Commenting on US Interior Secretary’s meeting with the Shallow Water Energy Coalition on 22 Nov in Houma, Louisiana, National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) President Randall Luthi remarked, “It will be his deeds, not his words, that will enable the offshore industry to return to work.” The meeting highlighted the continuing tensions between the Department of the Interior and the offshore oil and gas industry, even after drilling moratoriums were lifted.
“Today, the Secretary heard first-hand what inaction in Washington, DC does to America’s workers. Ships, rigs and vessels are idle. Workers are getting pink slips. The industry is waiting for action from the Department, not words. They want to get back to work,” said Mr Luthi. “We are encouraged by the Secretary’s efforts to reallocate personnel and obtain new hires to process permits. The resumption of the responsible issuance of permits for shallow water operations in the Gulf would be a good start, but the real signal to industry that deepwater and de facto moratoria are truly over, and that certainty and regulatory clarity are returning will be the issuance of the first permit for new exploratory drilling in the deepwater Gulf. Time is running out, especially for the smaller, independent producers in the Gulf. If permits don’t start flowing their way, they will see more lost rigs and jobs.”
“In addition to a growing backlog of permit applications, the Secretary has multiple irons in the fire, including decisions on seismic studies, categorical exclusions, completion of sales in the 2007-2012 offshore leasing plan, formulation of the 2012-2017 offshore leasing plan, and the necessary environmental analyses required for these plans and lease sales in both the Gulf and Alaska,” continued Mr Luthi. “Now would be a good time for the Secretary to take an iron out of the fire and put his brand on a positive decision that will put industry back to work producing oil and gas needed to fuel American cars, homes, businesses and job growth.”