Research shows beachgoers negatively impacted by offshore oil platforms

Research shows beachgoers negatively impacted by offshore oil platforms
In some areas, California beach fans must live with offshore oil platforms. UD research indicates 16 percent of Delaware beachgoers would not go to a beach with oil platforms looming offshore. Credit: University of Delaware

Every year, visitors flock to Delaware's beaches for an opportunity to relax, soak up the sun and take a dip in the ocean.

But if offshore energy platforms—especially oil rigs—were installed off the Delaware coastline, many of those visitors would move their beach blankets elsewhere, according to University of Delaware research.

Forty percent of beachgoers responding to a UD survey that was administered in 2012 said their vacation experience would be negatively impacted, and 16 percent indicated they simply would not visit the beach with looming offshore.

The research was led by Jacob Fooks, who was a doctoral student in economics at UD when the research was conducted, and Kent Messer, the Unidel Howard Cosgrove Chair for the Environment in UD's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR).

Josh Duke, professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, and George Parsons, professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, are also authors on the paper which was published recently in the journal Energy Policy.

Messer said the results from the study should worry the leaders of beach communities who may be considering these offshore energy sources because they could experience a drop off of 10 to 15 percent of their visitors.

"Can the beach communities lose 15 percent of their tourists?," Messer said. "These people will go elsewhere and another 25 percent of the group is going to come and not really enjoy their visit as much. That's a big impact."

The research was conducted at Rehoboth Beach and Cape Henlopen from July 12–15 and July 29–August 1 in 2012.

A total of 525 people participated in the research by completing either a short survey about their opinions regarding a series of images of oil platforms and offshore at various distances or by taking a more in-depth, longer survey using computer simulations that presented images of oil platforms or wind turbines on the horizon at varying distances.

In both surveys, participants were shown oil platforms and wind turbines at different distances and asked if those structures would have enhanced, detracted or made no difference to their beach experiences.

Around 60 percent of those who took the short survey indicated that oil platforms would detract from their beach experience, compared with 25 percent for the wind turbines.

Those who took the longer survey were able to select a starting location for the energy platforms.

"Even at ten miles out, which was the farthest the participants could place the oil platforms, many of the respondents would not visit the Delaware beaches at this distance—even though they wouldn't be able to see the platforms," Messer said. "Participants were clearly concerned about the oil spills that could affect the beaches. In contrast, people were more comfortable with having wind turbines closer to the shore."

In January 2018, the Trump Administration announced a new five-year drilling plan that could open new areas along both U.S. coasts. Messer said that it is important for coastal communities to realize the negative view many of their visitors have for structures.

"Our research shows that beach visitors do not like these oil platforms and believe they would detract from their experience," Messer said. "A bunch of people said they wouldn't come to the Delaware beaches because of the presence of offshore oil platforms and a bunch of people indicated a negative sentiment, basically saying, 'I will still come to the but you've taken a bunch of the fun out of it.' This negative sentiment is important from a consumer welfare perspective. If you go somewhere and you don't like it, that's a real loss to society."

Explore further

Near-shore wind farms would have big impact on coastal tourism

More information: Jacob R. Fooks et al. Continuous attribute values in a simulation environment: Offshore energy production and Mid-Atlantic beach visitation, Energy Policy (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2017.08.005
Journal information: Energy Policy

Citation: Research shows beachgoers negatively impacted by offshore oil platforms (2018, June 21) retrieved 19 July 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jun 21, 2018
Did they get there in fossil-fueled cars? Do they not see the irony?

Our two family cars are fueled by the Sun.

Jun 22, 2018
"...oil platforms and wind turbines offshore..."
They are in a symbiotic relationship, wind provides "greenwashing" for coal/oil/gas which keeps lights on when wind isn't blowing.
Destroying the environment in order to save it.
Wind and solar farms have caused more 'harm' than 'good' for the environment: ruination of natural landscapes, disruption of wildlife habitats, massacre of millions of birds and other endangered species for almost nothing in terms of CO₂ reduction.
"Our society's blind push for 100% renewable (instead of 0% carbon), is doing far more environmental harm than good."
"Wind and solar regularly require backup. Switching to "renewables" is a HUGE business opportunity for Oil interests."
"You Can't Have Offshore Wind Power Without Oil"

Jun 22, 2018
Our two family cars are fueled by the Sun.
Renewable cultists believe in their own lies like animals that eat their own excrement.
If it were possible to convert their lies into electricity, it could power the whole world uninterruptedly 24/7/365 forever.

Jun 22, 2018
"Renewable cultists believe in their own lies like animals that eat their own excrement."

I understand electrical power, Willie knows about eating animal excrement.

Jun 23, 2018
I understand electrical power,
"Energy Images Are Deceiving"
Hundreds of billions of dollars spent on sunshine&breeze unicorn energy and:
"Oil, natural gas and coal make up 81 percent of U.S. energy usage. Wind and solar contribute only 2.6 percent—and less than 0.5 percent of world energy consumption. So why are we bombarded with so many images of wind turbines and solar panels?"

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more