Having been in the oil and gas drilling and production business for 40 years (petroleum engineering and geology) it has been interesting to see the dialogue about this subject recently.
It was about 40 years ago that oil and gas leasing off the East Coast was initiated. But the major oil companies could not justify the cost of drilling, production, transportation, etc. given the small estimates of the amount of oil reserves available offshore.
As mentioned in your recent editorial, however, there have been major technological developments since then in the areas of seismic data gathering and interpretation.
The one thing that I wanted to point out regarding your editorial is that we can't reasonably expect oil and gas companies to spend billions of dollars on getting leases, gathering seismic data, drilling and testing without assurance that, if these efforts are successful, then they have the right to proceed with developing those reserves.
I don't think that South Carolina has the luxury of waiting to see if it's successful, and then deciding it does not want to risk potential environmental issues after the fact.
You do make a good point, however, that the economic potential must be determined first before drilling is done. But that is the federal government's decision, not ours at that point.
So, either we decide to allow offshore drilling or not beforehand.
And if we do, we should let the free market system and economic potential dictate whether the oil and gas companies proceed.
Hilton Head Island