Drilling ban lifted, safety standards slow oil operations - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Drilling ban lifted, safety standards slow oil operations

Posted by Elizabeth Stewart - email

LOUISIANA (WFLX) - While the oil spill clean-up in the Gulf of Mexico drags on, the government has shut down deepwater drilling. A federal appeals court lifted that drilling ban.

The three judge panel ruled that the government failed to show any likelihood that there would even be any brand new exploratory deepwater drilling pending August 30. That's when the government's full appeal on its moratorium begins with oral arguments.

Meanwhile in the Gulf of Mexico, it's the government's new safety standards that have seriously slowed some oil operations.

Off the coast of Louisiana sits the Spartan 151, an offshore rig used to dig new wells and finish work on others. On board, the disaster drill comes first. But aside from that ringing bell for our ears, this rig has been pretty quiet the past month.

The government's moratorium applies specifically to deepwater exploration that idled 33 operations. However, the government's new safety requirements apply to all shallow water operations. And while those have been digested over the past month, 18 workers were laid off here, and this rig has had no job to do.

"New well permits, work over permits, pipeline permits, it was all stopped." But, the interior department says new permits are being granted and oil production facilities have continued to pump.

"There's some light at the end of the tunnel. We think we may have all the rigs up and running in the next 5 to 10 days."

Both Spartan Offshore and Marlon Energy tell us they've lost millions of dollars since these new rules went into effect, but the Department of the Interior tells us oil production does continue in the Gulf of Mexico.

While the moratorium did idle 33 deepwater exploratory rigs, there are still 46 other rigs that are producing and pumping oil.

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