Gulf Coast Oil Drilling Ban Lifted

Published by: Mike Goldman on 12th Oct 2010 | View all blogs by Mike Goldman


Gulf Coast Oil Drilling Ban Lifted

The moratorium on deep-sea exploratory oil drilling issued by the Obama administration following the BP Gulf oil spill is being lifted, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced on Tuesday. A new set of rules and regulations have been implemented which operators must comply with before receiving permission to resume drilling.

"There will always be risks associated with deep-water drilling," Salazar said. "We have reached a point where we have significantly reduced those risks." The six-month long moratorium was originally issued by Salazar in May after BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded on April 20th. The explosion killed eleven people and began what would become one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of the US.

The ban was overturned in June by a federal judge, and Salazar issued a second ban that was scheduled to expire in November. The moratorium's critics, mainly Republican leaders, officials from Gulf states, and residents of the region, argued that a drilling ban would just hurt oil and gas workers in the already hard hit coastal communities, where the oil spill cost hundreds of people their jobs.

Salazar and other drilling ban proponents argued that it provided time to ensure that similar accidents involving the failure of a piece of equipment called a blowout preventer would not occur in the future, and that rig operators would be prepared to deal with worst case scenarios if they did occur.

The new guidelines require operators to demonstrate that their proposed plans for development and exploration are capable of dealing with blowouts and also require rigs to undergo detailed inspections and reviews of design reviews of blowout preventers by independent third parties.

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