For the oil and gas industry, the timing of Mariner Energy’s explosion in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday could not be worse. The day before, about 5,000 members of the industry had gathered in a convention center in Houston to call for the lifting of the moratorium on new deepwater drilling in the gulf and to protest against proposed taxes and other measures.
The industry’s point was that deepwater drilling creates jobs and benefits the economy at a time when the country desperately needs more – not less – jobs and economic investment.
Yet the government’s point has been that, above all, the industry must operate safely. The Macondo well incident has raised questions about whether the industry could be operating more safely in the gulf. And while the majors contend that they are safe and would not have had the accident BP had, the Bureau for Ocean Energy Management says it must ensure that is the case. The moratorium is giving the government time to determine what must be done to ensure best practices across the industry.