The Department of Interior Issues Its Fifth Permit – But It’s Still Not Enough

By March 25, 2011Energy

The Obama Administration, today, issued its fifth deepwater permit since lifting the Gulf drilling moratorium, approving Chevron’s request to drill a “wildcat” well in 6,750 feet of water more than 200 miles off the coast of Louisiana.  This is the most important permit so far, in that it is actually for a new exploratory drilling as opposed to a permit that was previously issued.  It is also the second permit to be approved which is using the containment system designed by Marine Well Containment Company as its solution in the case of a loss of well control.  This is a good step forward and, we hope, marks the Administration’s intention to move more expeditiously on the other pending permits.  In addition, with the unrest in the Middle East, and the increasing oil prices, there is now talk of a possible double-dip recession.  Therefore, it is essential for the Interior to move on these permits as quickly as possible to ensure that as many companies are able to return to the Gulf of Mexico to safely drill and explore for domestic sources of oil and gas. 

Offshore drilling is a significant part of the U.S. economy.  The federal government estimates that the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf contains proven reserves of 20.3 billion barrels of oil and 183.7 trillion cubic feet of gas.  Moreover, the waters off Alaska’s coast contain about 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  These reserves can provide a dependable and secure source of energy which will keep energy costs low. 

With its action on Chevron’s application, Interior has shown itself capable of approving permits for new deepwater drilling.  Let’s see the agency follow through by moving on all these pending permits, ensuring that many companies are able to return to the Gulf of Mexico to safely drill and explore for domestic sources of oil and gas.

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