Trump Expected to Initiate Offshore Action

FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 2017

President Donald J. Trump is expected to sign an executive order today (April 28) that will roll back limitations on offshore drilling that were put into place by the administration of Barack Obama.

The document, according to The New York Times, will order Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review an order, put into place last December by Obama, that called for a moratorium on new offshore drilling off the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts for the next five years, and indefinitely in the Arctic Ocean and parts of the Atlantic.

That order had been viewed as a last-ditch effort by the Obama administration to at least delay the expansion of offshore drilling that was anticipated to be brought about by Trump and his administration. Because the order does not include language that provides for its repeal, efforts to undo the offshore block could face lengthy legal hurdles.

Other Obama-Era Regulations

In April 2016, the Interior Department issued new regulations that called for more thorough inspections of offshore rigs and changes to the way federal offshore-related programs are run, in a move the Obama administration said was the last of its moves in reaction to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill.

Those regulations are likely also under review, as Zinke told reporters earlier this week that “We’re going to look at everything” in relation to offshore regulations.

No drilling has been done in the Atlantic off the U.S. coast in decades, and no new leases have been available off the coast of California since 1984. Some rigs continue to operate on previously existing leases in municipal or state waters.

Rigs Down, Production Up

According to reports, there are currently 20 operation offshore rigs operating in federal waters off the coast of the United States, down two in the past two weeks, and down six year-over-year. All are in the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. Energy Information Administration numbers show that offshore drilling reached its peak in terms of number of rigs in 1982, when 280 were operational. The last time that number was great than 100 was 2005.

While rig count is down, though, production of oil offshore in the Gulf is as high as ever, with the EIA reporting that 1,748,000 barrels per day were produced in January, nearly matching a previous record set in 2009 and accounting for almost 20 percent of the country’s oil production that month.


Tagged categories: Government; North America; Offshore; Oil and Gas; President Trump; Program/Project Management; Regulations

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