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Pros and Cons of Offshore Drilling

Ishani Chatterjee Shukla
With the never-ending, ever-increasing demand for petroleum spanning the entire globe and the environmental consequence of such tremendously extensive drilling for oil looming large, it's time we discussed the pros and cons of offshore drilling in an attempt to find out whether what has happened till now should continue in the future.
You all must have heard of oil drilling or drilling to get oil out of the Earth's crust. So what is offshore drilling? Is it any different from oil drilling? Well no, offshore drilling is when you drill for oil off the coast of a continent. In other words, all drilling for oil that takes place in the waters (seas and oceans) that surround the continental landmass comes within the scope of offshore drilling.
Although sometimes drilling for oil in inland lakes and seas is also referred to as offshore drilling, the overall implication points towards drilling in off-coast waters. Now, oil spills and water contamination as a result is not a new phenomenon - the history of these environmental hazards is as old as the history of oil drilling itself.
However, petroleum being such a valuable natural resource for humanity as a whole, these hazards haven't impeded mankind to continue mining for this resource. Remember, it's not just our fuel requirements that petroleum fulfills.
From gasoline to cosmetics, from medicines to fertilizers, we ourselves don't realize the magnitude of our dependence on petroleum. Bearing these two points - hazardous effects on environment and importance of petroleum in our lives - in mind, let's proceed towards finding out the pros and cons of offshore drilling for oil.

What are the Advantages and Liabilities of Offshore Drilling?

Take a look at the various pros and cons of oil drilling off coast, dig deeper beyond the words and understand the complete implications of each point and then weight pros against the cons to decide for yourself whether the course on which we are headed is the right one or not.


  • Increased domestic oil production leading to self-sufficiency and decreased dependency on oil-economies for fulfilling individual domestic petroleum demand;
  • Self sufficiency in oil production leads to reduction of domestic oil prices which takes off a lot of inflationary pressure that results from purchasing oil in the international market;
  • Offshore drilling creates more employment opportunities for the domestic population and this is a great boost to the overall economy;
  • More countries going for offshore drilling means more countries to implement precautionary measures and anti-hazard equipment for preventing and fixing oil spills around domestic shores;
  • The government gets to earn more and higher revenues when it opens restricted areas to entrepreneurs in return for royalties. This increases the national income as well.


  • The major negative impact of offshore drilling is borne by the environment as the contamination of water as a┬áresult of oil spills┬áis fatal to all marine life in the local and neighboring waters;
  • Huge amounts of funding is required to finance the construction of offshore oil drilling facilities and for maintenance and observation of related logistics issues;
  • The chances of pollution to the coast and surrounding areas in immediate vicinity of the offshore drilling facility increases greatly;
  • Offshore drilling does not necessarily reduce gasoline prices as besides the direct raw material, a number of other variables are also involved in determining gas prices;
  • Also, the question of reduced international dependency looms large as there is no guarantee that one would not need to purchase oil from the international market if domestic offshore drilling is started because it all depends on the equilibrium of domestic demand for oil and the ability of offshore drilling activities to fully satisfy such a demand;
  • As an extension to the previous point, it can also not be the case for every country to be able to drill out as much oil as is annually required for domestic consumption as it all depends upon the natural deposits available for drilling off a specific coast. Not all areas of the world are equally endowed with all resources.
If you've been reading carefully, a thought must have flashed across your mind that points towards the materialistically selfish overtones of the pros of offshore drilling. Come to think of it, the so-called pros are only in terms of benefit to humans in material terms. The cons, however, present a more realistic picture of what are the pragmatic possibilities of going for offshore drilling.
Starting offshore drilling would neither significantly lower our dependency on other countries for oil nor would it ensure reduced carbon emissions. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not the pessimist that the above statement might have made me appear. I'm just being realistic about the offshore drilling debate and reality can be pretty scary. Give it a serious thought.