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Concerns of Coastal States With Offshore Operations—Real and Fictitious—And the Effect of Those Concerns

Philip K. Verleger, Offshore Exploration, Drilling and Development (1975)

The offshore oil industry lives today in an extraordinarily complex environment. In the past, such operations took place largely off Texas and Louisiana, friendly jurisdictions. Today, other States — California, Alaska, Florida, and the States of the Eastern Seaboard generally — may be affected. And today, we have to look at expanded operations as affected both by the energy crisis and the environmental movement. In that atmosphere, offshore operations have to face coastal State concerns sometimes approaching hostility. What are those concerns? From what do they arise?

In order to discuss concerns of coastal States, one needs a picture of an offshore field and the supporting facilities. That picture varies at different stages of development.

During the early exploration phase, the physical facilities involved are primarily floating drilling vessels, plus the ports that provide the bases from which these vessels operate. There are staging areas where drill pipe and other essentials are assembled. Once one reaches the development stage (which overlaps continued exploration), there is more. There are platforms which may be just outside the three-mile limit, beyond the horizon, or somewhere between. Such platforms, for those who have not seen them, are massive structures on steel legs from which a number of oil wells are operated. One or two derricks, tanks, a h