Good Luck Trying to Figure This One Out: Is Shallow Water Drilling Banned, Or Not?

Joe Schoffstall | June 3, 2010
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Earlier on Thursday, an e-mail from the Minerals Management Service's (MMS) supervisor of field operations for the Gulf of Mexico, said that drilling would be stopped in shallow waters in the Gulf due to the recent oil rig explosion. Now, the Interior Department has denied this. A spokesman from the department said "shallow water drilling may continue as long as oil and gas operations satisfy the environmental and safety requirements Secretary [Ken] Salazar outlined in his report to the President and have exploration plans that meet those requirements. There is no moratorium on shallow water drilling", according to the Washington Post. Kendra Barkoff, a spokeswoman for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the AP "There is a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling," Barkoff said in an e-mail Thursday. "Shallow-water drilling may continue as long as oil and gas operations satisfy the environmental and safety requirements Secretary Salazar outlined in his report to the president and have exploration plans that meet those requirements. There is no moratorium on shallow water drilling." In essence, shallow water drilling was declared banned until further notice, but not really. It get's a tiny bit more confusing. A regional supervisor of the MMA Gulf region told one company looking to obtain a permit that"until further notice we have been informed not to approve or allow any drilling no matter the water depth," The weird thing noted by WaPo was just three days before the e-mail exchange, the supervisor told the same company that the Obama moratorium would not affect drilling in water up to 500 feet. I guess the real question is: Does anyone know what's really going on? Highly unlikely.

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