Oil trade groups: Drilling deregulation could create 190,000 jobs

Almost 190,000 jobs could be created by 2013 if offshore drilling returns to pre-spill levels, according to a study sponsored by two oil trade groups, the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) and the American Petroleum Institute (API).

The study, conducted by Quest Offshore Inc., found that if permits for exploration and drilling returned to historic levels, and if backlogged requests were granted, 400,000 jobs could be supported across the United States with a GDP increase of $45 billion by 2013.

“The president says he wants ideas for putting Americans back to work right now,” said Jack Gerard, API president, during a conference call today. “So we urge him, again, to take a look at policies that will encourage oil, and domestic gas development.”

The offshore oil and natural gas industries suffered losses in 2008 due to the economic recession, the moratorium on deepwater drilling, and slowdowns in permits issued for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The study’s authors claim tens of thousands of jobs have been lost due to the downturn.

Gerard echoed the study’s conclusions, saying the United States has the opportunity to increase employment and secure “as much as 92 percent of [its] oil needs from North American resources.”

Both Gerard and NOIA president Randall Luthi agreed the industry needs the ability to explore newly identified petroleum deposits everywhere, including in East- and West-coast waters. Currently only 15 percent of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf is available for exploration. (New border gun rules a distraction from Fast and Furious scandal, Issa says)

“We’ve got to get out there and have the opportunity to look,” Gerard said, “and the industry needs some insurance that this is serious — that there’s a leasing process in place to eventually commit the resources to go find what level of resources are available, and then to develop it at that point. So given those opportunities, I can guarantee you the industry will spend its money wisely. But you need to have the opportunity.”