Rep. Gene Green Responds to President’s Announcement Regarding Shallow- and Deep-Water Drilling
May 27, 2010
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Gene Green (TX-29) released the statement below following an announcement by President Obama announcing a 6 month extension of a deep-water drilling permit moratorium. The moratorium is applicable to all floating rigs at any water depth. These rigs will be asked to drill to a safe point and cap the well. Shallow-water drilling however is done mostly accomplished with jack-up or platform rigs, essentially ending the moratorium on new shallow-water drilling permits.
“I am very happy that the President has recognized the necessity of allowing shallow-water drilling to continue. There are many differences in the risks and procedures between shallow-water and deep-water drilling and it is important to our energy security and independence that we remain viable in our domestic production. In the meantime, our efforts should remain to be focused on capping the Deepwater Horizon well and conducting a thorough investigation of what went wrong. Short-term and long-term solutions are needed to stop the oil flow, cleanup the affected area, and prevent another disaster.”
Below is a letter sent May 21, 2010 to Secretary Salazar by a group of 56 Members of Congress led by Rep. Gene Green and Rep. Charles Boustany:
The Honorable Kenneth L. Salazar
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W. – Room 6156
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Secretary Salazar:
We write today concerning the moratorium announced by the U.S. Department of Interior on May 6, 2010, which halted the issuance of any new offshore drilling permits by the Minerals Management Service (MMS) in the offshore regions of the United States. We certainly understand and support the need for an in-depth federal investigation into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and we look forward to working with you on legislation that appropriately guards against a similar incident ever happening again while ensuring that our domestic producers of all sizes will continue to be able to produce offshore. However, because the date for lifting the drilling permit moratorium remains uncertain, we are concerned that this uncertainty might jeopardize the ongoing long-term viability of the shallow water development of vital oil and natural gas resources.
Specifically, we are concerned that there are approximately 57 shallow water rigs currently operating in the Gulf of Mexico, and that as many as 50 of those rigs within the next six weeks will be unable to work if the moratorium is not lifted for shallow water drilling operations. Additionally, at least 5,000 direct jobs from the shallow water rigs alone would be lost in the Gulf Coast region.
Shallow water activities throughout the Gulf of Mexico have operated without major incident for decades. Deepwater operations such as those associated with the unfortunate Deepwater Horizon incident involve very different risks and challenges than those for shallow water jackup rigs and other platforms. At the outset, jackup and platform rigs in shallow water (less than 1000 feet in depth) employ “blow-out preventers” (BOPs) that are positioned above the surface of the water. These surface BOPs are accessible for regular inspection, maintenance and repair, and can be controlled directly or remotely in emergency situations. Shallow water drilling sites also involve predictable and mature reservoirs that predominantly consist of clean natural gas resources. Furthermore, a large percentage of shallow water wells require positive external stimulation to produce the flow of oil or gas, thus significantly limiting the risk of loss of control.
Therefore, we respectfully request that next week when you issue your recommendations to the President that you also recommend and allow for the immediate and proper processing and issuance of new shallow water drilling permits for the Gulf of Mexico region. Domestic energy resources are vital to the national security and economic growth of our country and our country requires the safe, effective and steady development of its offshore oil and gas resources.
We appreciate your immediate attention to this critically important matter, and please do not hesitate to contact us if we can ever be of any assistance to you.