IADC staff and contractor members, acting as a Coalition, met with Gulf Coast senators and congressmen this week in Washington, DC, to make a case for lifting the ban on new drilling in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The US government issued a ban on all new drilling in the Gulf following the 20 April Macondo incident offshore Louisiana. Shallow-water drilling was unintentionally and unfairly swept up in an overly broad ban.
IADC urged that drilling operations in water depths of 1,000 ft or less that use surface-stack equipment should be allowed to continue.
The meetings in DC produced several commitments from senators and congressmen to write or call Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar to explain why drilling in the shallow-water Gulf should continue.
IADC helped set the stage with a 13 May letter to Secretary Salazar that set forth the case for immediately resuming new drilling in shallow waters.
The message was reinforced in a press conference by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. After meeting with IADC and the Coalition, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., called Secretary Salazar and discussed organizing a meeting with the shallow-water group. It is possible that a meeting with Secretary Salazar and interested members of Congress will occur as soon as this week.
Additionally, all eight Gulf Coast senators agreed to sign a letter to Secretary Salazar supporting the industry’s requests on the issue. Further, Congressman Gene Green, D-Texas, and Congressman Charles Boustany, R-La., sent a letter to the Secretary with the signatures of 56 energy Democrats and Republicans. Congressman Ted Poe, R-Texas, also wrote separately to the Secretary.
Numerous other Gulf Coast congressmen were supportive of resuming issuing new drilling permits in the shallow-water Gulf.
IADC was represented in DC this week by president Dr Lee Hunt, executive VP – government affairs Brian Petty and group VP/publisher Mike Killalea. Contractor members who participated as the Shallow-Water Coalition for Energy Security were John Rynd and Jim Noe, Hercules; Randy Stilley and Kurt Hoffman, Seahawk; David Russell, Rowan; John Knowlton, Ensco; and Todd Hornbeck, Hornbeck Offshore.
Joint Industry Task Force
On the deepwater side, IADC and API have been fully engaged in the work of the Joint Industry Task Force (JITF), organized to make recommendations to the Department of Interior (DOI) on improvements to equipment and policies/procedures for deepwater drilling. More than 40 companies are participating in the effort, being conducted by two work groups – Equipment, headed by Moe Plaisance of Diamond Offshore Drilling, and Policies and Procedures, headed by David Payne, Chevron. The JITF is chaired by Gary Luquette, president of Chevron North America E&P and chairman of API’s Upstream Committee.
In just a 10-day period, the JITF prepared a draft of recommendations, which was submitted to DOI on 17 May. The document is under review by DOI, which has a 28 May deadline to prepare a report for President Obama.