Oil Companies Should Not Be Allowed To Drill Offshore
With the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, there has been outrage at BP's lack of planning which led to this environmental disaster. However, only some of the blame can lie with BP - similar disasters litter the history of offshore drilling (such as the Ixtoc 1 spill in the Gulf of Mexico 30 years ago), while spills from ships such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, and the Torrey Canyon in the UK have also illustrated the harm oil spills can cause to ocean-based ecosystems. Is it worth risking our renewable resources in the search for the last few non-renewables? We propose that governments with oil reserves off their coastline should pass laws, similar to the ban overturned by George W. Bush in 2008, that prevent new contracts for offshore drilling being given so that when existing contracts finish, companies would no longer be permitted to drill for deep oil deposits offshore.
Please cast your vote after you've read the arguments.
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Offshore drilling poses environmental risks
There is also a long term effect because the remaining species will have a lower heterozygosity index (the amount of allele variation within a species). This is important because if there is a change in selection pressure, such as a new disease, this could leave the remainder of the species vulnerable as they are less likely to survive because they are less likely to have a dormant allele that becomes advantageous.
The potential environmental risk is massive and thus offshore drilling should not be allowed because it can have such an effect on the environment, both in the short term and long term. Offshore drilling could lead to the extinction of various species, and a ban would be a sure way to help preserve biodiversity.
Furthermore, an example Exxon Valdez incident which occurred over 20 years ago, is already outdated. Safety measures and drilling equipment have been significantly improved by each decade, and risks of an accident are much lower today.
The second example the proposition has provided against offshore drilling can similarly be attributed to the irresponsible company. BP is a company known for its terrible safety track record blotched with frequent accidents that could have been easily prevented. It's safety regulation violations are numerous and it has been fined 760 times, the data of whose significance is further crystallized by oil giant ExxonMobil who has been, in comparison, fined only once.[[http://bit.ly/dCT6VT]]
Both of these examples show that the causes of these accidents were not the inherent danger of offshore oil drilling, but the highly irresponsible practices of the operating companies. If offshore drilling is performed according to the safety measures, regulated by the government, the practice has very small, if any, dangers. Countries like Brazil and Norway have had no major accidents comparable to that of BP. Norway, whose oil and gas offshore operations have safely and effectively co-existed with fishing operations since 1971 [[http://bit.ly/b8EWIG]], clearly demonstrates this. In fact, Norway is now the world's sixth largest oil producer and the tenth largest fish producer. The fact that there have been no major accidents in almost 40 years in Norway clearly shows that if offshore drilling is performed correctly dangers can be effectively prevented.
Offshore drilling can cripple local economies.
Fish numbers are not just temporarily cut following an oil spill, but drastically cut for a long time. There would therefore have to be very limited fishing in order to ensure that the fish stock does increase and is not lowered further. This means that the local economy will struggle for, potentially, years because they will not be able to fish as much as they did before the accident.
In the event of such complications, as it is in the case of BP, the oil companies are sometimes asked to pay the bill for both the clean-up effort and the efforts to restore peoples' quality of life (though off poorer coasts, this isn't always so). BP's bill now sums $6.1bn [[http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-10910612]] This means that any offshore drilling has an associated risk of being unprofitable. But the success of other offshore wells mean that this is a risk oil companies continually make, gambling their profitability on offshore drilling. Legislation preventing offshore drilling would prevent companies from taking such costly risks.
Thus offshore drilling should be banned because can have a serious, long-term, effect on the local economy, or can cripple the oil company unfortunate enough to lose the game of Russian roulette.
Furthermore, offshore drilling is highly profitable for many reasons.
First of all, locally produced oil will reduce the price of oil for the nations, which can bring huge savings to the nation. Even a slight reduction in oil prices can have very significant benefits for a nation.
Secondly, offshore drilling jobs are very highly paying. The starting salary of an offshore drilling company employee stands minimally at about 3000$ per month [[http://ezinearticles.com/?Are-You-Thinking-About-an-Oil-Platform-Job?&id=2614310]] and higher.
Thirdly, the nations and states can collect large amounts of revenue in taxes and royalties from oil and gas drilling companies. The state of Louisiana in the U.S. for example, has made 1.5 billion USD in revenues in 2008 [[http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/2008-07-13-offshore-drilling_N.htm]] and the profits have been projected to further increase. Residents of the state also benefit from high-paying jobs benefiting the state's economy even more.
In case of rare accidents that can have significant impacts on their vicinity that (as mentioned before and illustrated by examples of countries like Norway and Brazil) are highly unlikely (and we emphathically stress the "highly") when strict regulations are followed and observed, the company is responsible for all the damages its operations have caused and is made to make amends for the problems it caused. Therefore, fishing industries and businesses dependent on clean shores and beaches need not fear the problems that are highly unlikely
The amount of oil in offshore deposits could easily be offset in other ways
Even in the provision of oil, offshore deposits are very limited. For example, tar sands and shale oil deposits total around double the amount in reserves of conventional oil (on land as well as offshore).[[http://www.abelard.org/briefings/tar_sands_shale_oil.php]]. As well as lasting us much longer, the result of using this oil would be almost the opposite of oil spills - taking oil-loaded sand and returning it to a cleaner state. So offshore oil deposits do not really offer even a good medium term solution.
Therefore, we do not need offshore oil drilling in order to provide our energy even in the medium term, and should look to option which are more sustainable (such as reducing waste) or at least provide a longer stop-gap to the eventual depletion of oil (tar sands and shale oil).
But energy isn’t the only part of offshore oil drilling. By the latest report, in the US, 63,012 people are employed by the offshore oil industry. They are paid sufficiently, too. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, every job connected with offshore drilling earns above average wages. [[http://www.atr.org/maine-gain-million-offshore-drilling-a4822#ixzz0wGN6KkPJ]]
That’s just sixty thousand in the US alone. Many other countries such as Angola, Norway, Nigeria, and Greenland are involved in offshore oil drilling
Even if tar sands and shale oil deposits are more than conventional oil, tar sand extraction has many immediate environmental effects if not risks. Production of tar sands oil causes at least three times more global warming pollution than conventional oil.
Also, two tons of tar sands are required to produce one barrel of oil. So, the difference of the amount of deposits isn’t much, in the end.
It is more costly to produce tar sands than to produce conventional oil. [[http://www.nwf.org/Global-Warming/Policy-Solutions/Climate-and-Energy/Dirty-Fuels/Tar-Sands.aspx]]
Geographical exploration hasn’t been done since 1990 for offshore oil drilling. Studies show that more drilling sites are highly probable to exist. So, if exploration is done, more potential places could be found and ultimately more jobs. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offshore_oil_and_gas_in_the_United_States#Federal_restrictions]]
We must invest in renewable sources
There are other reasons for investing in renewable sources beyond necessity which support development of renewable sources as soon as possible. Renewable resources are a key strategy in reducing CO2 emissions, because they do not involve combustion. In an era where we are increasingly certain that society is contributing to global warming, this is incredibly important.
Renewable resources are also becoming more and more efficient, especially in the case of solar power. The amount of energy available to us from sources such as solar power is astonishing; if 1% of the sahara desert were covered with concentrating solar panels, it would create enough energy to power the entire world. [[http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/06/21/solar-energy-from-sahara-will-be-imported-to-europe-within-5-years/]] Already, we have seen a solar plane make a 24 hour test flight [[http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38142746/ns/technology_and_science/]] With such developments as these, surely it makes sense to continue to invest in renewable energy sources.
Thus, it seems banning offshore drilling would ensure we look beyond very short term fixes to the energy crisis and force oil companies instead to develop long term solutions, diverting investment towards providing a future for mankind in a sustainable way.
The proposition stated that ‘’There is a finite amount of oil.'' Although we realize that oil is not sustainable we believe that until it is diminished (or renewable energy becomes widely feasible) we should use it in the most efficient way possible.
Additionally, it would be a miracle if we can make the whole world switch from using oil to the energy of solar and tidal energy. We on side opposition see this as an infeasible event; the cost of solar power is high, insufficiency of output without sun, creates pollution as it is made of toxic metals, unstable, 60% of insufficiency and hard to attain for the whole population of the entire world. If we refer to tidal energy the drawbacks are numerous. First to even find an area to construct the system would be complicated to attain, luckily if we do find a spot sufficient enough it will go on to demand an immense amount of money. When constructed it can only be used irregularly thus making it not as profitable. Tidal power requires there to be dams built in the water which requires harsh expenses, endured a lot of a lot of time and labor. When the dams are built it will prevent fish migration, or even worse kill them in the spinning turbines and other wildlife. The bottom line is that renewable energy, although being the energy source of future, is not yet feasible.
The opposition also does not believe that more oil from offshore drilling needs to avert the attention from renewable resources because oil companies do not generally partake in the development of green energy.
Oil spills are inevitable
The same website used to prove that BP was abnormally unsafe has another article proclaiming the exact opposite, that "BP was not behaving very differently from everyone else."[[http://bit.ly/agmpAn]] In fact, Transocean (the contractor who operated the Deepwater Horizon rig) are in many ways more responsible for the spill: Transocean had been carrying out the drilling, owned the rig and a crucial piece of safety equipment - the 450-ton blowout preventer - which failed to stop the accident.[[http://bit.ly/cvD93I]] Far from being 'irresponsible', Transocean recently received an award for its abnormally good safety.[[http://bit.ly/9eOSZ2]] This shows the problem is not limited to a few companies, but is rampant through offshore drilling as an industry.
Oil spills from offshore drilling are far more frequent than the opposition was willing to accept - a table of blowouts lists 36 notable spills in the period in which the opposition claimed only one would occur.[[http://bit.ly/bsMNAf]]
Norway, far from demonstrating the safety of drilling with suitable precautions, shows instead the impossibility of eliminating risk. Gullfaks C is "out of control" and there is a real risk of a blowout.[[http://bit.ly/b7gbRi]] On top of this, the Norwegian government, realising that they are simply lucky not to have suffered an event similar to the Deepwater Horizon spill, have banned offshore drilling while they review regulations[[http://bit.ly/cMtWbW]].
Deepwater drilling acts at the forefront of the technological boundary, so risks can never be eliminated.[[http://bit.ly/cO5VdO]] Oil spills are therefore inevitably going to occur if offshore drilling continues, and the devastating impacts of oil spills which have already been outlined, coupled with this invariable risk, mean that offshore drilling should be banned.
can maintain that oil spills from offshore drilling facilities are “frequent and industry-wide” when out of 17000 wells drilled in the last five years [[http://ow.ly/2owOT]] only 2, as the table which the proposition has cited shows, had “notable accidents”.
Furthermore, we still find the proposition using the same Deepwater Horizon accident (whose owner BP has a
terrible safety record) against offshore drilling. It is also presently impossible to say that Transocean was “in many ways more responsible for the spill” because investigations are currently underway. [[http://ow.ly/2owQq]] We still say that the Deepwater Horizon accident singly does not prove that problems in the offshore drilling industry are “rampant”.
Moreover, we would like to question the validity of the figures that were provided by the proposition’s table because between 1980 and 2010, 16 [[http://ow.ly/2owPF]] (and not 36) spills, most of whose severity is ambiguous, are listed.
We also believe that Norway’s strict preventive measures do not demonstrate “the impossibility of eliminating risk”, but simply show how a well-regulated government acts. In addition, Gullfaks C (as all other platforms in Norway) has an advanced blowout preventer that was effectively used before in Norway [[http://ow.ly/2owSV]] , and that had not been installed in Deepwater Horizon. Norway has also temporarily banned only NEW offshore drilling. Regular drilling is normally operating [[http://bit.ly/cMtWbW]].
Finally, we understand the proposition’s deep concern, but if are to stop doing things because we can’t eliminate all possibilities of risk, we might as well stop doing everything including using computers because they can blow up (as shown by Dell’s battery hazards [[http://ow.ly/2owXC]]), drive (because there were Toyota car accidents [[http://ow.ly/2owYo]]), or eat fish because we can die choking on them. [[http://ow.ly/2ox0E]]
It is all delaying and worsening the innevitable
Trying to stop a shortage by depleting resources quicker seems to be one of the worst policies that could be implimented. Sometimes decisions have to be taken for the good of all of us and not just the few who want some more money. Getting off our addiction to oil sooner, while there is still plentiful supply as a potential fall back, is a wise move, and using funding which would otherwise go to offshore drilling will speed development of renewables. Oil companys themselves see the future outside oil, [[http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKL1516882320080115]] and its time the opposition did too.
Therefore, while we acknowledge current dependence on oil, we feel this shouldn't simply be accepted but actively discouraged, and a ban on offshore drilling would be one such way to wean ourselves off of oil.
Until these drawbacks are, at least halfway fixed, it will be a futile decision to ban oil companies to drill offshore. Furthermore, adoption of widespread usage of renewable resources, or even a reduction in our oil usage, is not only a matter of treating our "addiction to oil" but also of making the next generation technology ready – which simply has not happened yet. We also don’t believe that offshore drilling diverts funds from renewable energy development because contrary to the proposition’s belief, offshore drilling is profitable and provides governments and companies with more money that can be used for other uses the proposition may deem appropriate.
It is hard for millions of people to make ends meet because of the already high petroleum price ( much cheaper than renewable resources though). If all the oil companies worldwide stop drilling offshore and the current oil supply nears an end, it is definite for the already high prices to soar up even higher. In contrast to the proposition’s belief that the decision of the ban will be “good to all of us and not just the few who want some more money”, the decision will have an even severe impact on the people, especially the poor who are striving to live in LEDC’s, than on others.
Therefore, the opposition team believes that the world is not yet ready to switch from fossil fuels to renewable resources. Encouraging the ban on offshore drilling is the same as asking the hundreds of millions of financially vulnerable to suffer (for some to even die) during the t
Unfortunately, we were unable to reasonably debate, within the motion, whether the pleasure of eating fish is sufficient to outweigh the risk of choking. We hope that there can be further debate to solve that issue!
Some of our arguments depend on the claim that banning offshore drilling will increase investment in renewable energy sources, something which the opposition deny. We believe the profit from offshore drilling for the most part remains as profit, rather than being invested in renewable sources, while a ban on offshore drilling would make developing new energy sources unavoidable. It would force oil companies to invest in alternative sources. While some of this investment would invariably be spent simply on producing other forms of oil, we maintain that more would go to developing renewable supplies than oil companies would spend if the simply had higher profits. Renewable supplies would therefore be developed sooner than if offshore drilling was not banned, making it more likely that a solution would be found before the energy apocalypse.
New ways of making the most out of renewable sources are already being developed[[http://news.stanford.edu/news/2010/august/new-solar-method-080210.html]] - with solar power now cheaper than nuclear power and rapidly approaching oil in terms of price per unit[[http://www.ncwarn.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/NCW-SolarReport_final1.pdf]] - and increased investment would speed this technological development.
We therefore believe that, as well a being desirable, a ban on offshore drilling is very feasible and should therefore be implemented.
Banning drilling is unfair to nations and responsible companies
This point is also strengthened by the fact that the world is in constant need of energy and when energy prices are rising, potentially leading even to energy crisis, depriving a nation and its people of their right to use their much-needed resources is unfair, and even unreasonable (especially when energy can be extracted, under regulations and high technology, quite safely).
Furthermore, banning companies that were operating perfectly safely, without any violations and without producing any problems, is tantamount to blaming a blameless person. We all know what it feels like to be punished for misdeeds we have not done and how unfair it feels, and the opposition believes that unfairness should not be tolerated in oil drilling business just as it is not tolerated elsewhere.
We believe that in case of violations of rules, the correct move to be done is to punish the violators, further improve the regulations and the technology, learn from our mistakes and move on.
Nations' use of their own resources is already voluntarily limited in the developed world in areas where the environmental risk is thought to outweigh the benefits - for example London has a greenbelt on which development is banned in order to preserve the environment - and far from protecting nations' rights, allowing unfettered access to oil resources is a means by which MECs exploit LEDCs, with multinational corporations pocketing most of the profit. While not all oil producers are exploited - Saudi Arabia for example does benefit greatly from its oil - often the Western world is ready to accept lower prices resulting from corrupt governments pocketing the income, which in turn cements their grip on power and disbenefits the majority of that nations' population.
The opposition claim the fairness of this legislation is a black and white issue. However, as with almost all issues, it is far less clear cut than that. Environmental legislation is invariably going to be unfair to some. It is crucial, for example, to limit CO2 emissions in order not to unfairly cover Bangladesh in ocean through global warming. However, limiting CO2 emissions is unfair on oil producers and on developing nations yet to get beyond the stage Western economies went through in the industrial revolution - either choice is unfair to some.
Similarly, banning offshore drilling is vital to preserve the environment and encourage sustainable development, both of which are necessary for a fairer future.
Therefore, fairness can just as easily be used as an argument in favour of a ban as it can for an argument against a ban.
Well-regulated, local offshore drilling has environmentally friendly effects
The idea that only really holds for countries which both produce less oil than they use and have large offshore deposits, which is a rare thing indeed.
The US again provides an interesting example, as it has an estimated 86billion barrels of offshore reserves. But even this astounding sum would support the US for only 11 years, provided none of it was sold.[[http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-07-22/news/17173127_1_drilling-offshore-oil-oil-fields]] So even where the opposition's point holds, the benefits are slight.
Further more, the idea that offshore drilling performed by MEDCs will be better environmentally than onshore drilling by LEDCs doesn't hold. For example, to quote a source used by the opposition:
This shows that offshore drilling has serious consequences that outweigh the very slight benefits the opposition are citing.
Offshore drilling has global economic benefits
Moreover, countries which could supplement their oil sources with an additional, local one, will not only benefit themselves because of greater independence, and a more robust economy, but also help the other countries by reducing the global demand for oil and making the prices cheaper for others. Essentially, this would reduce the current monopolistic situation of regions like the Middle-East and Russia that produce most of the oil in the world. Rise in the number of oil sources also obviously leads to more competition resulting in additional price reduction on top of the price reduction that would occur due to lesser demand.
Reduced demand would not make producers stop operating - drillers would slow production to ensure maximum profit for their stocks, as OPEC already do regularly,[[http://bit.ly/9aj8A2]] but they would still drill eventually under the same lax regulations, with the same environmental impact.
We fail to grasp how reduced demand would encourage oil producers to make their oil production more eco-friendly. If anything, we feel that there would be incentives to cut costs no matter the environmental impact to maintain profits.
The opposition also either demonstrate a feeble grasp of economics, or are deliberately being deceitful. Increasing supply does not lower demand. In fact, basic economic theory shows that increasing supply increases demand [[http://bit.ly/9LFpSS]]. So by increasing the supply, you may lower the price in the short run, but you will also speed the depletion of oil.
Perhaps you mean that countries supplying themselves will then have lower demand for imported oil, and they may export some to increase global supply, but to treat these are two separate ways in which prices will be cut is deceitful - they are flipsides of the same coin, and it would be more honest simply to talk of the increase in supply.
Despite fallacious presentation of the point, it is true that increased supply of oil would reduce the price. However, as previously stated, the amounts of oil are too small to have a big impact on prices.
Thus, we feel the global economic benefits are limited, and the fallacious presentation of the opposition's points suggest that they too realise this point is weak
Offshore drilling prevents environmentally-unfriendly effects
Unlike sudden oil spill accidents, natural oil seeps continue for a very long time.If oil naturally seeps into the ocean and pollutes the environment, why shouldn’t the oil be drilled and removed?There are NO benefits to oil seeps and it is harmful to the environment to let it continue. Oil spills caused by offshore drilling, which occur VERY rarely, should be weighed less than natural oil seeps which have not only absolute but also more harmful long-term consequences.The general public is ignorant of natural oil seeps and exaggerates the risks of offshore oil drilling, which when compared to oil seeps are safer. The consequences of natural oil seeps are inevitable while offshore oil drilling accidents can be prevented by responsible supervision.
It is farcical to say that seepage has"more long-term consequences" and that oil drilling is safer than natural seeps. While large amounts of oil do seep into the sea all the time, it is simply untrue to claim that this is particularly harmful. Because the seeps are natural, the surrounding environment is adapted to cope with the oil in a way it cannot for masses released by accidents with offshore drilling.[[http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000127082228.htm]] For example, the oil released through seepage is at such a rate that microbes are able to break it down at the rate of production and there is no build up[[http://www.eoearth.org/article/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill]], with only enough for a very thin layer ever able to reach the surface. This surface oil causes no problems and continues to be broken down or evaporated. By contrast, oil spills flood smaller areas with lots of oil over a shorter period and overwhelm microbial systems.
We struggle to comprehend how the opposition can point out the minor issues of seepage with horror and yet be so blasé about the much greater issues resulting from offshore drilling.
The proposition spent two of their arguments on delineating how potential oil spills from offshore rigs could be terrible. We countered by stating that large offshore accidents are extremely rare with only 2 notable accidents in the last 5 years out of 3000 offshore rigs currently operating, and 17000 wells recently drilled. Moreover, we said that if regulated well, disasters could be effectively prevented, and substantiated our claim by BP's terrible safety record and the example of Norway who hasn't ever had any significant accidents since it started drilling offshore in 1971. To this, the proposition replied with again citing BP's accident and saying that there exists a rig in Norway that "might" spill oil. We therefore believe that no evidence showing that offshore drilling accidents are frequent and inevitable was provided.
In addition, the proposition did not reply to our point that drilling equipment has become much safer today.
The proposition has maintained that the amount of oil to be had from offshore drilling was too small to affect economies. Yet they themselves said that offshore oil in the Mexican Gulf could wholly support the U.S. - by far the largest consumer of oil in the world - for 11 years or for 22 years if the U.S. supplied half of its demand from offshore oil. Further, we provided the data which showed that 30% of all oil consumption came from offshore. We also said that more offshore drilling would reduce oil prices due to more competition and lesser demand. The proposition kept dismissing all of these points by saying that the amount of offshore oil was little, which was proven to be not true. The proposition also completely ignored the facts that thousands of highly-paid workers would lose their jobs, nations would lose vast amounts of tax profit, and LEDCs would suffer heavily if offshore drilling was banned.
The proposition kept simplistically telling us that we should reduce our oil consumption and satisfy the resulting huge energy demand using renewable resources. This approach suggests that the proposition had not consulted the reality of the world situation today. Renewable energy technology nowhere near capable of realistically meeting the world's energy demand. The proposition also said that banning offshore drilling would provide more money for renewable resource technology development although how this would occur was not explained.
Therefore, we see that the three major points in the debate were refuted, and other minor points covered in the comments section of the debate.
Thus, the opposition firmly believes that we should not ban offshore oil drilling, and the motion does not stand.
What do you think?