Another Moratorium on Deepwater Drilling

By July 12, 2010Energy, Regulations

From the Department of Interior, “Secretary Salazar Issues New Suspensions to Guide Safe Pause on Deepwater Drilling“:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today directed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM) to issue new suspensions of deepwater drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), saying a pause is needed to ensure that oil and gas companies first implement adequate safety measures to reduce the risks associated with deepwater drilling operations and are prepared for blowouts and oil spills.

Shallow water drilling activities that use different technologies do not present the same type or level of risks as deepwater drilling operations and can continue to move forward if operators are in compliance with all safety and environmental requirements, including new safety and environmental requirements implemented through recent Notices to Lessees. Production activities in federal waters of the Gulf are not affected by the deepwater drilling suspensions.

“More than eighty days into the BP oil spill, a pause on deepwater drilling is essential and appropriate to protect communities, coasts, and wildlife from the risks that deepwater drilling currently pose,” said Secretary Salazar. “I am basing my decision on evidence that grows every day of the industry’s inability in the deepwater to contain a catastrophic blowout, respond to an oil spill, and to operate safely.”

American Petroleum Institute’s President and CEO Jack Gerard issued a statement criticizing the latest moratorium. Excerpt:

It is unnecessary and shortsighted to shut down a major part of the nation’s energy lifeline while working to enhance offshore safety. The new moratorium threatens enormous harm to the nation and to the Gulf region. It places the jobs of tens of thousands of workers in serious and immediate jeopardy and promises a substantial reduction in domestic energy production. No certain and expeditious path forward has been established for a resumption of drilling.

The 33 now idle deepwater drilling rigs in the Gulf have passed thorough government inspections and are ready to be put back to work. The industry has been working extremely hard on all fronts to enhance safety – and will continue to do so. And the government has already imposed significant, additional safety requirements that are supported by the industry. A resumption of drilling would proceed only under the most intense and vigilant oversight.

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