WSJ: experts: moratorium, more economically devastating than the oil spill itself and "counterproductive" to "safety."



The drilling experts speak out on the Obama deepwater moratorium.

When President Obama last month announced his six-month deepwater moratorium, he pointed to an Interior Department report of new “safety” recommendations. That report prominently noted that the recommendations it contained—including the six-month drilling ban—had been “peer-reviewed” by “experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.” It also boasted that Interior “consulted with a wide range” of other experts. The clear implication was that the nation’s drilling brain trust agreed a moratorium was necessary.

As these columns reported last week, the opposite is true. In a scathing document, eight of the “experts” the Administration listed in its report said their names had been “used” to “justify” a “political decision.” The draft they reviewed had not included a six-month drilling moratorium. The Administration added that provision only after it had secured sign-off. In their document, the eight forcefully rejected a moratorium, which they argued could prove more economically devastating than the oil spill itself and “counterproductive” to “safety.”

We decided to call some of these experts ourselves. Their information, and concerns, are revealing.

The experts were certainly under the impression they were reviewing a comprehensive document, as some of the recommendations would take six months or even a year to implement. And the report they agreed to did address moratoria: It recommended a six-month ban on new deepwater permits. Yet Benton Baugh, president of Radoil, said that in at least two separate hour-and-a-half phone calls among Interior and the experts, there was no discussion of a moratorium on existing drilling. “Because if anybody had [made that suggestion], we’d have said ‘that’s craziness.’”

Ken Arnold, an engineer and consultant, said the changes went beyond just the drilling moratorium. The Interior draft he looked at included timelines for each safety recommendation. The “bulk” of those recommendations, he explained, were all ones that could be done within 30 days. And most of the longer-term provisions would result in only “marginal increases in safety.”

Yet when the final report came out, the timelines he saw had been removed, no doubt because they argued against the necessity of a six-month moratorium. Mr. Arnold adds that the Administration’s decision to allow industry to continue drilling “gas injection wells”—which, he says, are no more risky than production wells—only shows the moratorium makes “no sense.”

“This was a political call; this was not a technical call,” says Mr. Arnold. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has since testified that the call was his. But Robert Bea, from the University of California at Berkeley, who also reviewed the report, told us Interior had sent him a letter that “stated clearly that [the moratorium] had been inserted at the request of the White House.” Mr. Bea pointed out that the Department of Interior is more than equipped to target and shut down specific Gulf operations that might offer safety concerns. There was no call for a moratorium “for industry as a whole.”

Ford Brett, managing director of Petroskills and also a reviewer, notes that the experts first went to the Interior Department with their concerns. “All they had to do was put out another press release—one sentence long—clarifying that we hadn’t reviewed the drilling moratorium. . . .That didn’t happen.” Only then did the experts go public.

Several reviewers said they had, in fact, received “apology” notes from the Interior Department acknowledging the misrepresentation. “We did not mean to imply that you also agreed with the decision to impose a moratorium on all new deepwater drilling,” read one.

All of this matters because it offers proof the moratorium was driven by politics, not safety. The drilling ban was not reviewed by experts, and was not necessary to satisfy most of the safety recommendations in Mr. Salazar’s report. It was authored by political actors so Mr. Obama could look tough. A cynic might argue the ban was only added after review precisely because the Administration knew experts would refuse to endorse it.

A big reason why those experts would have balked is because they recognize that the moratorium is indeed a threat to safety. Mr. Arnold offers at least four reasons why.

The ban requires oil companies to abandon uncompleted wells. The process of discontinuing a well, and then later re-entering it, introduces unnecessary risk. He notes BP was in the process of abandoning its well when the blowout happened.

The ban is going to push drilling rigs to take jobs in other countries. “The ones that go first will be the newest, biggest, safest rigs, because they are most in demand. The ones that go last and come back first are the ones that aren’t as modern,” says Mr. Arnold.

The indeterminate nature of this ban will encourage experienced crew members to seek other lines of work—perhaps permanently. Restarting after a ban will bring with it a “greater mix of new people who will need to be trained.” The BP event is already pointing, in part, to human error, and the risk of that will increase with a less experienced crew base. Finally, a ban will result in more oil being imported on tankers, which are “more likely” to spill oil than local production.

All this is even before raising ban’s economic consequences, which already threaten tens of thousands of jobs. This is why Louisiana politicians are now pleading with the Administration to back off a ban that is sending the Gulf’s biggest industry to its grave.

Further proof that this Chicago Community Organizer with a law degree, is in way over his head and simply does not have the skills to do the job.

We all had hope, but he has let the entire country down at this point.:blush:

This is of no surprise since Obama has no one on his cabinet and very few in his administation that have worked outside of the Public Sector. Obama foolishly thinks if he can get BP to pay the salaries of those laid off for the next 6 months there will be no harm. However as those of us who are familar with the industry know the rigs are already being shut down and being readied to ship to Africa, South American and other more friendly waters. So when the moratorium is over there will be no place for these workers to go-and it will take years to get the rigs back.


Maybe he’s taking orders from his buddy he sent money to for drilling down in S. America. You know, George Soros. He’s either too stupid to know what he’s doing or trying to outsmart everyone. Who knows.

Ahh… about that hope part, not all of us were that nieve. Destroying the oil industry is a goal not a by-product of his policies.
Peace, Tom

As an engineer, if I were one of those 8 “experts” I’d be mad as hell! To have my professional opinion twisted like that would absolutely set me off.

The employment impact in the Gulf will be destructive to say the least. Every welder, forklift operator, 2-way radio tech, etc…the industry touches scores of other industries all across the country. So many industries will be hurt. And that means more unemployment.

I know it’s uncharitable but we have idiots in charge, they have absolutely no working knowledge of the issues in front of them. The hurt they are inflicting is real. They are not builders, they are destroyers.

I just read an article tonight on how the Coast Guard “skimming” barges were shut down for “fire extinguisher” inspection or some such nonsense. Gov Jindal was absolutely ticked off about that. I was not born yesterday, an emergency operation does not need to be completely shutdown like that, regardless of any OSHA or whatever agency regulation. The inspection just “happened” to expire this week? C’mon!

That’s the Peter Principle working for you. :slight_smile:

Yes, but look at the bright side. The world now thinks there is too much oil and the price has come down now to reflect that. At least temporarily.:slight_smile:

Crude’s at 77 dollars a barrel right now. It had been hovering around 70 for a while there so it’s actually up a tad bit.

The Peter Principle is absolutely being displayed by this administration. The level of incompetence is truly amazing, yet I’m sure in the days to come I will yet again be stunned. I truly don’t think we’ve seen the end of the incompetence.

FWIW - I’ve worked in the alternative “green” energy industry (and i use the word industry loosely) for 11yrs plus. I say this with sincerity and not malice; it is very interestign work, and some aspects do have merit. It does have merit to do research and development, because many other technologies come of it (much like the space program over the decades).

But…! And i say this also without malice…the technologies are still many DECADES away from being anything practical. I honestly don’t beleive we will see any of the technologies I work with (fuel cells, H2) being deployed successfully by the time I retire (25yrs hopefully!). Many other technologies still cannot satisfy current reliability and power demands.

There has to be “bridge technologies” to transition to “alternatives”. Natural gas being one of them. But then again, natural gas is…fossil fuel…and how do we get it? We need to DRILL for it.

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I had to put my 2 cents in terms of the alternatives. The plain and simple truth is that we still need oil (and other fossil fuels). Simply saying we need to use something else is foolish without understand the realities involved.

But why would Obama et al, at this stage in the game, acknowledge reality? An arrogant college professor and a bunch of spoiled brat frat boys are running our nation now, drunk with power. They are too inexperienced, and too destructive to be handed this kind of responsibility. They are too immature to understand that their actions will result in real hardships in average citizens. Many who in fact voted for this crew.

I’m still bewildered that people who I thought were rational and clear thinking, actually voted for this.

sorry for my rant…

Like Newt said yesterday, under his control, something is thrown at the leak-and a week later, something else is tried. They oughta be going at it with both barrels-throwing everything they can at once. Or, close to.

The rejection of the help of 13 Countries at the onset! Such pride!

With the moratorium, like Glenn Beck said yesterday, companies will take the rigs-and go elsewhere. And, they won’t come back.

“Hope and Change you can believe in.”


God Bless.
+Jesus, I Trust In You!
Love, Dawn

Would boggles my mind is that even after he has shown to be so inept he still has a 42% approval rating, how is that even possible?

Because there are some - even on this board - who are willing to excuse his every misstep, indecision, and flagrant foul because of their own political ideology. Or they beat the old drum, “Blame Bush. Blame Bush.”

And there are some who still think it’s going to “be just like Christmas” under Obama.

The rest of us just see Change we’ll be forced to believe in with no Hope in sight.

Article from IBD:

It’s a little different. The Peter Principle says that, in a bureaucracy, a person rises to the level of his incompetence, then remains there. But here we are seeing people appointed to the level of their incompetence, right from the outset.

I don’t know. When Obama gets on national TV about the oil spill and spends a significant amount of his time trying to sell cap and trade, one has to wonder whether this isn’t one more crisis they don’t want to “go to waste”. Ineptness it may be. Perhaps vanity. But it just could be that those who want energy prices to increase significantly, and those who think somehow that all fossil fuel useage needs to end, don’t think of this crisis as unuseful and don’t especially want it ended quickly and efficiently.

Now that public alarm over “global warming” has been fading; perhaps due to the frauds involved in its underpinnings, an oil-drenched gulf might be just exactly what a segment of the population (and politicians) see as resurrecting their vision of seeing most of us freeze in the dark.

Governor Jindal spoke out forcefully yesterday at a rally against the moratorium.

The moratorium would destroy the economy of the Gulf states.

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