natural gas production in that body of water. The same could be done for the states of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia and the amount of potential oil and gas reserves would be tremendously expanded from the numbers outlined above.
Clearly the United States should explore for natural gas and oil off our coast. The other states in the Southeast and Maryland should be allowed to enter a cooperative relationship to pool resources and develop as much energy as we can.
Energy independence or at least more independence than we have today is a logical national goal and one that should be supported by all political parties and all political leaders. We need oil and gas to run our economic engine and it will be an important part of our energy supplies for years to come since “alternative energy” capabilities are still decades down the road in any reasonable quantities at prices that make economic sense.
What the environmental extremists don’t want us to understand is that modern exploration and production techniques are much safer than they were just 20 or 30 years ago. We know this from the fact that huge hurricanes have devastated our Gulf coast over the past few years and none of the oil production “leaked” into the waters. Further, oil derricks 50 miles off our coast could not be seen standing our beaches or even if looking out a 20 story window at a luxury beach hotel or condominium.
Income to Virginia through royalty payments for natural gas and oil production could be at least $65 million a year and maybe quite a bit more depending on what is actually found off our coast. Some have used numbers as high as $200 million a year although such high numbers could only come from finding the upper quantities of oil and gas and developing production and transport capabilities to allow such large quantities to be produced.
More importantly, on top of the economic sense it makes to explore for natural gas and oil off our coast, we should know what is available in order to have a reasonable and rational discussion on how and if we should drill at all.
We also have two important national security issues facing Virginians in this policy debate.
First, Virginia can help the United States cut its dependence on foreign oil, cut our need for oil by producing huge quantities of natural gas, and make our nation safer in today’s dangerous world.
Second, as we send our young men and women overseas to the Middle East to fight, we all know one of those reasons is because we need the oil from these Middle East countries which are not politically free as we understand; moreover they harbor and even encourage philosophies that are dedicated to our destruction.
The above are two additional, rational reasons for Virginia to move ahead with the exploration and development of natural gas and oil off our coasts. We should demand that the Department of Interior allow Virginia to explore off our entire coast. To do anything less makes no sense from an economic or national security point-of-view.