The implications of oil exploration off the Gulf Coast of Florida

Jake R. Nelson, Anthony Grubesic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In the United States (U.S.), oil exploration and production remain critical economic engines for local, state, and federal economies. Recently, the U.S. Department of the Interior expressed interest in expanding offshore oil production by making available lease areas in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. West Coast and East Coast, as well as offshore Alaska. With the promise of aiding in energy independence, these new lease areas could help solidify the U.S. as one of the world's largest oil-producing countries, while at the same time bolstering the local and regional energy job sectors. Of all the newly proposed lease areas, the Gulf Coast of Florida is particularly contentious. Opponents of drilling in the area cite the sensitive ecosystems and the local and state tourism economy that depends heavily on the numerous beaches lining Florida's coast. In this analysis, we use a data-driven spatial analytic approach combined with advanced oil spill modeling to determine the potential impact of oil exploration off of Florida's Gulf Coast given a loss-of-control event. It is determined that plume behavior varies drastically depending on the location of the spill but that overall impacts are comparable across all spill scenario sites, highlighting the necessity of contingency-type analyses. Implications for spill response are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number30
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2018


  • Contingency planning
  • Impact modeling
  • Oil spill
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering


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