Big Finds: Many huge oilfields
lie beneath the sea. Major offshore
discoveries in Mexico, the North
Sea, and West Africa have all
fueled the boom in drilling.
Smooth Operator: Because
they are largely isolated from
communities, offshore projects
may be easier to negotiate with
host governments or require less
stringent environmental impact
Public Perception: Offshore
rigs create limited observable
impact on local communities.
Offshore production facilities
are also more insulated from
the threat of sabotage.
Money: Offshore development
ventures require heavy investment.
Deep-water enterprises require
favorable geology and extensive
exploration before oil companies
will place a bet on them.
Environmental Damage: Studies
show that waste discharged from
offshore rigs, including drilling
"muds," drill cuttings, and produced
formation water, can have significant
impacts on marine environments.
Completion: Disposal of
abandoned or decommissioned
offshore rigs is a tricky business.
While some platforms can be
moved or recycled, some must
be sunk with explosives.