June 22, 2010
Salazar threatens new drilling moratorium
Within hours of U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman's issuing of a preliminary injunction immediately prohibiting the administration from enforcing its moratorium on offshore drilling, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar threatened to issue an order imposing a new moratorium in place of the existing one.
"We see clear evidence every day, as oil spills from BP's well, of the need for a pause on deepwater drilling," said Salazar. "That evidence mounts as BP continues to be unable to stop its blowout, notwithstanding the huge efforts and help from the federal scientific team and most major oil companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico. The evidence also continues to mount that industry needs to raise the bar on blowout prevention, containment, and response planning before deepwater drilling should continue.
"Based on this ever-growing evidence, I will issue a new order in the coming days that eliminates any doubt that a moratorium is needed, appropriate, and within our authorities," he declared.
Salazar's threat of a new moratorium serves to increase offshore industry uncertainty as to whether it is commercially prudent to resume deepwater activity. This may well be his main purpose in issuing today's statement.
With a new, evidence-backed order supposedly in the works, it will be interesting to see how vigorously the administration pursues both its appeal of Judge Feldman's ruling and its defense of the separate suit challenging the original moratorium brought in U.S. District Court in Houston by Diamond Offshore.