Friday, 10 December 2010 00:46

New Orleans Groups Say DeFacto Gulf Oil Drilling Moratorium Continues

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According to two New Orleans business organizations, the defacto Gulf of Mexico oil drilling moratorium continues despite the lifting of the moratorium imposed by the Obama Administration earlier this year.

Greater New Orleans, Inc. released the fourth installment of the Gulf Permit Index (GPI) to the public. When the federal government announced that it would lift the Deep Water Drilling Moratorium on Tuesday, October 12, the Business Council of Greater New Orleans and the River Region, and GNO, Inc. issued the following statement:

"We will be tracking and reporting on shallow- and deep-water permit issuance. Bi-weekly, we will issue a report that will compare the number of permits issued, versus historical rates. If there are delays, we will investigate and report those findings, as well."

Earlier this week, Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE) Michael Bromwich, while answering questions at the International Offshore Oil and Gas Law Conference, stated that no de facto moratorium exists.

"BOEMRE must not be paying attention to its own data," said Gregory Rusovich, Chairman of the Business Council of Greater New Orleans and the River Region. "We’ve seen one new deep-water permit approved in the two months since the so-called end of the federal moratorium. The historical monthly average for approved permits for new deep-water wells is 5.8. The difference between what BOEMRE says and what is reality is, sadly, substantial."

Continuing the commitment to track permit issuance in the Gulf of Mexico, GNO, Inc. updated the index to reflect changes that have occurred in the two weeks since the third installment of the GPI was issued on Wednesday, November 24.

"Shallow-water permit issuance rates over the past three months still significantly lag historical averages, and the deep-water permits are not experiencing an upward trend at all," said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of GNO, Inc. "The overall permitting process is taking entirely too long. What was once a matter of days and weeks is now a matter of months. Until BOEMRE takes serious steps toward progress, our region faces unnecessary economic hurdles."

Only one deep-water permit has been issued in the two months since the end of the federal moratorium. The deficit from the historical average of 5.8 is 5.3 permits per month, representing a 91% decrease in permit issuance.

Shallow-water permit issuance also lags behind the historical average of 7.1 permits per month. Over the past three months, only 4.67 shallow-water permits have been issued each month. The deficit represents a 34% decrease in permit issuance.

Charts tracking approved new permits for deep- and shallow-water permit issuance are below. Raw data on number of permits issued each month is taken from the BOEMRE website. Research and analysis is performed by GNO, Inc. staff members.

GNO, Inc. will continue to monitor the number of drilling permits being issued by BOEMRE. The organization will report on its findings every two weeks with updated GPI reports.

Bayoubuzz Staff

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