Jan. 3, 2011 06:15

[UPDATE: In a followup to its Monday morning story, the Wall Street Journal noted that the Obama administration is trying to clear a path for 13 oil and gas companies to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico after their drilling was suspended following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.]

[UPDATE: In afternoon reporting Monday, The Wall Street Journal noted that the Obama administration is trying to clear a path for 13 oil and gas companies to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico after their drilling was suspended following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The companies, including ATP Oil & Gas Corp. (which kept a $330,000-per-day crew in the Gulf while awaiting a permit after the deepwater drilling moratorium was lifted), Chevron USA Inc., Noble Energy Inc. and Shell Offshore Inc., will likely be allowed to forego detailed environmental reviews but will still have to comply with new safety regulations before they revive their deepwater drilling projects. Read more here.]

An ominous portent of south Louisiana's economic future in today's Wall Street Journal: More than two months after the Obama administration lifted its ban on deep-water drilling, experts now predict that such activity in the Gulf of Mexico will not resume until at least the second half of 2011, if not 2012. The Journal cites a slow-down in the permitting process and a broad range of new regulations on oil companies.

According to the article:

The slowdown also has long-term implications for U.S. oil production. The Energy Information Administration, the research arm of the Department of Energy, last month predicted that domestic offshore oil production will fall 13% this year from 2010 due to the moratorium and the slow return to drilling; a year ago, the agency predicted offshore production would rise 6% in 2011. The difference: a loss of about 220,000 barrels of oil a day.

Drilling in waters of less than 500 feet also has been snared by the government's increased scrutiny. Regulators requested modifications to 101 shallow-water drilling plans in 2010, compared with 59 such requests in 2009 and just 31 in 2008. Rig operators say drilling permits once approved in a matter of weeks have taken up to five months to process as the government introduced new rules.

Read the full article here.

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