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SunshineStateNews: Seismic Surveys off Florida’s Coast Will Aid Economy, National Security

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

By: Nicolás Gutiérrez

If you have paid attention to the news lately, you have no doubt seen the tensions, civil war and terrorist attacks facing many countries around the world. What many of these countries have in common is a major influence on the production or transportation of oil and natural gas, which is essential to all developed nations.

These are countries the United States is connected to because of those natural resources. In order to drive our vehicles, deliver our goods, run our businesses and operate our economy, we rely on these energy sources while alternative energy supplies are being developed. And we have more of our own resources available than we even know off the Atlantic Coast.

The Mid-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf may have billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas available, which can help lead America toward energy independence from these unstable countries. The Obama administration in recent weeks has given approval to use 3D seismic surveying to discover what may exist off our coasts. This is good news for our country and for Florida, particularly Northeast Florida.

More than 30 years ago, people believed the Outer Continental Shelf had 3 billion barrels of oil and 31 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, but those estimates were made using obsolete technology. Now, we have advanced seismic technology that utilizes compressed air and sound equipment to create 3D maps of what oil and natural gas reserves exist below the ocean floor. With much greater precision, we can see where these assets are, which requires fewer wells, more efficient drilling and better protection of our environment and wildlife. It is a highly regulated practice that takes into consideration marine life to minimize impacts.

The fact is, we don’t really know what’s out there and we won’t know until we look with the right tools. For example, the Gulf of Mexico has so far yielded six times the oil and natural gas it was estimated to contain in the 1980s, and the Outer Continental Shelf reserves are likely to be five to six times greater than originally thought, as well.

If oil and gas production in the Outer Continental Shelf could produce millions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, create tens of thousands of jobs, and generate billions in revenue for our state and federal governments, it will lead to a major economic boost to a country continuing to operate in major debt. If substantial, those reserves could help meet our state’s and our nation’s energy needs, revitalize our economy, and reduce our dangerous dependence on unreliable foreign sources of oil. The economic and national security benefits could be enormous.

Seismic surveys and the resulting information are simply a means of gaining the data we need to make intelligent decisions. Knowledge is power and utilizing the latest technology to better understand our options is not only a first step, but it’s an important first step we must take.

Some are encouraging opposition to this technology, which is foolish. Nearly 300,000 jobs are already supported by the oil and natural gas industry in Florida. Seismic surveying can further that number with smart policy decisions. Northeast Florida should embrace seismic surveying technology so we know what oil and natural gas exists off of Florida’s coast in federal waters and we can start the process of ending our dependence on oil from war-torn countries and nations with unstable leaders.

Nicolás J. Gutiérrez Jr. is state chairman for the FLA Energy Forum.

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