NOIA President Randall Luthi issued the following statement on November 22 in response to Interior Secretary Salazar’s meeting with offshore industry executives in Houma, Louisiana:
“Senator Landrieu is a champion for the offshore energy industry, and we applaud her tremendous efforts in brokering today’s meeting. We also thank Governor Bobby Jindal, Lieutenant Governor Scott Angelle, Senator David Vitter and Congressman (elect) Jeff Landry for their support.
“Secretary Salazar’s agreement to meet face-to-face with industry to discuss a path forward out of the deepwater drilling and de facto moratoria in the Gulf and to provide certainty and regulatory clarity was a positive gesture, and while we appreciate his promise of forthcoming decisions and announcements it will be his deeds, not his words, that will enable the offshore industry to return to work. Today, the Secretary heard first-hand what inaction in Washington, D.C. does to Americas workers. Ships, rigs and vessels are idle. Workers are getting pink slips. The industry is waiting for action from the Department, not words. They want to get back to work.
“Despite the end of the deepwater drilling moratorium over a month ago, the industry has been in limbo because the Department of the Interior has not been issuing the number or type of permits industry needs to really get back to work in either shallow or deep water. Both industry and the government are seeking to define the “new normal” for offshore operations and both have made progress and are continuing to develop solutions to address safety and spill issues through significant improvements in the areas of accident prevention, intervention and containment.
“We are encouraged by the Secretary’s efforts to reallocate personnel and obtain new hires to process permits. The resumption of the responsible issuance of permits for shallow water operations in the Gulf would be a good start, but the real signal to industry that deepwater and de facto moratoria are truly over, and that certainty and regulatory clarity are returning will be the issuance of the first permit for new exploratory drilling in the deepwater Gulf. Time is running out, especially for the smaller, independent producers in the Gulf. If permits don’t start flowing their way, they will see more lost rigs and jobs.
“In addition to a growing backlog of permit applications, the Secretary has multiple irons in the fire, including decisions on seismic studies, categorical exclusions, completion of sales in the 2007-2012 offshore leasing plan, formulation of the 2012-2017 offshore leasing plan, and the necessary environmental analyses required for these plans and lease sales in both the Gulf and Alaska. Now would be a good time for the Secretary to take an iron out of the fire and put his brand on a positive decision that will put industry back to work producing oil and gas needed to fuel American cars, homes, businesses and job growth.”
Also on November 22, members of the Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) met in Houma, La. with Salazar to discuss ongoing challenges affecting the offshore oil and gas industry. OMSA urged a clearly defined roadmap for obtaining shallow and deepwater drilling permits in order to get this vital industry back to work before additional strategic energy assets are mobilized to foreign offshore markets.
Jim Adams, Interim President/CEO, OMSA said:
"While we appreciate the opportunity to meet with Secretary Salazar to ask for long overdue regulatory clarity that will allow work to resume in the Gulf, we want an end to the Administration's hollow promises. The Administration has repeatedly denied there being a de facto shallow water moratorium, even though the issuance of permits has practically halted since May. Similarly, despite lifting the moratorium on October 12, not a single deep water exploration permit has been issued, despite permit applicants providing evidence of compliance with new governmental requirements designed to increase drilling safety since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. This de facto moratorium affecting both deepwater and shallow water operations places our nation's long-term energy production capabilities and its national security at risk.”
"Other countries are taking advantage of the U.S. moratorium to secure our most strategic assets and technology, forcing OMSA members to bid long-term contracts to markets such as Brazil and West Africa," he continued.
The ban on deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has had a significant impact across the entire U.S. economy, placing thousands of jobs at risk in the midst of a weak economy.
"The time is now for our government to take unequivocal action, take those steps necessary to put Americans back to work and to secure our long-term strategic national energy interests," Adams continued.
OMSA also thanked Senator Mary Landrieu, a steadfast champion for the men and women who work on offshore support vessels that make oil and gas production possible, along with Senator David Vitter for his leadership and for attending the meeting.