Proponents of offshore drilling look to the U.S. continental shelf as a means to decrease reliance on foreign oil. Critics, however, point to the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year as an indication of the risks.
Lamar McKay, the chief executive of BP's gulf coast restoration organization, told an offshore energy conference in Houston that deep waters could be the future of energy.
"(T)he deep water is indispensable to the world's energy future," he said. "Indeed, we estimate that the percentage of world oil production coming from the deep water will rise to around 10 percent by 2020."
Oil demand, he added, should increase from 85 million barrels per day to more than 102 million bpd by 2030 despite the overall transition to a low-carbon economy.
McKay pointed to the farthest reaches of Alaska as an area where international energy companies are looking for new energy resources. About 20 percent of the undiscovered oil and natural gas reserves are thought to be in deep waters.
As a result of the Gulf of Mexico disaster, 10 of the largest energy companies in the world joined the non-profit Marine Well Containment Co. A response system developed by the MWCC can operate in water depths of 8,000 feet and could contain as much as 60,000 barrels of fluid per day.
"BP is continuing to test new technology and working with industry groups on response planning and developing enhanced standards and capabilities," added McKay.