Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rigzone: Obama Orders Expansion of Oil Drilling

Nine months after the end of the nation's worst oil spill, President Obama is ordering the Interior Department to expand drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, hold annual lease sales in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve and speed up geological research of exploration prospects off the south and mid Atlantic coasts.

The moves, announced in the president's Saturday radio address, are not so much a reversal as a return to the policy stance Obama adopted in March 2010, shortly before the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in flames and BP's Macondo well began gushing millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

In his four minute address, Obama touched on the hardship caused by $4 a gallon gasoline, but made no mention of last year's spill, an environmental disaster that temporarily derailed new wells and set off political sparring over drilling permits that Republicans and oil executives say have been needlessly delayed.

Instead, the president said he would increase access to the Alaskan reserve, an area four times the size of New Jersey. He said that he was also ordering Interior to hold a Gulf of Mexico lease sale this year and two in 2012, thus completing the department's five year plan for the area. And he said that seismic work off the Atlantic coast would map out new areas for future lease sales.....Read the entire article.


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