The Issue: The energy sector is in a time of transition. The oil and gas industry has been one of the most active industries on the continental margins and continues to expand into the deep sea, particularly in the exclusive economic zones of less developed countries and potentially with the exploitation of gas hydrate resources. The potential impacts of this development were profoundly illustrated by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout event, and the risks of additional incidents increase as activity moves deeper and deeper. However, this industry has taken a down-turn in recent years, particularly after the COVID pause in the global economy. Now, nations are turning to renewable sources of offshore energy, particularly wind power. While the risks of alternative energy are obviously far less than drilling for hydrocarbons, the basic principles of offshore environmental impact assessments that are common to the oil and gas industry are still applicable to renewable energy infrastructure as well as other activities in deep waters. Furthermore, if offshore drilling activity declines, what will be done with all of the production platforms, drilling rigs, oil wells, and pipelines that remain? How will we transition this workforce into a new, sustainable economy?
The Working Group: The Offshore Energy working group aims to facilitate science-policy engagement on deep-sea issues relevant to offshore drilling, offshore energy development, decommissioning, and economic transitions. We seek to apply our expertise in deep-sea survey techniques, environmental impact assessments, and energy policy to the pressing issues of our transitioning economy. The group currently has 74 members from academia, industry, and governments around the world.