The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Drilling Moratorium Lifted in Shallow Water, Report Says

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted June 1, 2010

Oil Daily is reporting today that Interior Sec. Ken Salazar has lifted the moratorium on Gulf of Mexico exploration and production in shallow water.

More than 50 members of the U.S. House Representatives had urged Sec. Salazar to allow the continuation of shallow-water oil and natural gas production, saying it does not pose the same risks as deepwater production.

In shallow water, the tops of the blowout preventers (BOPs) are often above the waterline, and the wells frequently require external stimulation to draw oil and natural gas to the surface. Therefore, it is unlikely that these wells could experience problems similar to the Macondo well.

The International Association of Drilling Contractors and another group also had pressed for permission to proceed with shallow-water energy development.

The fact remains, however, that the largest producing wells are in deepwater. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports 80 percent of the 1.6 million barrels of oil produced every day in the Gulf last year came from wells located in more than 1,000 feet of water. As API's Jack Gerard explained in a statement last week, the 20 most prolific producing blocks in the Gulf are located in deepwater.