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Louisiana Company Says Gulf Drilling Ban Will Inflict "Irreversible" Damage on Industry

Rigs & ships will simply go to other countries.

8:35 AM, Jun 8, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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In a letter to Louisana's senators, Cliffe F. Laborde and J. Peter Laborde, Jr., who own and operate a small Louisiana-based shipping company that services oil rigs in the Gulf, argue that President Obama's decision to shut down 33 deep-water wells for six months "makes no sense and should be reversed."

"To shut down the entire industry is overkill and analogous to shutting down all commercial air traffic after one plane crash due to pilot error," they write. The Labordes note that there are 4,000 deepwater wells out of the 50,000 total wells in the Gulf, and that "MMS conducted a safety assessment of each of the deepwater rigs in the days following the blowout and found no significant problems."

The Labordes, who employ over 200 people and have a $14 million payroll, argue that many oil rig-related jobs will go away and might not ever return:

the US government is telling us to simply "park" our vessels for at least six months. Never in the history of the United States has the government decided to shut down an entire industry for six months. ...

If the moratorium on deep water drilling is not lifted, the 33 semi-submersible rigs and/or drill ships affected will simply go to other countries where they will be well received, such as Brazil, the countries of West Africa, and Southeast Asia. They will not return to the US Gulf of Mexico for years, if ever. The damage to our industry will be irreversible.

While big oil companies can send their rigs and ships overseas, the Labordes argue that small U.S. service companies, like their own, have no such luxury. They say they cannot compete overseas against ships that are subsidized by foreign governments and built at cheaper cost. "The local service companies may not be around to come back," they write.

Read the full letter here.

Also, see this report from The Atlantic's Niraj Chokshi, who argued last week that the moratorium could acutally pose a greater environmental threat as well:

The six-month ban on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico could encourage companies to move their rigs to other parts of the world, increasing the nation's reliance on imported oil. But it would also increase our reliance on long-distance shipping to bring that oil to the U.S. and increase the probability of oil being spilled at sea. Over the last half-century, transport vessels have been responsible for almost two-thirds of all marine oil spills, according to data arranged by Tulane University professors.

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