May 13, 2010 7:58 PM

Offshore drilling's high tech image at odds with wildcat ways

The oil and gas industry spent years and tens of millions of dollars polishing the image of deep shelf exploration, making it sound as safe as boarding a flight to Orlando. But the no-worries message industry regulators, executives and ad campaigns — persuasively pitched to Congress, the Obama administration and the public — contrast sharply with the work-a-day reality of deep shelf drilling. Unlike commercial aviation or nuclear power, the offshore energy industry retains -- even takes great pride in -- the high-risk, high-reward ethic of its "wildcat'' heritage.

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