Even Daniel Ortega, the leftist president of Nicaragua, understands the importance of offshore oil exploration in the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico waters. The International Herald-Tribune reports:
Nicaragua has signed a contract with a unit of U.S.-owned MKJ Xploration to explore and develop oil and natural gas fields off its Caribbean coast, officials said Wednesday.
Under the six-year deal, a subsidiary of the Metairie, Louisiana-based company will search for oil about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the shore in Caribbean waters. It will be granted a 30-year contract to produce oil and natural gas if it finds anything, a government news release said.
In contrast to fomrer Communist Ortega, both Florida and California do not permit new oil development in their offshore waters, which hold great promise. Along with ANWR and federal lands in the West, these potentially very rich oil fields are out of bounds for commercial oil development, so no oil company is willing to spend the money to gain further knowledge of the extent of the oil potential. When anti-oil critics dismiss ANWR as supplying less than a year's worth of oil for America, they refer to only the potential so far explored. The full extent of the deposits in these areas remains unknown.
Oil drilling technology has vastly improved since the late 1960s, when offshore wells in the Santa Barbara Channel leaked oil and focused the nation's attention of offshore wells as hazardous. And despite heartbreaking pictures of waterfowl mired in crude, the experience of cleaning up oil spills in fragile environments like Prince William Soiund in Alaska, where the Exxon Valdez spilled massive amounts of oil, reveals that recovery is swifter and more complete than doomsayers wish to believe.
Hat tip: Joseph Crowley