Concerns Surrounding Environmental Hazards of Offshore Drilling to Restrain Market in Future

Crude oil and the host of products derived from it are central to the operation of a limitless number of applications. It is estimated that the world consumes nearly 100 mn barrels of crude oil and related products every day. The figure is a rough estimate and undergoes fluctuations more or less at the rate at which the population expands, industries grow, and the global demand for power increases. To meet this mounting and ever-increasing demand for oil, oil and gas production companies are constantly on the lookout for new reserves. Since oceans cover as much as three quarters of the earth’s surface, a large share of the world’s oil and gas reserves is located underwater.

Exploring these reserves and producing substantial quantities of oil and gas from them is a big challenge though. Drilling in lightless oceanic depths and transporting the produces back to storage systems to the surface requires tons of special equipment and technological expertise. This special equipment and technical knowhow form the core of offshore drilling activities. As the name suggests, offshore drilling refers to exploration activities that are undertaken away from seashores, in deep, or even ultra-deep waters.

The global market for offshore drilling has gained traction in the past years, the reasons being the surging rise for crude oil and gas to sustain the ever-rising needs from the burgeoning global population, industrialization, and need for power.

Mentioned below are some of the most crucial outlines of the global offshore drilling market as examined by TMR analysts:

Q. What percentage of global oil and gas reserves is accounted for by the global offshore drilling market?
A. Offshore drilling activities are responsible for the production of nearly 30% of the world’s oil production and over 27% of the world’s gas production. The percentages have remained steady since the beginning of the 21st century and are unlikely to decline anytime soon. Of the globe’s total oil reserves, nearly 20% are located at offshore locations; 30% of the world’s total gas reserves are located at offshore locations.

Q. Which is the most lucrative regional market for offshore drilling?

A. North America presently holds the leading position in the global offshore drilling market and the regional market holds immense growth opportunities owing to the presence of some of the world’s largest onshore oil and gas resources and world’s leading oil and gas companies. Although North America is projected to maintain its dominant stance in the global offshore drilling market in the coming years, the market will see growth at the fastest pace in Asia Pacific. Recent discoveries of vast offshore oil and gas reserves in the South China Sea, Gulf of Thailand, and Australia will prove to be catalytic for the global offshore drilling market in the region.

Q. Offshore drilling is often considered harmful to the environment. What are the concerns surrounding this issue? 

A. As the depth of drilling activities increases, the risks of spills, accidents, and fires also increase. One of the major reason for this increased danger is the necessity of complex equipment for drilling at the increasingly deeper sites common in offshore drilling activities. As offshore drilling companies continue to push drilling to newer and greater depths, penetrating further underwater, the drilling technology required to achieve these feats continues to become more complex and not entirely invincible.

Another reason that increases the danger of offshore drilling activities posing a hazard to the environment through oil spills and other accidents is the harsh environments common to offshore drilling activities. Conditions such as severe weather and storms pose significant risks to the functionality of the drilling rigs; their distant locations from land make it difficult to promptly begin rescue efforts.

Q. How are these concerns affecting the global offshore drilling market?

A. Recent oil leaks owing to offshore drilling activities, such as the 88,000-gallon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, have fired up arguments regarding the safety of offshore drilling activities. Around 1,300 protestors marched the streets in Washington, DC, in North America to protest against future oil drilling projects. In another event, several protestors in New Orleans crashed an offshore drilling lease auction for future drilling activities to be undertaken in the Gulf of Mexico.

As such protests become more severe, stringent guidelines are expected to be initiated concerning the safety of offshore drilling activities in the future. The increasingly restrictive regulatory scenario will bring about a major change in the overall dynamics of the global offshore drilling market and affect several crucial business decisions.


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