First drilling rig leaves gulf, new drilling moratorium issued
The government has issued a new drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo Credit: An Ceann Corr /Flickr/CC BY-SA)

Monday, a new drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico was issued by the Obama administration. A federal court judge, citing oil drilling jobs, overturned the first deep water drilling moratorium last month. Ken Salazar vowed to come back with a new one courts would accept. The first deep water drilling moratorium singled out drilling for oil at depths of more than 500 feet. The new drilling moratorium disregards depth and focuses on drilling circumstances and different technologies. Meanwhile, the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has dumped an estimated 140 million gallons of crude into the sea.

New drilling moratorium applies to all depths

Last week, a federal appeals court rejected an appeal that was given by the interior department to restore its original offshore deep-water drilling moratorium, which halted the approval of any new permits for deep-water projects and suspended drilling on 33 exploratory wells. As outlined by the Washington Post, Salazar made the announcement Monday, arguing that a drilling moratorium is still required to ensure that oil and gas companies implement safety methods to cut back risks and are prepared to handle oil spills. Unlike the first moratorium, which limits drilling rigs only in waters 500 feet deep or more, the new one applies to any deep-water floating facility with drilling activities.

At risk appears to be oil drilling jobs

The new moratorium will last through Nov. 30. Other permits could be granted before that if drillers can prove safety measures have been taken. Meanwhile, a New Orleans business group said the economic damage from a drilling moratorium would be worse than the toll taken by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico 2010. According to Business Week, Michael Hecht of Greater New Orleans Inc. told the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill and Offshore Drilling at a hearing that the six-month drilling ban can affect as much as 24,000 oil drilling jobs in Louisiana. Hecht said that the economic impact from the BP oil spill would be dwarfed by the impact from the moratorium.

Oil drilling companies not to be trusted

Salazar disagrees with Hecht’s assessment of the outcome. In a statement, Salazar said, “A pause on deepwater drilling is essential and appropriate to protect communities, coasts and wildlife from the risks that deep water drilling currently pose. I am basing my decision on evidence that grows every day of the industry’s inability in the deep water to contain a catastrophic blowout, respond to an oil spill and to operate safely.”

First drilling rig set to leave the gulf

At the national commission hearing, the CEO of a service provider for offshore drillers said drilling rigs are going to have to leave the Gulf because of the drilling moratorium. One has left so far. The Houston Chronicle reports that on July 9, Diamond Offshore announced that its Ocean Endeavor drilling rig will leave the Gulf of Mexico and move to Egyptian waters quickly, making it the first to abandon the gulf in the wake of the BP oil spill and the drilling moratorium being tested within the courts.

More details about this topic at these websites:

Washington Post

Houston Chronicle

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