Offshore Drilling Ban Lifted. But...

Brian Hicks

Updated October 12, 2010

Seven weeks early, Obama lifted the moratorium of deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico…

But drillers have to play by Obama’s rules in order to move forward… meaning that the CEO of a company responsible for the well must certify it has complied with all regulations. That automatically makes this person liable for accidents moving forward.

Each operator will also need to have containment resources available in case of another blowout…

Rigs must also certify they have working blowout preventers and standards for cementing procedures.

However, according to Todd Hornbeck, CEO of Hornbeck Offshore Services’, companies are still “in the dark. The devil is in the details, as they say, and the industry hasn’t seen the final requirements for what we would have to do to be able to actually get a permit issued…”

“Until that is done, lifting the moratorium may be just a moot or perfunctory act. … Right now, I’m skeptical that it will be anytime soon that permits will be issued even if the moratorium is lifted.”

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told press that the decision was arrived at in light of “significant progress in reducing the risks associated with deepwater drilling,” adding, “I have decided that it is now appropriate to lift the suspension on deepwater drilling for those operators that are able to clear the higher bar that we have set.”

The administration issued a number of new laws involving worker safety, blowout preventers, cementing, worker training, and more. But while the moratorium has been lifted, it may take weeks or months before the 33 deepwater rigs in the gulf can resume drilling.

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