Collateral Damage: Lost Gulf Rigs from Obama Obstructionism (10 down, more to go?)

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by Kevin Mooney
August 18, 2011

“The Gulf Spill of 2010 maybe be remembered as much or more for the economic damage it did because of the Obama’s regulatory overreaction than for the environmental damage it wrought. Two wrongs do not make a right.”

Ten oil rigs have left the Gulf of Mexico since the Obama Administration imposed a moratorium on deepwater oil and gas drilling in May 2010 and others could follow soon, a detailed July 2011 report from Sen. David Vitter’s (R-La.) office shows.

The ten rigs named in the document are: Marinas, Discover Americas, Ocean Endeavor, Ocean Confidence, Stena Forth, Clyde Bourdeaux, Ensco 8503, Deep Ocean Clarion, Discover Spirit, and Amirante. The rigs have left the Gulf for locations in Egypt, Congo, French Guiana, Liberia, Nigeria and Brazil.

It gets worse.

Several of the remaining rigs could be relocating soon, according to the report. These include the Paul Romano, the Ocean Monarch and the Saratoga. Moreover, eight other rigs that were planned for the Gulf have been detoured away, Don Briggs, President of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA), points out.

“When you have companies that would be spending hundreds of millions of dollars, or some cases, billions of dollars, they need certainty,” Briggs explained. “We don’t have that now and I don’t expect that we will anytime soon. We will be in a deteriorating position until this changes.”

Briggs has also questioned the necessityof the moratorium that was imposed in response to the explosion of British Petroleum’s (BP) Macondo oil well on April 20 of last year. The accident resulted in the death of 11 workers and caused an estimated five million barrels of crude oil to spill into the Gulf.

The federal regulatory schemes that are now aimed against Louisiana will ultimately work to the disadvantage of industry in other parts of the country, Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), has warned.

What you are seeing in Louisiana is only a small piece of larger mosaic being put together by the Obama Administration to make affordable energy as inaccessible as possible,” he said. “From the administration’s war on coal to the serious consideration it is giving to imposing a nationwide regulation of hydraulic fracturing, to its shut down of deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, to its `endangerment finding” from the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], the administration is practicing its own form of selected industrial sabotage.

Sen. Vitter has called outtop Obama administration officials for issuing what he views as conflicting and misleading statements on the correct number offshore drilling permits. A U.S. Justice Department motion filed in March stated there are 270 shallow water permit applications and 52 deepwater permit applications pending.

But in testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this past March, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the Interior Department had received only 47 shallow water permit applications over the previous nine months and that only seven deepwater permit applications were pending. Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement, told Vitter personallythat only six deepwater permits were pending, and he publicly stated that deepwater permits would be limited because “only a handful of completed applications have been received.”

Vitter has also announced that he will block the nomination of Rebecca Wodder to serve as Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife Parks for the Department of Interior unless expiring Gulf drilling leases are extended for another year.

“Since the moratorium, oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico has been dramatically curtailed,” Vitter said. “In 2011 alone, more than 300 offshore drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico are due to expire. If these leases are allowed to expire, they will revert to the federal government, killing jobs and cutting off potential revenue from exploration and production. The U.S. economy will greatly benefit by allowing the offshore energy industry to get to work and stay working.”

Earlier this year, Vitter also blocked the nomination of Dan Ashe to the Interior Department, but lifted it after new deepwater exploratory permits were issued. In addition, Vitter has successfully opposed an almost $20,000 pay raise for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The Gulf Spill of 2010 maybe be remembered as much or more for the economic damage it did because of the Obama’s regulatory overreaction than for the environmental damage it wrought.

Two wrongs do not make a right.

Original Article

Posted on August 23, 2011, in Gulf of Mexico, Natural Gas and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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