“The battle’s done and we kinda won, so we’ll sound our victory cheer. Where do we go from here” – Joss Whedon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Oct 13, 2010 – The Deepwater oil ban was lifted by the President, but what does it mean? On the surface, it would seem that deepwater drilling off the Gulf would get back to normal. As always, reality is far different. A number of different environmental organizations, such as the Sierra Club, think it’s too soon to lift the ban. Some drilling companies fear that even though the ban has been lifted, the new regulations and red tape will prevent them from being able to drill. So what does the lifting of the ban and the new regulations really mean?
On April 30th, the President issued a moratorium on offshore drilling based open depth, meaning that companies could not drill new wells at depths greater than 500 feet. This did not stop the wells that were already producing. It also did not stop new wells or modification of existing wells that had obtained their permits before the moratorium went into effect. What happened next is what almost happens with every new law, it was challenged in court. Judge Feldman ruled that the moratorium was overly broad and would harm the Gulf Economy.
A 2nd offshore drilling moratorium was put into place. This time it applied to any deep water facilities with drilling capabilities. And again, as soon as the law was in place it was challenged in court. The 2nd moratorium was to be in effect till November 30, but it was listed October 12, nearly 7 weeks early.
Does that mean that offshore drilling has taken off? No. No it does not. Now there are new regulations that must be met. Some of the new regulations include making the CEO responsible for making sure the well has met all the safety requirements and having equipment on site to help contain a blowout, if one should occur. Companies are waiting for a final list of the new regulations. Some environmental organizations are unhappy with how quickly the moratorium has been lifted, but some congressmen are unhappy about the moratorium effect’s on the jobs in the Gulf. Many of the offshore drilling platforms have left the Gulf for more profitable waters.