Just as the big oil companies are expected to distance themselves from BP at Congressional hearings today, it seems that some Gulf shallow water oil and gas operators are seeking to distinguish themselves from their deepwater counterparts.
Shallow water drilling has so far not been subject to a moratorium in the US — despite fleeting reports to the contrary — but the industry is not taking any chances, forming a new coalition and, according to the Houston Chronicle, hiring Washington lobbyists. The industry says that even without a direct moratorium, confusion and hesitation over what new regulations might be introduced in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
The Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition’s new website points out that it is responsible for thousands of jobs and is doesn’t carry the same risks as deepwater production.
Shallow water drilling (defined as less than 1,000 feet water depth) is indeed different to deep water – it has been around a lot longer and in comparison to the new ultra-deep wells (in 5,000+ of water) is using somewhat simpler technology. (There is an emerging interest in deep drilling for gas beneath shallow waters, however, that might, er, muddy the waters somewhat.)
Of course the oil yielded from shallow water drilling is also in decline — as the below chart shows — and that will no doubt be another reason those involved feel they can’t afford a delay.