It's worse than a hurricane or an oil spill. This one's intentional and man-made, done with the stroke of a pen. It will cripple our region.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters this afternoon that the Obama Administration is ordering a moratorium on all off-shore oil and gas drilling activity from floating drilling rigs until the President’s commission on the BP incident has completed a more thorough review. At the same time, he said his agency is working to strengthen safety and oversight measures for deep water oil and gas exploration. The moratorium applies to wells in waters above a depth of 500 feet, including 33 deep water rigs that had been permitted in the Gulf of Mexico. Wells that have already started drilling are required to halt operations at the first safe stopping point and then take steps to secure the well.
That's going to have a deep, sudden impact of the loss of 33,000 good-paying jobs across the Gulf South.
Not within months or even weeks, but starting immediately.
Each of these rigs has a contingent of workers similar to the Deepwater Horizon. There were roughly 125 on board, each worker working 14 days on, 14 off. That's 250 directly employed on the rig. These workers live, not only in Louisiana, but in Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma, too.
Then there are the crew boats, supply boats, helicopters, survey boats, dock crews, and shore support for the rig. You can easily double the number of jobs in direct support.
A good many of the hands on board worked for service companies like Halliburton, Schlumberger, Oceaneering, and many, many other specialized suppliers. They keep large contingents of workers on call who may be shore-based, but whose jobs depend on the deepwater activity.
It's not a stretch to say that 1,000 jobs depend on each deepwater rig directly. I'm not counting the indirect effect of these healthy salaries cascading through the economy. If the multiplier is 3, that's 100,000 jobs.
The thing about deepwater rigs: many of them are owned by foreign-based companies (like Transocean). Rigs are mobile and can be moved to foreign markets. Once they leave it will be difficult to get them back.
Please call or write your Congressman and Senators and ask them to consider the long-term devastating impact that this short sighted decision will have on an already-struggling region.