The largest land area in the world without any oil drilling is the continent of Antarctica, where natural resource exploitation has been prohibited since 1991 by the Madrid Protocols for a period of 50 years. At this time the cost of drilling for oil in Antarctica (which is covered in most places by a miles-thick sheet of ice) is too high to make it worthwhile, but debate continues on whether drilling should be allowed there once technology or economics progress far enough to make it viable. As far as ocean drilling is concerned, the Outer Continental Shelf in U.S. waters is generally off-limits to drilling except in the Gulf of Mexico, but more areas of the OCS could potentially be opened to drilling by action of the U.S. federal government. This subject became politically controversial during the 2008 Presidential election and will likely continue to be so.
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