The ten-year lie

While channel surfing last night, I caught this moveon.org attack ad aimed at GOP nominee in waiting John McCain:

The ad features a middle-aged man sitting a table. He speaks to the camera: “Senator McCain, you let me and my kids down. From the very beginning, I told them, ‘This is a principled guy.’ So when you said you were going to help make driving affordable again, I believed you. Then your idea is to do offshore drilling, which I find out won’t produce much oil for ten years and then barely save us any money anyway. That’s not a solution, Mr. McCain, that’s a gimmick. We expected better.”

Ten years? Where did they get that number? Turns out it’s a Democrat talking point, and it has absolutely no basis in fact. So how long does it really take to get an offshore oil rig producing? National Review’s Mark Hemingway visited a rig last December. He writes:

I flew down to the Gulf Coast to visit an offshore oil platform. They helicoptered me 165 miles out into the gulf and I stepped onto Brutus, a tension-linked platform anchored to the seafloor 3,000 feet below. It would be an understatement to say I was in awe. Until you’re actually standing on one you can’t begin to appreciate the sheer size and complexity of such a thing.

The platform is the size of a few football fields jammed together, and the top of the derrick was easily a few hundred feet off the water. Dozens of people lived on board, and everything — from the computer systems to the actual drilling rig — was state of the art. Brutus produced over 100,000 barrels of oil a day — down from over 300,000 at its peak capacity.

That sounds impressive. But here’s what truly floored me: Shell decided Brutus’s location in the gulf would be profitable for drilling in April 1999. The company then built the massive oil platform, transported it to the right location in the gulf, anchored the floating leviathan onto the seafloor 3,000 feet below, drilled 17,000 feet below that, and began producing oil in July 2001. It took only two years to get Brutus online.

Of course, it helps that the oil companies have plenty of money to throw at the problem. Constructing oil platforms can cost in the billions of dollars. A few new oil platforms equivalent to Brutus off-shore in the U.S. could easily account for the half a million barrels Senator Schumer claims are driving prices up.

We see it takes only two years – not ten – to get an offshore oil rig going, and that includes the total time from construction to production.

And just a few additional rigs similar to the one Hemmingway visited could easily produce half a million barrels of crude a day.

So the two main points of this moveon.ad ad – (1) that it takes ten years to get an offshore oil rig up to speed, and (2) that it won’t save us much money anyway, are easily debunked. There are several versions of this ad. I just heard one on talk radio aimed at Missouri’s Roy Blunt making the same ten-year claim.

Bottom line: This moveon.org ad is deceptive, misleading and disingenuous, three nicer ways of saying that they lied. That moveon.org intentionally tells lies in their attack ads is no revelation. That so many people believe these leftist lies without doing any fact-checking is sad.

  • JP