U.S. lifts moratorium on deep-water drilling in Gulf of Mexico
Oil industry representatives, however, express concern that the new higher standards could delay the issuance of permits. Others oppose ending the suspension in the midst of ongoing investigations of BP over the spill.
Reports from Washington – Obama administration on Tuesday lifted the moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, which could dull a serious political problem in the weeks before the midterm congressional elections and notes confidence in the regulation of new tight.
“There has been significant progress in recent months on improving the safety of future drilling operations, and to address some of the deficiencies in spill containment and oil spill response, Michael Bromwich, director of Office of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, said in announcing the end of the moratorium. “Every time there is to do,” he said, “but we believe that the risks of drilling in deep water have been reduced enough to allow operation under existing regulations and new.”
But the end of the moratorium is satisfied few players in the offshore oil drilling issues. Some environmentalists criticized end the suspension of drilling, while continuing investigations and cleanup at the April 20 explosion of the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, which killed 11 people and sparked the largest oil spill in high sea in U.S. history.
representatives of the oil industry and its allies in Congress raised fears that the new stricter regulations of the Department of Interior has set up could delay the issuance of permits and lead to a de facto moratorium.
“They miss the point: The issue is not a slowdown, but a start,” said Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington research group that has advocated lifting the moratorium. “Interior, with a lot of contributions from the oil industry, has implemented new regulations. Demanding that the new architecture is a first step for government and industry, and it will take some time.”
Home Secretary Ken Salazar, suspended in deep water drilling in May, after a federal court rejected the ban, a moratorium reissued in July. The suspension affects about 36 platforms in the Gulf of Mexico that were exploring new oil and gas reserves in deep waters of 500 meters. Oil and gas in the Gulf, which represents one third of domestic oil production, continued largely unabated.
At that time, the industry and the Gulf Coast politicians warned that the moratorium could lead to an exodus of jobs to other oil-producing regions. Employment and loss of drilling was much less than expected.
The end of the moratorium will not placate Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), who said Tuesday he would not lift his hold on the nomination of Jack Lew as the new head of the White House Office of Management and Budget, located in protest at the suspension of drilling.
Lew is “not connected to any facet of the moratorium and the confirmation should not be linked to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. The winery, Gibbs said, is “unwarranted and outrageous.”
The oil industry and its allies as Landrieu said he wanted the rapid adoption of new deep-water permits for businesses to not let other parts of the world. In the six months since BP and bursting, 12 permits for drilling in shallow waters have been issued before the accident, the Interior Department issued about 12 a month.
Critics of the Interior Department have said that was delivered too easily permits before the disaster Deepwater Horizon. representatives of the oil industry, such as Erik Milito American Petroleum Institute, a trade group, declined to speculate on whether industry members would like to return to pre-disaster rate for the permit process, saying instead that he had done enough for the Interior Department to proceed faster now.
“I think we had much of a slowdown,” said Milito, a former director of the institution. “It makes sense to take a brief pause to discuss the legislation, which was made with the new requirements put in place.”
In a telephone news conference, acknowledged that the process Bromwich permission to go slowly, but declined to estimate how long it would take. His agency has spent more than 20 employees from other departments to review permit applications, but needed more inspectors for drilling rigs, Bromwich said. A request for $ 100 million to fund more control has stalled in Congress.
Some industry experts said the slowdown was both expected and necessary after a disaster on the scale of the horizon in deep water and the resulting reorganization of rules, including the dismantling of the scandal-ridden Minerals Management Service.
Robert Bea, a professor at the Center of the University of Berkeley for Catastrophic Risk Management, worked in the oil industry and participated in the investigation of the explosion of 1988 Piper Alpha oil platform in the UK North Sea, which killed 167 workers. The British did not impose a moratorium, but looked at the sites of “high risk” before issuing a transform set of regulations in the 1990’s the U.S. being studied.
“In fact there must be a slowdown,” said Beatrice, who serves in the study group Deepwater Horizon, Berkeley. “Going back and forth between regulators and operators, asking and answering questions, it takes longer to stop …. The benefit? It’s not that black beaches and a dead environment.”
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