DOI, BOEM lift deepwater drilling moratorium

By Phaedra Friend Troy

In a joint press conference held Tuesday, Secretary Ken Salazar of the Department of the Interior and Director Michal Bromwich of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM) lifted the deepwater drilling ban that has been in effect in the US Gulf of Mexico.

In the press conference, offshore operators were given the go-ahead to resume deepwater drilling once companies fulfill new drilling rules and produce proof that they have adequate blowout containment equipment.

Nonetheless, the American Petroleum Institute while pleased that the DOI lifted the drilling ban expressed concern that a “de facto moratorium could be created by delays in the processing and approval of permits, which will reduce production, government revenues and American jobs.”

Meanwhile, Marine Well Containment Company, a consortium of top oil producers ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Shell and Chevron, has begun the process of developing an emergency oil containment system for use in the deepwaters of the Gulf of Mexico. Earlier this month, the company awarded Technip the FEED contract on the underwater well-containment system.

“We are on schedule to develop this specialized containment equipment that will significantly increase the industry’s response capabilities in the Gulf of Mexico,” stated Lloyd Guillory, marine well containment system project executive. "In addition to the construction of new equipment, we are continuing efforts to secure existing system components to be available for near-term use."

A deepwater drilling moratorium has been in place since May, in response to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy and subsequent oil spill.

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