White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters today that the deepwater drilling moratorium will likely be lifted soon, and as early as this week.
That’s earlier than the original Nov. 30 end-date for the moratorium, which bars oil and gas companies from drilling new deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico during the ongoing investigation of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent, massive oil spill.
Reuters today is also reporting that the head of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the new department which oversees drilling, will make an “imminent” announcement about the moratorium.
Last week, the Department of Interior, which oversees the BOEM, announced that new safety rules for drilling will increase costs and potentially delay new operations.
The cost increases will be relatively small, between 1 and 2 percent of total operating costs. For deepwater wells with a floating rig, the increase will be $1.72 million, according to the New York Times; for deepwater wells with a platform rig, it’ll be $170,000; for shallow-water wells, it’ll be $90,000.
It also comes in the midst of a hold, placed by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), on President Obama’s nominee to run the Office of Management and Budget. Landrieu has said she’ll lift the hold when the administration lifts the moratorium.
A call to Landrieu’s office was not immediately returned.
Late update: BOEM just announced that its director, Michael Bromwich, will hold a conference call on the moratorium this afternoon. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will also be on the call.