WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- In advance of an expected announcement on the fate of the deepwater drilling moratorium, U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM) Director Michael Bromwich Tuesday morning defended the Obama administration's pause in issuing new deepwater drilling permits, saying it was necessary, even though "real and substantial pain has been inflicted on people, particularly in the Gulf region." He made his comments at a Platts Energy Podium newsmaker event in Washington, D.C.
Bromwich delivered a report to U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar October 1 with recommendations on whether to end the moratorium early, but he did not say what was contained in the report.
Substantial progress has been made on breaking the backlog of shallow water permits, especially in the past few weeks, Bromwich told the Platts Energy Podium, a news briefing event hosted by Platts, a leading global energy and metals information provider. BOEM has redirected the efforts of 20 employees to reviewing shallow water permits.
Bromwich said that, as of September 28, only six permits had been issued, prompting drillers to accuse BOEM of enforcing a "de facto" shallow water moratorium.
That number has risen to 12 and only seven are pending, Bromwich said. Most of the new permits have come in since October 1, he added.
The director also said that U.S. oil and gas companies will likely have to provide more electronic data in real-time to federal regulators as part of a "major" overhaul of the government's offshore oil inspection program. The data would be collected as part of BOEM officials' efforts to prevent disasters like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
"One of the things that have emerged from some of these investigations is that there is a need for more instrumentation on the rigs to provide real-time kinds of electronic data to us as the regulator," Bromwich said.
Bromwich and Salazar were scheduled to make a separate announcement about the drilling moratorium later in the day on Tuesday.
A recording of the Bromwich session is available via podcast at this link: http://platts.com/PodcastsDetail.aspx?xmlPath=EnergyPodium/energypodium.xml. You may be asked to complete a one-time-only cost-free Platts website log-in if you haven't filled one out previously. A video tape is expected to be available by Friday at this video link.
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