President Obama lifted the ban on deepwater drilling this week, seven weeks ahead of schedule.  The government believes that new offshore safety rules have reduced potential risks enough to allow drilling to resume.  Companies engaging in deepwater drilling must comply with very new and untested regulations, including submitting every rig for governmental inspection.  The increased supervision will slow the return of drilling to the economically hard-hit Gulf Coast region.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar released a statement saying, “The oil and gas industry will be operating under tighter rules, stronger oversight, and in a regulatory environment that will remain dynamic as we continue to build on the reforms we have already implemented.”

Deepwater drilling and offshore oil and gas exploration in general have pitted financially-invested groups against environmental groups.  Those whose companies are suffering the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars right now would like the government to quickly grant offshore drilling permits.  Groups working to protect at-risk wildlife affected by the BP oil spill are in shock over the early end to the drilling moratorium.  Either way, it will take years for the Gulf of Mexico drilling operations to return to their normal level of activity.  So the question our maritime lawyers asked months ago remains: did the drilling moratorium hurt more than it helped?

The deepwater drilling moratorium was imposed in May 2010 after the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig explosion led to the worst United States oil spill in history.  The ban did not stop oil production from existing wells; it simply prevented the drilling of new wells for eventual production.

Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers is still accepting cases for the BP Oil Spill Claims and for injuries and wrongful deaths caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.  If you or someone you know has questions or has not yet hired a maritime lawyer to assist them with their claims for business interruption, loss of income, personal injury, or any other damage associated with the Macondo well rupture, please contact us today at [email protected].