Military Commanders Understand the Value of Energy Security

April 21, 2018

Sun Tzu, Chinese General

By William L. Schachte, Jr Rear Admiral. JAGC, USN (Ret.)
Vets4Energy volunteer Chairman, South Carolina

Chinese general and military strategist Sun Tzu wrote in his famous tract The Art of War, "every battle is won before it is ever fought."

Sun Tzu understood what successful military commanders have understood throughout the ages: the battle is won in the preparation. During my over 30-year tenure in the Navy, we knew that if we weren't already prepared for the battle well in advance, it would be too late when the time for action arrived.

The same philosophy applies to America's approach to energy development and energy security.

Offshore natural gas and oil development is a critical component of future U.S. energy security. Only 6 percent of U.S. offshore acreage is open to energy development, and that small area punches above its weight - with the Gulf of Mexico supplying 18 percent of our oil production, 1.6 million barrels per day.

That's why the Trump administration's plan to open more of the restricted 94 percent - including promising areas in the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic and Eastern Gulf of Mexico - is so important. Last week's Gulf lease sale for areas close to current production has received a lot of media attention, but it doesn't tell us much about opportunities in the vast underexplored portions of offshore territory.

The most current assessments of recoverable energy resources offshore in the Atlantic estimated 4.7 billion barrels of oil and 37.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. However, those were based off of seismic surveys conducted over 30 years ago with the technology of that time. To give you an idea of how much technology has improved, let's take a quick look at the Gulf of Mexico. In 1987 the experts estimated only 9.57 billion barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2011, using more recent seismic data and exploratory drilling, that estimate rose to 48 billion barrels of oil - a fivefold increase. And it should be noted that even the Obama administration's Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management after extensive studies concluded recent methods of seismic testing do not harm the marine environment. Additionally current and safe technology will permit extracting natural gas and oil in a manner which could not be seen from our coastal beaches.
This isn't the time to be on the sidelines. This is the time to prepare to take advantage of these incredible offshore energy opportunities to help ensure America's energy security for years to come.

Veterans also know something else: you can't be ruled by fear. In this case, that's the fear proffered by some who say we can't or shouldn't take advantage of our American stores of energy. While they are right that we should be exploring renewable sources of energy, the reality is that those forms of energy aren't ready to power our nation and our economy yet.

America's ascension to a global energy superpower through taking advantage of our natural gas and oil resources is a modern miracle. We can't and shouldn't put our energy security on hold while we wait for the renewable energy future to arrive.

We must live in the now and prepare for the future. We must win this battle before it's fought. And that means seizing the opportunity for increased energy security offshore.

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