“We do not want to see the same de facto moratorium on deepwater drilling operations. We will need to see how new regulations on deepwater drilling are implemented to see if permits are issued in a timely manner. Moreover, our oil and gas industry – like any business – needs predictability from government in order to succeed and create more jobs for our people.”
Thirty-three percent of the nation’s domestic oil comes from the Gulf of Mexico. Eighty percent of the Gulf’s oil and 45 percent of its natural gas comes from operations in more than 1,000 feet of water, considered “deepwater.” Port Fourchon in Lafourche Parish services 90 percent of deepwater operations in the Gulf of Mexico. At any given time, 5,000 employees are hard at work servicing the oil and gas industry at the port and 15,000 offshore workers fly in and out of the port each month. Each drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico employs 180-280 workers.. Each drilling rig job supports four other jobs in the community.
A group called the Gulf Economic Survival Team, created by Lieutenant Governor Scott Angelle, collected a total of more than 175,000 signatures calling on Washington to put an end to the deepwater drilling moratorium that threatened thousands of Louisiana jobs and a federal judge ruled to be “arbitrary and capricious.”
Plaquemines Parish Billy Nungesser
“We’re very pleased about the announcement from President Obama’s administration that the deepwater drilling moratorium has been lifted. We hope that the new regulations and new policies which will be implemented will make drilling safer for both the people working offshore and the environment in the future. At the same time we hope the regulations will not delay the permitting process for deepwater or other drilling which ends up smothering the industry. We’ve seen a slowdown in all services related to the oil field since this moratorium was put in place. The timing is right. As the oil spill cleanup slows down, all the businesses that support the industry need to return to work. Lifting the moratorium could be the catalyst we need to get all the oil industry businesses kick started, putting people back to work and seeing this industry come back alive.”
Plaquemines Parish President
Congressman Steve Scalise
Congressman Steve Scalise today issued the following statement after the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the offshore drilling moratorium has been lifted.
“Today’s announcement does nothing to address the uncertainty that has caused thousands of people to lose their jobs in the energy industry,” Scalise said. “Until they lay out a clear path toward the issuing of new drilling permits, the Obama administration continues to send the message that they’ve established a ‘permitorium’ that denies people the ability to go back to work even if they’re complying with increased safety standards.
“The administration needs to stop playing games with the people who work in America’s energy industry, and finally lay out a clear path that allows permits to be issued using safer standards that quickly get people back to work. One of the biggest factors leading to job losses in the energy industry is the uncertainty that exists in the permitting process, and today’s announcement does nothing to address those concerns.”
Congressman Joseph Cao:
Today Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao (LA-2) commended U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for ending the ban on deepwater oil and gas drilling, which was imposed after the BP oil spill in April.
Cao said, “I am thrilled to hear that the moratorium will be lifted more than a month ahead of schedule. We in the Gulf Coast cannot continue to struggle with increased unemployment while our economy is already suffering. Ending the ban on offshore drilling is a major step toward economic recovery.”
According to the Department of Interior’s press release, Secretary Salazar reached his decision due to the “significant progress over the last few months in enhancing the safety of future drilling operations.”
Cao said, “The slow, ambiguous permitting process caused a de facto shallow water moratorium. I hope that the Secretary will not allow over-regulation to serve as a shadow moratorium.”
According to the Shallow Water Coalition, the moratorium has caused at least one deepwater and dozens of shallow water drilling rigs to shut down. They also said that had the moratorium continued, hundreds of jobs in Southeast Louisiana would have been lost.
Cao said, “Obviously, we must continue to improve the safety of deepwater drilling. However, with the past few months’ newly-implemented safety measures, the risks have been greatly reduced. It’s time to let Southeast Louisianans to get back to work.”
Cao and his colleagues in the Louisiana Congressional Delegation have sent numerous letters and drafted legislation to oppose the Administration’s moratorium on offshore drilling. Throughout the summer, Cao had participated in forums, hearings, and town halls addressing the urgent need to lift the moratorium.
Cedric Richmond (Democrat and candidate for 2nd Congressional District for Louisiana. Congressman Cao is currently representing the 2nd Congressional district and Richmond is his Democratic Party opponent)
“I applaud the Obama Administration’s decision to lift the moratorium on deep water drilling. This is a win for the tens of thousands of Louisiana citizens who depend on the oil and gas industry for their livelihoods. The people of this state are honest and hard working. Protecting jobs in the oil and gas industry and at facilities such as the Avondale Shipyard is paramount to moving our State forward.”
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) announced this afternoon that, although the six-month deepwater drilling moratorium has been lifted six weeks early, the offshore drilling industry and the onshore industries it supports are still in peril.
“While the deepwater moratorium has now been lifted, significant new and yet-to-be-developed regulations will replace the total ban on drilling,” said Dan Juneau, LABI President. “With what shallow-water drillers have been experiencing since the new regulations were implemented in June, we have deep concern that the same negative effects will befall the deepwater rigs, similar to what we are seeing in the shallow waters,” he said.
Since June, only a handful of permits for new wells have been issued in the shallow-water operations, far below the number the Department of Interior has historically issued per month. The inability for the drillers to obtain permits in waters with depths less than 500 feet has resulted in a de facto moratorium on all Gulf of Mexico drilling and the stacking of many shallow-water rigs. “When a rig becomes inactive, workers become unemployed,” Juneau noted.
The industry, as well as the regulators themselves, is having difficulty understanding and complying with the new regulations. “If this permitting bottleneck continues, the deepwater drillers will likely see delays similar to those the shallow-water drillers have been experiencing the past four months. That will lead to further job losses and a reduction of economic activity at the worst possible time for Louisiana’s economy,” Juneau said.
About LABI: Founded in 1975, LABI is an association of over 3,500 member companies representing approximately 6,000 business women and men in the state. Approximately 80 percent of its members own or operate small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. All of LABI’s members share a common goal: to bring strategic focus to business issues before legislative, judicial and regulatory bodies in the state. LABI serves as the state chamber of commerce and manufacturing association, and is the administrative arm of the Louisiana Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (LACCE).