Wash. Post headline -- "Offshore drilling backed as remedy for oil prices" -- undermined by article itself

››› ››› LILY YAN

The Washington Post ran an article under the headline "Offshore Drilling Backed as Remedy for Oil Prices," but the article itself noted that "the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration [EIA] said that .... 'Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.' " The article also noted that the EIA said that "access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030."

A July 14 Washington Post article appeared under the headline "Offshore Drilling Backed as Remedy for Oil Prices" and the subhead "Push for U.S. Exploration Gains Traction, but Big Political Hurdles Remain." However, the article itself noted that "the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration [EIA] said that .... 'Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.' " The article also noted that the EIA said that "access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017." Both quotes come from the "Issues in Focus" section of the EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2007 report.

From the front page of the July 14 edition of The Washington Post:

Washington Post

From the article:

[Sen. John] McCain told reporters last month that "we have untapped oil reserves of at least 21 billion barrels in the United States." In fact, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there are "undiscovered conventionally recoverable resources" of 17.8 billion barrels. That's not the same thing as "reserves." In the oil business, "reserves" refers to oil that has been found and "proven," whereas "resources" refers to promising geological structures where the presence of oil remains uncertain.

In the eastern Gulf of Mexico, those "resources" are likely to represent actual oil because the geology is an extension of the western Gulf of Mexico, where oil has been drilled for years. There is less certainty about what may lie off the Atlantic coast.

If, in fact, there are 17.8 billion barrels of oil offshore, that would equal half the reserves of Nigeria or about 60 percent of proven U.S. reserves. It could substantially reduce U.S. imports for a decade or two or sustain U.S. production when other fields decline.

But developing those resources would take time. A report last year by the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said that "access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017." It added, "Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant."

Posted In
Environment & Science, Drilling, Energy
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post
Stories/Interests
Gas Prices
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