An attack against U.S. deep-water drilling infrastructure would have tremendous economic and environmental consequences
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A major attack on deep-water drilling infrastructure could have many immediate effects, but two stand out. First, the environmental damage could be devastating. Residents around the Gulf of Mexico are still feeling the repercussions of the 2010 explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig, and the cleanup costs have already reached into the tens of billions. Yet Deepwater Horizon was only one of thousands of production platforms and drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, many of which belong to vast networks of undersea wells, pumps, and valves connected by thousands of miles of pipeline.
Second, an attack could cause a major disruption in global energy supplies. About one-third of global oil production now occurs offshore, with the largest fields in the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. Onshore facilities along the Gulf Coast that are connected to sea-based ports by submarine pipelines account for over 40 percent of total U.S. oil-refining capacity and over 30 percent of U.S. natural-gas-processing capacity. Both in the United States and elsewhere, oil companies have increasingly ventured into deep and ultradeep water (greater than 1,000 and 5,000 feet, respectively). Over the past decade, global investment in offshore oil and gas infrastructure has steadily increased, from about $100 billion to over $300 billion annually. The estimated volume of newly discovered oil and gas reserves in deep water now exceeds that onshore and in shallow water. And by 2035, forecasts suggest, deep-water wells will account for 11 percent of total global production, up from six percent in 2013.