Offshore Drilling Sites Could Expand

Monday, September 12, 2005
As the clean-up and recovery in the wake of Hurricane Katrina proceeds, industry and lawmakers are apparently considering opening additional offshore sites for energy exploration and production to minimize disruption to the nation’s energy supply chain in the event of future natural disasters.

According to a report at The State.com – South Carolina’s Home Page, some South Carolina lawmakers are pushing for a change in federal law that would allow drilling for natural gas off the state’s coast. Another report from the Boston Herald reports that some Republicans reportedly may advance a plan to let states sponsor exploration for oil and gas in federal waters off their coasts now closed to drilling. As oil prices soar in the wake of Katrina, forcing the President to temporarily lift the Jones Act as a means to ensure enough ships are available to deliver oil and gas, lawmakers and industry alike are scurrying to ensure this scene is not repeated in the event of another natural disaster in the critically important Gulf of Mexico area.

State lawmakers are apparently pushing for lifting the federal moratorium in certain areas, envisioning a windfall of gas royalties for their states. While the movement is in its infancy, it will undoubtedly hit resistance from environmental groups. According to The State.com report, a recent Interior Department survey indicated there might be as much as 327 trillion cubic feet of natural gas off the U.S. coast in areas under federal control.

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