Landrieu lists alternatives to 6-month deepwater drilling ban

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, June 12 -- US Sen. Mary L. Landrieu said there are eight ways offshore energy production could move safely forward without imposing a 6-month drilling moratorium in water deeper than 500 ft that could cost Gulf Coast residents tens of thousands of jobs.

In a June 11 letter to US President Barack Obama, Landrieu urged him to reconsider the moratorium that he ordered on May 27 and instead evaluate “a series of fundamental changes to offshore drilling practices that will serve to demonstrably reduce the risk of deepwater drilling while sparing the Gulf Coast’s economic vitality.”

Her suggestions included allowing deepwater operators to resume “drilling through dirt”—that is, drilling through the targeted oil and gas reservoirs without allowing the hydrocarbon reservoirs to be penetrated. Critical processes associated with drilling and completing deepwater wells based on systemic risk analysis could also be identified, and federal inspectors to examine all surface and subsea well-control equipment currently being used could also be deployed, she said.

She also recommended rigorous inspections of each operator’s drilling and casing and completion practices to ensure that well control contingencies are not compromised at any point, and compelling rig operators to demonstrate that they have the emergency power equipment necessary to ensure proper operation.

“I understand and respect your efforts to reduce the risk of a second massive blowout in the Gulf of Mexico,” Landrieu said in her letter. “However, I believe that we can demonstrably improve the safety of deepwater drilling without shutting down the Gulf Coast economy for more than 6 months. The proposals will not eliminate all risk. But there are no risk-free ways of producing the energy we rely on today.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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