BP's back in the drilling game in Gulf of Mexico
Wake up and good morning. Looks like BP's back in business in the Gulf of Mexico. After an internal debate, the Obama administration said Thursday that BP can now bid on new oil leases in the gulf. Oddly, the announcement came a day after the Interior Department cited BP and its two principal contractors for numerous safety and environmental violations related to the gulf explosion (left, AP photo) that sank the Deepwater Horizon rig in April 2010. Read more in this New York Times story.
Just in time. Two million deepwater acres will be opened for exploration and drilling in the western gulf.
Not everyone, of course, agrees with the federal decision. The Obama administration’s move to let BP bid for leases was sharply criticized by environmentalists. "We think it’s too soon to let BP back in there," Athan Manuel, director of lands protection at the Sierra Club, told the NYTimes. "These guys shouldn’t have the benefit of the doubt anymore."
But members of Congress from economy-strapped areas of the Gulf say the drilling moratorium is hurting the chances to rebound. An Alabama newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, also cites the concerns voiced by Bruce Craul, chairman-elect of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. Craul said last year's oil spill and the moratorium dealt a serious blow to tourism in Florida, which represents 20 percent of the state's economy. He said association members oppose drilling off Florida's coastline, but they acknowledge that much of their revenue comes from energy industry workers in neighboring Gulf states.
He noted that several oil rigs have left the Gulf. "The rigs are gone, and of course no one really knows when or if they will be coming back since rigs are in demand all over the world," he told the Alabama paper. Still, the trade group boasts its industry has added more than 46,000 jobs to Florida between August 2010 and August 2011. Read more here.
So, BP, America's memory is short and it appears almost all is forgiven. Welcome back to the Gulf of Mexico.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times