The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Moratorium Not a Solution

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted July 14, 2010

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made good on his promise Monday and issued a new drilling moratorium. As he stated in a news release:

"I am basing my decision on evidence that grows every day of the industry's inability in the deepwater to contain a catastrophic blowout, respond to an oil spill, and to operate safely."

Of course, the moratorium will do nothing to improve the engineering and geological knowledge required to solve the immediate problem. It won't help the industry contain blowouts. It won't improve spill-response technology. And it won't encourage safer operations. But it will put tens of thousands of Americans out of work, reduce domestic oil and natural gas production and make the United States increasingly reliant on other countries for energy.

API President and CEO Jack Gerard responded to the new moratorium, stating that it was "unnecessary and shortsighted...We strongly encourage the department to reconsider its decision and establish a process and timeline for putting our deepwater companies and highly skilled employees in the Gulf region back to work." And he wasn't the only one who disagreed with Sec. Salazar's moratorium.

Rep. Charlie Melacon (D-La.) said:

"At a time when we are already suffering from the BP oil disaster in the gulf, this continued suspension will cost our state more jobs and revenue...Louisianans have had enough and want to get back to producing energy for our nation."

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said:

"This was a rogue incident...This industry has a record. It's been a safe, reliable industry, with 42,000 wells drilled...." She also predicted that the moratorium will "force thousands of Louisianans into the unemployment line." (Times-Picayune/The Wall Street Journal)

Larry Dickerson, chief executive of Diamond Offshore Drilling, noted that his employees are asking about the difference between the auto industry and the oil industry. "They ask how come they get bailed out and we get driven out?" (The Washington Post)

Since last Friday, Diamond Offshore has moved two of its rigs from the Gulf to Egypt and the Congo rather than wait for the drilling ban to end.