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July 11, 2010

First Rig Sets Sail from the Gulf

President Obama's Gulf drilling moratorium has driven away its first oil rig.

And the Ocean Endeavor's exodus probably won't be the last, according to oil industry officials and Gulf Coast leaders who warn that other companies eager to find work for the now-idled rigs are considering moving them outside the U.S.

Devon Energy Corp. had been leasing the Endeavor to drill in the same region of the Gulf as BP's leaking Macondo well, which has been gushing crude since a lethal blowout April 20.

But Diamond announced Friday it will lease the rig through June 30, 2011, to Cairo-based Burullus Gas Co., which plans to send the Endeavor to Egyptian waters immediately.

Larry Dickerson, CEO of Houston-based Diamond, signaled that other of his company's rigs could be relocated, too.

The Gulf economy won big when the district court knocked down Obama's drilling ban as "arbitrary and capricious" and won again at the Fifth Circuit, which refused to keep the ban in effect during the appeal. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration keeps signaling that it won't allow drilling no matter what the courts say. On the day the Fifth Circuit ruled against, the Administration announced that if any company attempted to resume drilling it would reissue its drilling moratorium, forcing the issue back to the courts again.

That is the very definition of "arbitrary and capricious" government action, but the uncertainty it creates is more than enough to depress economic activity in the Gulf.

"There are two types of rigs in the deep-water Gulf today: those that are leaving the country and those that want to, because with this moratorium hanging over their heads, they simply can't go back to work," Brady said. "I'm afraid this is the first of many rigs and many American jobs to leave the Gulf."

Yup.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 11:07 AM

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