Offshore Drilling and Florida's Gulf: How Much Oil Is There?

ST. PETERSBURG (4-6-2010) -

In the long-running debate over offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, one question always comes up: how much oil and gas is really out there?

USF Geological Oceanographer Al Hine says that close to shore, he wouldn’t expect to find much oil, because of Florida’s geography. But farther away -- past the 125-mile limit being proposed by the Obama Adminisrtation -- more oil may be available.

He said Florida sits on top of a large, limestone platform, which extends 125 miles offshore into the Gulf.

They are full of cavities, and make it a bad trap for hydrocarbons, as compared to the northern or western Gulf.

But he said there may be more oil farther from shore – 125 miles to 150 miles from St. Petersburg.

And, there may be more natural gas than oil in areas closer to shore, he said.

Environmental groups claim there’s just a 6-month supply of oil in these waters.

But Hine says there may be more. The government’s data is old and incomplete. And the industry is spending millions to explore deep waters far from shore.

“The oil industry is right now out there, shooting seismic, it’s all proprietary data, it’s extremely expensive,” he said. “If they didn’t think there was anything there, they wouldn’t be spending the money.”

CLICK HERE to listen to full interview with Dr. Al Hine, a geological oceanographer at USF's College of Marine Science

There's more about proposed oil and gas exploration in the Gulf on Florida Matters.

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