Deepwater and Arctic drilling for oil and gas have evolved as resources in easier to reach environments have been exhausted. Offshore drilling has been happening in places like the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico for the best part of half a century. In the last decade or so drilling has pushed out into deeper and deeper water as production from shallower waters have decline, and energy prices have risen. Where once drilling was confined to water not much more than a thousand feet deep, in recent years this has risen to almost 10,000 feet (about 2 miles) of water. Now a major push is under way to start drilling in the Arctic Ocean and also in water deeper than 10,000 feet. include the Gulf of Mexico, North Atlantic, Eastern Mediterranean, East and West Africa and Brazil.
The dangers associated with offshore drilling are high, both for workers and the environment. These dangers mount quickly as the drilling moves out into more extreme environments, into deeper waters or arctic regions. Deeper water means larger waves and greater difficulty anchoring things securely, while the Arctic means far worse weather and icebergs to contend with. This was amply demonstrated by the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster when a well blowout in 5,000 feet of water gushed 5 million barrels of oil over 87 days, until it was finally capped. A similar blowout in over 10,000 feet of water, or in the Arctic, would probably be unfixable. As most with most extreme energy it is also just added to exiting fossil fuel reserves, most of which we cannot afford to burn without triggering catastrophic climate change.