Oil and gas officials predict severe impact from drilling ban

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA. (KPLC) - The president has banned all new deepwater drilling in the wake of the spill. That's being met with criticism from the oil and gas industry.

In fact, one industry insider likened it to shutting down I-10 indefinitely after just one accident.. The industry spokesman predicts severe and long lasting effects if a moratorium is kept in place.

Officials with Louisiana Mid Continent Oil and Gas Association say the president's order halting work on 33 exploratory wells in the deepwater gulf will eventually affect every person in the State of Louisiana.

Spokeman Larry Wall says it's a serious threat to the state's economy. "Already some companies have announced they might be leaving the gulf. And more will probably follow if this is not taken care of soon."

Wall says 800 to 1400 jobs per idle rig platform are at risk which creates a huge potential for lost wages-- more than five to ten million dollars per per platform per month. In addition to short term effects from millions of dollars in lost wages and he says there could be severe long term effects. "Those rigs rent from a quarter million dollars to a half million dollars per day. Companies are not going to pay to have those rigs sit there idle. They might want to move those rigs elsewhere like West Africa. If they move that far it will be two years or more before they come back, before they can come back, assuming we're drilling by then."

And he says the domino effect will be felt throughout the state. "In Calcasieu there are many service companies that service offshore industry. If they service the drilling rigs, caterers or anything like that, they're going to be impacted. They're not going to have any business."

Wall says the administration should move ahead with whatever action is deemed necessary but minimize the time during which the gulf is at a standstill.

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