Number of U.S. offshore drilling rigs as of 3/07/14 are at 1,792, fifty-five of which are offshore rigs, while 1,737 are inland. This makes offshore drilling very minimal and would probably not matter if offshore drilling was reduced or cut all together. The U.S. alone uses a quarter (20.8 million barrels.) of the worlds daily oil use. These rigs are anywhere from a few hundred feet to 200 miles off the land. Primarily in the Gulf of Mexico and around Louisiana, Texas, and Alaska.
51% of the oil that the U.S. uses comes from a foreign source, so offshore drilling will not make us independent of foreign countries oil and 30% comes from offshore drilling, not even half.
Some background, the first offshore drill was used in 1887, about 80 years after the first initial inland rig. For awhile there was a ban on offshore drilling, since that ban has been lifted the government can now drill where ever they want inside their boundaries.
Alternatives to oil are other sources of energy, renewable energy that is. Renewable energy sources are things such as wind or solar power. While they currently are costly, every year new inventions and ways to make solar energy more economical are popping up. Also, inland drilling is still a thing, these drills don't usually spill or hard animals or ruin food sources. While there are already so many oil rigs inland you'd think that offshore drilling wouldn't be such a huge concern.
How do they work though? For starters, there are multiple types of offshore oil rigs and equipment used for drilling. A quick list
tension leg platform
conductor support system
Each have their own specific function and purpose. Some platforms are used for drilling deeper or reaching deeper seabed. Also some are built to be unmanned or remote controlled and only need to be visited for a routine maintenance check. Some are removable and able to be moved and some are not. Either way the huge platforms are mainly for housing crew, storage, and for equipment. Now while each type of platform acts different and has their own attributes the mainly all work under a general system. All rigs have a hoisting system to raise and lower a pipe to drill a water well. "Spudding in" is a term used for the initial drilling of a water well. The hoist then lowers the drill bit and pipe down to the seabed, then the drill bit and well is surrounding with a mud substance that keeps other water or liquids from entering the well, keeping the drill bit cool and lubricated, and also to stabilize pressure. Once the well is drilled a smaller pipe is inserted in the well and cement and mud are sent down to secure the casing in the well. Once it is all secured, oil can now be pumped to the platform.
List of 10 Largest Oil Spills
1. Gulf War, 1991. Kuwait, 240 to 226 million gallons.
2. Ixtoc 1 Oil Well, 1979. Bay of Campeche, Mexico, 140 million gallons
3. Atlantic eXPRESS, 1979. Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies, 88.3 million gallons
4. Fergana Valley, 1992. Uzbekistan, 87.7 million gallons
5. Nowruz Oil Field, 1983. Persian Gulf, 80 million gallons
6. Abt Summer, 1991. Off the coast of Angola, 80 million gallons
7. Castillo de Bellver, 1983. Off Saldanha Bay, South Africa, 78.5 million
8. Amoco Cadiz, 1978. Off Brittany, France, 68.7 million
9. Odyssey Oil Spill, 1988. 700 nautical miles off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada, 43 million gallons
10. M/T Haven Tanker, 1991. Genoa, Italy, 42 million gallons
More on alternatives sources. Wind, solar, and hydro energy are all a small fraction of the worlds energy use, oil dominates by far. Also at the moment solar energy, such as building, maintaining, and operating a solar plant, more costly than using oil. But in the long run these sources of energy are supposed to get cheaper to manufacture and use. While some methods may be more costly, in the long run they would have tremendous effects. Alternatives sources of energy are mostly renewable and don't require us to dig up anything. Solar takes in the sun's energy, hydro uses water such as the Hoover Dam, and large Wind turbines harvest wind energy to operate a generator to produce electricity. These are freestanding and simple solutions and in comparison to oil are much much cleaner. Mostly because they don't really give off anything after the energy is created. Oil produces emissions, gas, and pollute the air and kill our ozone layer, while alternative sources simply continuously take in.
Some info graphs and diagrams of different drilling and oil information.
video of the process of drilling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQtDiX2Dbr0
For my overall direction I either would like to explore the topics of "where our oil is going and how it is being used", "oil spills", or "other sources of energy"