Shallow-water drillers cautiously greet Interior review plan

Deepwater oil-and-gas drilling remains under a federal moratorium that could last until late November. But the shallow-water group says there has been a de facto ban on its operations that is causing layoffs.

Noe said that since the BP blowout in April, there have been just two shallow-water drilling permits issued, when the normal rate is three or four per week.

He said that under the new Interior guidelines, most shallow-water wells would still qualify for so-called categorical exclusions from detailed, project-specific environmental assessments under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Noe is also senior vice president of Houston-based Hercules Offshore Inc.

The American Petroleum Institute, the large industry trade group that includes major deepwater operators, on Monday slammed Interior’s decision to end exemptions for deepwater projects.