Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Judge says 150,000 jobs tied to offshore gulf operations

The offshore industry is crucial to the economies of communities along the Gulf of Mexico, US District Judge Martin Feldman of New Orleans notes in his ruling blocking a 6-month deepwater drilling moratorium in the gulf.

The moratorium stemmed from the Apr. 20 explosion and fire on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible rig, which was drilling the Macondo well in 5,000 ft of water for BP PLC and its partners. Eleven people were killed and a massive oil spill resulted.

US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar believes industry needs to refine blowout prevention, containment, and response planning before deepwater drilling should resume. DOE is appealing the temporary injunction that Feldman granted, blocking the drilling moratorium.

In his June 22 ruling, Feldman discussed how gulf drilling activities rely upon a vast and complex network of technology, assets, people, and experience.

“Indeed, an estimated 150,000 jobs are directly related to offshore operations,” Feldman said. “The government admits that the industry provides relatively high-paying jobs in drilling and production activities.”

Hornbeck Offshore Services Co. of Covington, La., and some 30 other companies requested the preliminary injunction against the moratorium. Feldman said plaintiffs own and operate vessels, shipyards, and supply service companies that support deepwater exploration and production.

“In addition to the vessels and facilities involved in their work, the plaintiffs together employ over 11,875 people,” Feldman said. “At least 19 other companies, aside from BP’s operations involved with Deepwater Horizon, are presently operating deepwater drilling rigs.”

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