Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today announced that he is directing the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement to issue a new outer continental shelf drilling moratorium, to supersede the six-month moratorium blocked by the Louisiana district court and by the 5th Circuit court of appeals.
Whereas the previous moratorium, blocked by the courts, applied to all drilling in water depths greater than 500 feet, the new moratorium applies to all drilling from floating facilities, requiring the use of blowout preventers. That would, for example, exempt from the drilling ban shallow-water drilling from a jack-up rig and field development-related drilling that does not require a blowout preventer.
The new moratorium will last until Nov. 30, unless the Interior secretary sees fit to lift it earlier.
But, in announcing the new moratorium, Salazar said that, as more information becomes available, he may modify the criteria for what drilling will be banned.
“I remain open to modifying the new deepwater drilling suspensions based on new information, but industry must raise the bar on its practices and answer fundamental questions about deepwater safety, blowout prevention and containment, and oil spill response,” Salazar said.
See story in July 18 issue, available online to subscribers at noon, Friday, July 16, at www.PetroleumNews.com