May 28, 2010
Obama announces new offshore drilling restrictions
In a White House press conference on the Deepwater Horizon spill, President Obama yesterday announced new restrictions on offshore drilling. That is scarcely surprising given public outrage over pollution from the spill and growing evidence of the ineffectiveness of MMS, the agency supposedly regulating offshore drilling.
Here's a summary of what the restrictions amount to:
Work on mobile rigs doing exploratory drilling in deep water is halted. This affects some 30 rigs
Ban on all new applications for permits to drill in deep water continues for at least six months
Planned exploratory well in the Arctic region is on hold for at least a year
August 2010 lease sale in the western Gulf canceled
An expected 2012 lease sale for a tract about 50 miles off the Virginia coast is called off
Shallow water drilling permits can be approved again for operations within 500 feet of water.
The decision on shallow water permits is one piece of good news in what is otherwise a dismal series of setbacks for the offshore industry.
API issued this statement: While understanding and correcting the causes of the Gulf of Mexico accident are essential, the American Petroleum Institute opposes lengthy open-ended delay of offshore oil and natural gas development, as proposed today by the administration. Offshore development is crucial to creating and saving jobs and strengthening U.S. energy security. API's President and CEO Jack Gerard offered this response to the president's announcement:
"We understand the concerns many people have about offshore drilling in the wake of this incident, and the frustration many feel toward oil companies. But this issue is much larger than the oil industry, since access to affordable energy impacts every sector of our economy, every state in our nation and every American family. Further, thousands of products - from toothpaste to iPods, cell phones to computers, and vitamins to vegetables - use oil and natural gas as a feedstock in the manufacturing process.
"An extended moratorium on safely producing our oil and natural gas resources from the Gulf of Mexico would create a moratorium on economic growth and job creation--especially in the Gulf States whose people and economies have already been most affected by the oil spill--by undercutting our nation's access to affordable, reliable, domestic sources of oil and natural gas.
"Deepwater development is a key component of domestic energy security. In 2007, deepwater provided 70 percent of the oil and 36 percent of the natural gas from overall federal Gulf of Mexico production. The 20 most prolific producing blocks in the Gulf are located in deepwater.
"Additional moves to curtail domestic production by postponing exploration and development off the coasts of Alaska and Virginia, as well as areas in the Gulf, have the potential to significantly erode our energy and economic security.
"Decisions that impact the industry's ability to produce the oil and natural gas this country needs in every sector of our economy and in every household in this country will affect the lives of every citizen, every day. We will encourage the administration and Congress to reconsider any decisions that would place previously available lease areas off limits, and to ensure that there is a process and a timeline for revisiting decisions that impact our energy and economic future."