Gulf of Mexico drilling companies push back on Obama’s ‘de facto moratorium’

Amanda Carey Contributor
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The Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) on Thursday launched a national campaign calling on President Obama to lift regulations that prevent deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The association represents more than 250 companies that own and operate U.S. flag service vessels.

The OMSA sent a letter to Obama, denouncing what the organization called an “illegal suspension of deepwater drilling in the Gulf.” The campaign will include advertisements, public outreach and a website with information on the “de facto moratorium.”

“President Obama has been trying to fool Americans into thinking that he lifted the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf,” said Todd Hornbeck, the president of Hornbeck Offshore Operators and chairman of the OMSA.

“Our education campaign will call him out on the facts: The Obama administration is not issuing deepwater drilling permits, and the results have been devastating. It’s hurting tens of thousands of workers, increasing prices for gasoline and heating oil, and making America even more dependent on foreign oil,” said Hornbeck.

Jim Adams, the president of OMSA added that Obama’s response to the oil spill over the summer was “unreasonable, unwarranted, unfair and unlawful.”

The Daily Caller reported that Texas-based Seahawk Drilling last week became the first company in the Gulf to go bankrupt as a result of the government-imposed shortage of shallow-water permits.

(First Gulf oil drilling company claims bankruptcy due to Obama’s moratorium. Read more.)

Seahawk Chief Executive Randy Stilley said in a statement: “I think it is important to note that Seahawk was forced to seek strategic alternatives only after an unprecedented decline in the issuance of offshore drilling permits following the Macondo blowout.”

A spokesperson from the Department of the Interior told TheDC in an email that the Obama administration has “launched the most aggressive and comprehensive reforms to ensure the safe development of offshore oil and gas regulation and oversight in U.S. history,” in response to the spill.

The spokesperson said the reforms were necessary to “address lapses in both federal regulation and in industry compliances with critical federal standards.”

Since June 8, the Department of the Interior has issued 31 new permits for shallow-water drilling, but some say that pace is slower than it has been in previous years.