Deepwater Drilling in Gulf 'Back With a Vengeance'

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Common Dreams

Deepwater Drilling in Gulf 'Back With a Vengeance'

by
Common Dreams staff

Despite the ongoing environmental and public health disasters left in the wake of BP's Deepwater Horizon "oilpocalypse" two years ago, deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is "back with a vengeance."

Make Big Oil Pay march to Chevron, EPA & BP 210

"We are seeing deep-water drilling coming back with a vengeance in the Gulf," said Dr. RV Ahilan, executive vice-president for GL Noble Denton, a technical adviser for the oil and gas industry. "The price is too big to ignore. People are quite keen and are booking rigs for long drilling campaigns in deeper drilling waters."

Reflecting on the Deepwater Horizon disaster anniversary, Phil Radford, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA and Aaron Viles, Deputy Director of Gulf Restoration Network write, "Two years later and misguided politicians are not doing what’s needed to fix the Gulf nor are they changing the 'energy as usual' policies that got us in trouble in the first place."

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Houston Chronicle: Drilling in deep Gulf getting busy again

Drilling in the deep Gulf of Mexico is becoming robust two years after the oil spill that prompted a six-month moratorium on deep-water exploration, but more of the work now is left to large companies.

Triple-digit oil prices are driving the activity, making it worthwhile to go forward even given the cost, risk and heightened government scrutiny of working in waters often a mile deep or more.

"We are seeing deep-water drilling coming back with a vengeance in the Gulf," said Dr. RV Ahilan, executive vice-president for GL Noble Denton, a technical adviser for the oil and gas industry. "The price is too big to ignore. People are quite keen and are booking rigs for long drilling campaigns in deeper drilling waters."

But while activity has resumed, it involves a smaller group of players with the deep pockets and deep experience necessary to navigate the complexity of the Gulf.

"It has always been dominated by the large internationals - the BPs and Chevrons - and in the future that is likely to be even more so," said Pavel Molchanov, an analyst with Raymond James. "They are really the only companies that can take on the liability risk of having a multibillion-dollar oil spill." [...]

"Chevron's pace of drilling in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico is ahead of our pre-moratorium pace," said Steve Thurston, the company's vice president of deep-water exploration. "Before the moratorium, we had three drillships working in the deep-water Gulf. We now have four drillships working, and our fifth drillship will arrive at the end of April."

Chevron holds 14 of the 44 permits issued this year and Shell has 13.

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