Rig workers, like Robert Cornett, right, pause while mopping the decks on the Hercules 251. (Photo: Smiley N. Pool, Houston Chronicle)
The offshore drilling industry is still rebounding from a five-month moratorium and new regulations after the 2010 Gulf oil spill, with consumers paying the price at the pump, according to a new report being released today.
The findings buck the conventional wisdom about a recent resurgence in offshore drilling that has caused a spike in demand for workers and a run on rigs to drill new wells.
Drilling contractors, including Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc., Noble Corp., and Rowan Cos., say they are seeing strong demand for their rigs. Energy analysts predict 10 more will float into the Gulf this year. And the number of active offshore rigs in the United States was higher at the end of April 2012 than the average total in 2009, the year before the spill (the economic decline had driven down demand that year).
But according to the new analysis, conducted by the Southern Methodist University Cox Maguire Energy Institute, high rig counts, the numbers of federal permits to drill new wells and other positive stats mask problems that could mean suppressed oil and gas production for years to come.
The study was commissioned by the Gulf Economic Survival Team, which has been lobbying for swifter permitting of offshore projects.
Read more: Fuel Fix » SMU Report: Permitting delays & new regs stifling offshore drilling.