Offshore Energy Exploitation

by Bill Chameides | April 26th, 2010
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)

Permalink | 2 comments

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is expected to announce this week whether or not the proposed wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., will get the green light. (Pictured: Wind farm in Denmark, Source NOAA)

Updated May 11, 2010

Offshore energy has been in the news of late.

  1. Obama’s opening up new coastal areas for drilling (see Grok post);
  2. A failed oil rig is spewing crude into the Gulf; and
  3. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is considering giving the green light on a wind farm off of Cape Cod.

Not sure what it all means? Maybe some statistics will help.

Energy Potentials, by the Numbers

Estimated amount of oil (in gallons) leaking daily into Gulf of Mexico from failed deepwater rig, when estimates were first made: 42,000

Estimated amount of oil (in gallons) leaking daily into Gulf of Mexico from failed deepwater rig, by first week in May: 210,000

Number of gallons in a barrel of oil: 42

Maximum annual capacity of proposed Cape Wind farm (in megawatts): 420

That same capacity expressed in barrels of oil: almost 3 million

Potential energy per year from all planned offshore-wind projects on the East Coast (in megawatts): 1,700

That same potential expressed in barrels of oil: 11 million

Percentage of total East Coast wind energy that would be tapped by planned wind farms: 0.1

Estimated potential energy (in barrels of oil) from newly opened offshore drilling areas: 2-4 billion

Estimated number of years it will take to produce oil from new areas: ~10-15

Estimated year of peak oil production: 2030

Rough estimate of how much oil (in barrels) will be produced during peak production year: 7-18 million*

As you ponder, don’t forget that comparing wind energy and oil is a little like comparing apples and oranges — wind makes electricity, oil drives cars. But then again, I’ve heard that if you’re at the beach, face offshore, and look really hard, you can sometimes make out the vague image of an electric vehicle on the horizon. Some say it’s headed our way.

* Assumes 20 years to reach peak production. Value for peak production from newly opened areas derived from EIA estimate.

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  1. Blake Rodgers
    Apr 30, 2010

    Where are you getting your peak oil figure? This is much later than what I’m used to seeing. Wikipedia says that optimistic estimates are 2020, and pessimistic estimates are anywhere from already peaked to the next 5 years: As I’m sure you are well aware, time to peak has huge implications for energy pricing and economic disruption.

    • Erica Rowell (Editor)
      May 4, 2010

      Blake:Â The “estimated year of peak production” is a rough estimate of when oil production from the newly opened offshore areas will peak. This is not an estimate of when “peak oil” will occur.

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