Exxon, Shell and Chevron Eye Atlantic Coast Oil

Tim Donaghy
Jan 26, 2016 · 3 min read

Originally published at www.greenpeace.org/usa on January 26, 2015.


Exxon’s Hondo Oil Drilling Platform in the Santa Barbara Channel.

Sharks are circling in the Atlantic ocean, and we’re not referring to the majestic wildlife found there.

International oil supermajors Exxon, Shell and Chevron have all submitted public comments urging the government to open up as much of the U.S. coastline to oil exploration as possible, in particular the Atlantic offshore area stretching from Virginia to Georgia.

What’s at Stake

But giant oil companies are using every ounce of their political clout to make sure they continue to have easy access to resources owned by the American people.

In public comments submitted last year regarding the draft five-year program, Exxon, Shell and Chevron all called for opening up the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to leasing and attacked even the minor protections that the plan included. Exxon lamented that the program authorized oil and gas leasing in “only” eight of the 26 offshore planning areas and warned that any further restrictions would have “deleterious consequences” for the domestic economy.

All of the oil companies criticized a planned buffer zone that prohibits oil drilling within 50 miles of the shore — a protection that would likely cut profit margins for the drillers as they are forced to explore in deeper water. They also requested that the lease sale (currently planned for 2021) be moved to a sooner date.

Beneath the Surface

Drilling platform Neddrill 7, a joint Exxon/Shell project, in the Frisian Front, North Sea.

These comments do not necessarily mean that these companies will end up bidding on Atlantic leases or ultimately drilling for oil. Conversely, companies who did not comment (such as BP) may later decide to pursue the Atlantic. The companies will likely wait to see the data on oil and gas deposits collected by seismic testing, which is planned to take place later this year, before making any decisions.

But such public comments do indicate that Exxon and friends are keeping tabs on the Atlantic and are following the details of the lease process closely. Oil companies are constantly depleting their proven reserves and in order to keep their financial backers happy, they must constantly be searching for new places to drill — a strategy that is flatly inconsistent with a healthy and stable climate.

What’s Next

Make your voice heard: tell President Obama that it’s time to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Keep It in the Ground

Science has spoken: the path to a sustainable future for people, wildlife and the planet does not include fossil fuels. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to keep it in the ground. Sign the petition to #keepitintheground here: http://bit.ly/FossilFreeFuture

Tim Donaghy

Written by

Lapsed physicist, ex-immigrant, current Oaklander. Running, hiking, musicing, dadding, scienceing, etc. Researcher for @greenpeaceusa. Views are my own.

Keep It in the Ground

Science has spoken: the path to a sustainable future for people, wildlife and the planet does not include fossil fuels. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to keep it in the ground. Sign the petition to #keepitintheground here: http://bit.ly/FossilFreeFuture

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