Ten Oil Rigs Have Exited the Gulf of Mexico Since President Obama’s Moratorium Went Into Effect

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Ten oil rigs have left the Gulf of Mexico since the Obama Administration imposed a moratorium on deepwater oil and gas drilling in May 2010, according to documentation the Pelican Institute obtained from Sen. David Vitter’s (R-La.) office.

The ten rigs named in the document are: Marinas, Discover Americas, Ocean Endeavor, Ocean Confidence, Stena Forth, Clyde Bourdeaux, Ensco 8503, Deep Ocean Clarion, Discover Spirit, and Amirante. The rigs have left the Gulf for locations in Egypt, Congo, French Guiana, Liberia, Nigeria and Brazil.

“This highlights the problem we have with losing domestic energy production as a result of the drilling moratorium and the slow permitting,” David Kreutzer, a research fellow in Energy Economics and Climate Change at the Heritage Foundation, said. “We must also keep in mind that the impacts are not instantaneous, the rigs may be idle for a while, but once they move it’s going to be difficult to move them back once they are drilling in say Nigeria or Brazil.  The oil companies must have confidence they can move forward with their drilling plans and to know these plans won’t be revoked. Only certainty will bring them back.”

Although federal officials announced they were lifting the restrictions last October, a “de-facto moratorium” remains in effect that stifles energy production and undermines large and small businesses in the Gulf region, industry officials have argued.

“I don’t think the people in Washington D.C. who implement these policies have an understanding of how much this has impacted our economy, especially in Louisiana,” Renee Baker, the state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), said. “We can’t just look at the large businesses to understand what’s happening, there are small businesses that do a lot of services for the rigs and they have been set back. We just want to see people get back to work.”

Unfortunately, the “political uncertainty” surrounding the Gulf region has discouraged companies from making investments that could help spur economic growth, Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA), laments. Even before the 10 rigs cited in the document from Vitter’s office pulled out, eight other rigs that were planned for the Gulf were detoured away, Briggs said.

“When you have companies that would be spending hundreds of millions of dollars, or some cases, billions of dollars, they need certainty,” Briggs explained. “We don’t have that now and I don’t expect that we will anytime soon. We will be in a deteriorating position until this changes.”

Briggs also questions the necessity of the moratorium that was imposed in response to the explosion of British Petroleum’s (BP) Macondo oil well on April 20 of last year. The accident resulted in the death of 11 workers and caused an estimated five million barrels of crude oil to spill into the Gulf.

Despite whatever missteps were involved with BP’s oil drilling operations, the industry as a whole has a “great safety record” in the Gulf, but this has not been taken into account, Briggs noted.

“We would have implemented new rules and guidelines without any federal action. This could have been done without a moratorium. There is no getting around how severe the regulatory fallout has been for us,” Briggs said.

Meanwhile, Sen. David Vitter has called out top Obama administration officials for issuing what he views as conflicting and misleading statements on the correct number offshore drilling permits. A U.S. Justice Department motion filed in March stated there are 270 shallow water permit applications pending and 52 deepwater permit applications pending.

But in testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this past March, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the Interior Department had received only 47 shallow water permit applications over the previous nine months and that only seven deepwater permit applications were pending. Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement, told Vitter personally that only six deepwater permits were pending, and he publicly stated that deepwater permits would be limited because “only a handful of completed applications have been received.”

Over the past three months, deepwater permits are down 71 percent from their historical monthly average of 5.8 permits per month, Robert Bluey, a blogger and journalist with the Heritage Foundation, has reported on The Scribe. Shallow-water permits have also fallen in the past few weeks by 34 percent from the historical monthly average of 7.1 permits, Bluey reported.

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GM chief pushing for higher gas taxes

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Guess the chief of General Motors is pushing the same “green energy” agenda his boss Mr. Obama is pushing. He is also doing it the same way as Obama, if the American public won’t voluntarily change to the ‘green ‘ agenda, they’ll force us to by higher taxes on gasoline. If we could drill the oil reserves we have in the US, we’d be completely independent….but we can’t.

General Motors Co. CEO Dan Akerson wants the federal gas tax boosted as much as $1 a gallon to nudge consumers toward more fuel-efficient cars, and he’s confident the government will soon shed its remaining 26 percent stake in the once-bankrupt automaker.

“I actually think the government will be out this year — within the next 12 months, hopefully within the next six months,” Akerson said in a two-hour interview with The Detroit News last week.

He is grateful for the government’s rescue of GM — “I have nothing but good things to say about them” — but Akerson said the time for that relationship to end is coming because it’s wearing on GM.

“It’s kind of like your in-laws: It was a nice long weekend. We didn’t say a week,” Akerson said with a laugh.

And while he is eager to say goodbye to the government as a part owner of GM, Akerson would like to see it step up to the challenge of setting a higher gas tax, as part of a comprehensive energy policy.

A government-imposed tax hike, Akerson believes, will prompt more people to buy small cars and do more good for the environment than forcing automakers to comply with higher gas-mileage standards.

“There ought to be a discussion on the cost versus the benefits,” he said. “What we are going to do is tax production here, and that will cost us jobs.”

For the years 2017-25, federal officials are considering 3 percent to 6 percent annual fuel efficiency increases, or 47 mpg to 62 mpg. That could boost the cost of vehicles by up to $3,500.

“You know what I’d rather have them do — this will make my Republican friends puke — as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas,” Akerson said.

“People will start buying more Cruzes and they will start buying less Suburbans.”

With gas already over $4 a gallon in parts of the country, a higher gas tax is a hard sell.

Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Global Insight, said higher gas taxes in Europe did lead consumers to buy more fuel-efficient cars.

But she acknowledged that’s virtually impossible to see in the United States.

“It’s career suicide for a politician to call for raising gas taxes,” Lindland said.
From The Detroit News:

Obama Shifts to Speed Oil and Gas Drilling in U.S.

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This is about votes Folks! We saw the true Obama when he stopped off shore drilling last year….Obama in campaign mode for 2012.

Obama Shifts to Speed Oil and Gas Drilling in U.S.

President Obama, facing voter anger over high gasoline prices and complaints from Republicans and business leaders that his policies are restricting the development of domestic energy resources, announced Saturday that he was taking several steps to speed oil and gas drilling on public lands and waters.

It was at least a partial concession to his critics at a time when consumers are paying near-record prices at the gas pump. The Republican-led House passed three bills in the last 10 days that would significantly expand and accelerate oil development in the United States, saying the administration was driving up gas prices and preventing job creation with antidrilling policies.

Administration officials said the president’s announcement, which included plans for expanded drilling in Alaska and the prospect of new exploration off the Atlantic coast, was intended in part to answer those arguments, signal flexibility and demonstrate his commitment to reducing oil imports by increasing domestic production.

But in fact the policies announced Saturday would not have an immediate effect on supply or prices, nor would they quickly open any new areas to drilling.

“These spikes in gas prices are often temporary,” Mr. Obama said, “and while there are no quick fixes to the problem, there are a few steps we should take that make good sense.”

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Mr. Obama said the administration would begin to hold annual auctions for oil and gas leases in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve, a 23-million-acre tract on the North Slope of Alaska. The move comes after years of demands for the auctions by industry executives and Alaska’s two senators, Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, and Mark Begich, a Democrat.

The administration will also accelerate a review of the potential environmental impact of drilling off the southern and central Atlantic coast and will consider making some areas available for exploration. The move is a change from current policy, which puts the entire Atlantic Seaboard off limits to drilling until at least 2018.

The president also said he would extend leases already granted for drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico that had been frozen after the BP spill last year. The extension will allow companies time to meet new safety and environmental standards without having to worry about their leases expiring.

And the government will provide incentives for oil companies to more quickly exploit leases they already hold. Tens of millions of acres onshore and offshore are under lease but have not been developed.

The actions signal a return to a more industry-friendly approach to offshore operations that Mr. Obama had adopted early in his presidency, though they do not reverse some of the steps the administration made to slow drilling after the gulf disaster.

Hastening the review of drilling permits in Alaska and the possibility of offering parts of the Atlantic Coast for lease in the next few years, in particular, represent a significant change from the administration’s attitude toward drilling after the spill.

The moves come after the House passed a series of bills that would force the administration to move much further and faster to open public lands and waters to oil and gas development. The administration formally opposed the bills as written, but officials said Friday that the White House might accept some provisions in the bills, like extending the frozen leases in the gulf and in Alaska.

Responding to the shift by the administration, Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, said, “The president just conceded what his party on Capitol Hill still denies: more American energy production will lower costs and create jobs. This reversal is striking, since his administration has consistently blocked American-made energy.”

Although Mr. Buck characterized the policy changes as “not terribly substantial,” he added that they should “pave the way for legislation, like the bills the House passed in the past two weeks, to reduce the damage from the restrictions he imposed in the past.”

Entire article @ NYTimes.com

House Bucks Obama: Bill Jump-Starts Gulf Oil Production

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Well it’s about time somebody did something sensible like this if the president isn’t going to do and he isn’t.

Republicans are banking on a measure approved by the House on Thursday to lower gasoline prices by accelerating offshore lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The situation we find ourselves in today is detrimental to everyone who goes to the pump to fill their cars,” said Rep. Rob Bishop (R.-Utah). “The cost of gas increases, and continues to increase because of the inaction of this administration.”

The de facto moratorium on offshore drilling imposed by President Obama after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy last year has forced the importation of an additional 130,000 barrels of oil a day to make up for the lost production, Republicans say.

Democrats argued that the bill would lead to future environmental tragedies and insisted that more oil is being safely produced under President Obama than in President Bush’s administration.

Republicans countered that Americans are expected to spend an additional $700 on gasoline this year.

“The administration’s strategy is to cut the standard of living … and beg Saudi Arabia to be nice to us,” Bishop said.

The legislation is the first of several measures Republicans will act on in the next week, and imposes strict time lines on the Obama administration to sell leases in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore from Virginia.

President Obama has since lifted the moratorium, but few permits are actually being approved, Republicans said.

“Unfortunately, the administration turned the tragedy into a catastrophe … one that destroys jobs,” Bishop said.

HR 1230, the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, passed the House by a vote of 266 to 149, with 233 Republicans and 33 Democrats supporting the measure.

The Office of Management and Budget said in a statement that it opposes the legislation because it would undermine environmental protections and workplace safety.

The key measures are sponsored by Rep. Richard “Doc” Hastings (R.-Wash.), chairman of the House Energy Committee. The House on Tuesday will vote on HR 1229, which ends the moratorium and establishes new safety reviews.

“Continued tensions in the Middle East serve as a reminder that increased American energy production is as much of a national security issue as it is about jobs and lowering gasoline prices,” Hastings said.

“The United States has the most energy resources in the world and the American people are demanding that we utilize them to lower energy prices, create jobs, and make American less dependent on unstable foreign energy,” Hastings said.

Democrats said the measure reinforces the “myth” that America can drill itself out of foreign dependency. (myth? we do have enough oil here to be independent no doubt)

The measure is supported by several industry groups, who say congressional action is the only way to jump-start oil production.

“It’s sad that it takes an act of Congress to counter the damage done by the Obama administration,” said Jim Adams, president and CEO of the Offshore Marine Service Association.

“Despite assurances to the American people, the Obama administration continues to find new excuses for preventing workers from exploring for oil. As a result, thousands of Gulf workers are sitting idle, and Americans are paying $4 a gallon for gasoline,” Adams said.

Added Jim Noe, executive director of the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition: “We have the resources and technology to make America less dependent on foreign oil. All we need is for Congress to supply the will—the will to drill.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said she feels Americans’ pain at the pump, but insists that eliminating oil company subsidies will reduce costs.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.–Nev.) agrees, and circulated a letter to his colleagues this week urging them to back new proposals that will repeal what they estimate are billions of dollars in tax breaks.

In just the last few weeks, one oil rig off the coast of Louisiana has relocated to Egypt, said Rep. Steve Scalise, (R.-La.). “If you look at what their (Democrats’) plan is, it’s a warped policy,” said Scalise.

“Their answer is to raise $30 billion in taxes. Big Oil is not going to pay that. Big Oil is leaving, they are going to foreign countries,” Scalise said. “We’ve got to reverse this radical approach.”

Human Events

Obama Officials Tried to Convince S&P Not to Issue Credit Warning

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You think the White House doesn’t know what’s they’re doing and what’s going on? Don’t fool yourself!

Even though the White House has publicly downplayed the credit warning issued Monday from a leading agency, Obama administration officials were privately trying in recent weeks to convince Standard & Poor’s not to lower its outlook for U.S. debt from “stable” to “negative,” Fox News has confirmed.

But after a series of meetings between the Treasury Department and S&P, the ratings agency ignored the pressure and told administration officials late Friday that the U.S. government was at risk of losing its sterling credit rating, a senior administration official told Fox News.

The Washington Post first reported on the private meetings in which Treasury officials argued to S&P analysts that a ratings change was unnecessary because the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt was under control and the administration had a feasible plan in the offing. Treasury officials also contended to S&P analysts that they were overlooking the ability of U.S. lawmakers to reach a compromise to tame deficits.

But the argument failed. The agency based its assessment on the sentiment that a budget agreement addressing the country’s long-term deficit and debt problem might not be reached until after the 2012 election.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a tweet, “It is alarming that the WH would encourage S&P to suppress a damaging fiscal report for Obama’s partisan speech.”

The White House has been trying to minimize the credit warning ever since it was issued Monday. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, in an interview with Fox Business Network Tuesday morning, said there is no risk the country will lose its AAA credit rating.

White House chief spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that the political atmosphere for consensus is better than S&P predicts.

Read entire article @ Fox News

Oil markets brace for Saudi ‘rage’ as global spare capacity wears thin

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Oil markets brace for Saudi ‘rage’ as global spare capacity wears thin

Goldman Sachs suspects that OPEC has been pumping far above its agreed quota since November and therefore cannot easily raise output much without cutting deep into global spare capacity.

Jeff Currie, the bank’s oil guru, said Saudi output had quietly crept up by 700,000 barrels a day (bpd) even before the Libyan supply shock.

Assumptions that OPEC has added 1.9m bpd over the last two years are wishful thinking. These new fields have been “largely offset” by attrition in old fields.

“We believe that OPEC spare capacity has already dropped below 2m bpd. The question therefore arises how much spare capacity is left to absorb potential supply disruptions in other countries,” he said.

If this picture is broadly correct, spare capacity is already close to the wafer-thin levels that led to wild price moves in mid-2008.
Telegraph

What Makes Gas Prices Soar? More Than Just Oil

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Just think if we didn’t have the deep sea moratorium and could drill in the continental United States.

It’s one of the biggest unknowns in the petroleum industry. Just how do
gas station owners decide how much you pay at the pump? A gas station
owner near Atlanta offers some answers.

Finance Armageddon

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