I'm a Texan by birth and an erstwhile junior officer in a major offshore drilling contractor. My wife, on the other hand, is a Floridian, born and raised in Sarasota, home of the nation's primo beach. Between us, then, we have more than a passing interest in Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's new support for considering the removal of the ban on drilling in the waters off his state.
The hotly contested give-and-take is likely to linger for some time. But in my rarely tentative opinion, the issue deserves careful attention, since it could mean immense investing and lifestyle implications for Fools and non-Fools alike. On the investing front, it's difficult to imagine how the many effects of steadily increasing crude prices can fail to severely jolt the equities markets, perhaps irrevocably.
At the same time, if the currently closed offshore areas really do contain anywhere close to the 17.8 billion barrels of oil that have been estimated (I wonder how estimates can emerge with such precision?), both the economy and the oilfield services sector stand to benefit meaningfully. Indeed, the Gulf of Mexico, in oilfield parlance, has heretofore meant just those waters off Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. But opening Florida – and, potentially, other coastal areas -- to the ministrations of Transocean
In fact, while they may not realize it, environmentalists -- I'm one of those, as well -- would almost certainly like the results of expanded drilling. Aside from the benefit of lower fuel prices, it is worth noting that well completion techniques have become so sophisticated and dependable that when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita took out 1,000 wells in the Gulf, none leaked. That strong evidence alone should dispel the concerns of those who are convinced that their favorite beach in Sarasota, for instance, would be doomed by proximate drilling.
So watch these unfolding events, Fools. They could mean a lot for your quality of life. And their potential effects on your oilfield services portfolio should be equally obvious. On that basis, I'll note that all the companies mentioned above are excellent operations.
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