The Obama administration has given one excuse after another for its halt on issuing oil drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico. The cost of gas is skyrocketing, oil rigs are pulling out, and thousands of Americans are out of work. Thomas Clements owns a small business that provides parts for oil rigs. If the rigs aren’t operating, Clements has no business. The BP settlement does not include Mr. Clements. He has had no relief while his machine shop sits idle.
The administration told the oil industry that they would start issuing permits again if the oil companies agreed to certain terms.
Facing criticism about its failure to issue permits for new deepwater oil and gas wells, the Interior Department’s regulatory agency fired back Friday, saying it can’t grant approval to drill until the industry has a new spill containment plan in place.
“The most critical missing piece in the process of approving applications for permits to drill in deepwater is the demonstration of well control and subsea containment capability. Therefore, I ask that you provide a detailed update as to when your proposed containment systems will be operational,” Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, wrote in identical letters sent Friday to Helix Energy Solutions Group, a key provider of well control equipment, and to the four industry giants that formed the Marine Well Containment Co. after last April’s massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
A group of oil companies led by Exxon said Thursday it has built a system that can stop an undersea oil spill within weeks, a critical step towards resuming drilling in the deepest parts of the Gulf of Mexico.
The Marine Well Containment Co. announced Thursday that it has cobbled together enough equipment and support vessels to contain a spill similar to BP’s massive gusher, which took 85 days to plug. Some of the equipment was used by BP in its containment efforts.
Regulators have demanded that oil companies demonstrate the capability to contain the blowout of an underwater well before granting permits to drill in Gulf waters deeper than 500 feet.
Exxon said this system, which is available immediately, meets that demand and should have no trouble gaining government approval. Its engineers have consulted with regulators the during the system’s development.
Thomas Clements is calling on the administration to immediately start issuing permits so he and others who have been devastated by the permitorium can get back to work. He issued the following statement:
“The oil and gas industry has worked with the federal government to ensure that companies like BP can’t inflict damage like we saw last spring; now it’s the government’s turn to work with the oil and gas industry to end this moratorium that continues to halt energy production and kill jobs across the region.
Small businesses hurt by the moratorium can’t get any relief from BP. Even Saints head coach Sean Payton has received a check because he has a cabin near the beach, but companies, like mine, that are just trying to survive get nothing.
The new containment system represents a show of good-faith by key oil and gas industry players in response to one company’s bad behavior. In the Gulf, we would appreciate a return of that good faith so we can go back to work, earn a living, and provide for our families, because BP isn’t helping. Ten months of being told our jobs don’t matter is quite enough!
Enough is enough. We need to develop the resources we have here at home. Just think of all the revenue the Treasury is losing out on at a time when our national debt and deficit are spiraling out of control. Just think of how many people will go back to work once the rigs start operating. Sadly, I have no confidence that this administration will do the right thing.
For more on Thomas Clements and Obama’s moratorium on drilling click here.
Update: The Bureau of Ocean Management responded.
A spokeswoman for Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement said the agency appreciates the MWCC’s “significant progress to address this issue, and we continue to encourage them to make their containment system available as quickly as possible to deepwater operators so that new, responsible oil and gas drilling in deepwater can proceed.”
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement engineers are reviewing the infrastructure and if all goes well, oil-and-gas companies will be able to cite it as a viable system in their permit applications.
The agency plans to evaluate the interim system’s depth and barrel-per-day limits as it considers deepwater permit applications.
Sounds like more stalling to me. And let’s remember, the oil spill was due to the actions of BP and a failure of oversight, not the entire oil industry. Punishing all for the deeds of one is just wrong.
Update 2: PJ Tatler linked – thanks!