Judge finds DOI in contempt for imposing second deepwater ban

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 3 -- A federal district court judge in New Orleans found the US Department of the Interior in contempt of his order to lift a moratorium on deepwater drilling, which DOI imposed following the Macondo well accident and oil spill last spring. Regulators acted with “determined disregard” by instituting a second ban after Judge Martin L.C. Feldman overturned the Obama administration’s first moratorium on June 22, Feldman said in a Feb. 2 ruling.

He said that each step DOI took after he imposed a preliminary injunction against the first moratorium showed its defiance. “Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the reimposition of a second blanket and substantially identical moratorium, provide this court with clear and convincing evidence of the government’s contempt,” Feldman said. DOI is reviewing the judge’s decision, a spokeswoman told OGJ on Feb. 3.

Hornbeck Offshore Services LLC and other offshore companies sued to overturn Interior Sec. Ken Salazar’s first deepwater drilling moratorium and continued their action when he imposed the second on July 12. Feldman also granted their request to recover their “significant” legal expenses on Feb. 2. 

He said Salazar issued orders on July 12 for the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement to withdraw suspension letters it had issued to deepwater operators under the first moratorium, but also told the agency to issue blanket orders under the second, which was similar.

It disabled the same rigs and activities, although it dropped the 500 ft depth standard from the first and replaced it with restraints on all rigs using subsea blowout preventers or surface BOPs on a floating facility, Feldman said. It also imposed the same Nov. 30 expiration date that was in the first moratorium, he added.

Two Republican congressional energy leaders commented on Feldman’s latest ruling on Feb. 3. “While I was able to understand the administration’s initial reaction in suspending operations, the reality is that the moratorium is still in effect, and this directly violates the court’s ruling,” said US Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.), the Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s ranking minority member.

“There are billions of barrels of oil and millions of jobs, from Alaska to Louisiana, that Americans should be benefiting from. Instead, we’re losing good jobs and paying prices at a time when Americans are already tightening their budgets,” she maintained.

US House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said that both Feldman’s original ruling striking down the deepwater drilling moratorium and his latest decision to hold DOI in contempt of court “correctly puts the letter of the law ahead of the Obama administration’s agenda.” Hastings added, “Hopefully, this ruling takes us one step closer to ending the de facto moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

Anadarko reports 2014 loss, remains upbeat about Wattenberg

02/03/2015 Anadarko Petroleum Corp. announced a 2014 net loss of $1.75 billion, or $3.47/share diluted, including a net loss of $4.05 billion associated with ...

CNOOC cuts capital budget, starts production from Jinzhou 9-3

02/03/2015 CNOOC Ltd. is slashing its capital budget for 2015 by 26-35% to $11.25-12.86 billion compared with last year’s budget. Capital expenditures for exp...

Seven Group buys into Beach Energy

02/03/2015 Media group Seven Group Holdings, Perth, has bought 13.8% of Adelaide-based Beach Energy Ltd. through share purchases fuelling speculation of a pos...

Karve joins Cobalt for Cameia development

02/03/2015 Shashank V. Karve has joined Cobalt International Energy Inc. as executive vice-president in charge of development of deepwater Cameia oil field on...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil stays positive on lower rig count

02/03/2015 Oil prices on the New York and London markets closed higher Feb. 2 on positive momentum generated by a falling US rig count, suggesting cuts in pro...

Obama’s proposed fiscal 2016 budget recycles oil tax increases

02/02/2015 US President Barack Obama has proposed his federal budget for fiscal 2016 that he said was designed to help a beleaguered middle class take advanta...

MOL absorbs Eni’s Romanian retail assets

02/02/2015

MOL Group, Budapest, has completed the acquisition of Eni Romania, including 42 service stations to be rebranded under the MOL name.

CNOOC subsidiary inks deal for grassroots refinery

02/02/2015 Hebei Zhongjie Petrochemical Group Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), has entered into a $700 million agreement w...

Pessimism mounts over UK offshore industry

02/02/2015

Pessimism about the UK offshore oil and gas industry is gaining momentum.

White Papers

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...
Available Webcasts


Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

When Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

When Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST


Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected