NEW ORLEANS, LA — The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (previously the Minerals Management Service) is hosting a series of public forums, which began Wednesday, August 4, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
This is the first in a series of public forums scheduled over the next six weeks for Louisiana, California, Alaska, Mississippi and Texas.
The agency is hosting the forums to solicit expert opinion from oil executives, environmentalists and others to gather information on making a decision about the deepwater drilling moratorium which is scheduled to remain in effect until November 30, 2010.
Topics under discussion involve additional safety measures government and the oil industry need to put in place to prevent another disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico like the one involving BP (British Petroleum).
Michael Bromwich, director of the bureau, was in attendance at the New Orleans forum and discussed the deep-water drilling moratorium.
At the meeting Bromwich said that the Obama administration was considering an early end to the deepwater drilling ban. As a result of the of the BP oil spill and the moratorium that followed, 33 wells in the Gulf of Mexico have been shut down.
According to Director Bromwich, the forums would be held in an effort to develop a “level of comfort” that would allow the interior department to lift the moratorium. The focus of the discussion would be on drilling and workplace safety, spill containment and spill response.
At the New Orleans public forum, Bromwich would not give a specific timeline for the end of the moratorium but did say that he wouldn’t make any recommendations about lifting the ban until mid-September at the earliest.
Still, thousands of Gulf Coast jobs are hanging in the balance and much is at stake. The decision whether to shorten the deepwater drilling ban will depend to a large extent on the confidence that oil companies will have equipment, procedures and technology in place that will reduce the chance of another blowout and be able to contain spills at depths.