Ensco Offshore Co. asked a judge to revive its challenge to the Obama administration’s deep-water oil drilling rules, claiming regulators are preventing rigs from returning to work even after lifting a ban in October.
“None of the work that was being done by the 33 rigs suspended when the initial moratorium was issued has been allowed to resume, no permits for previously suspended activities have been issued, and there are no indications that defendants will unfreeze the permit process in the near future,” Ensco said in a Nov. 30 court filing.
Ensco asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman of New Orleans to reinstate dismissed claims and enjoin the government from enforcing the drilling moratorium “by any means.” Ensco also asked the judge to require regulators to act within 30 days on all pending applications for permits to drill in waters deeper than 500 feet.
This week, James Noe, Hercules Offshore Inc.’s general counsel and chief compliance officer, filed sworn statements that Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Michael Bromwich told a private industry gathering on Oct. 21 that they wanted to “codify specific requirements and commitments” into a “legally enforceable mechanism” for deep- water spill containment before granting permits.
“Defendants represented to this court that such a mechanism ‘is not a precondition to the resumption of drilling,’” Ensco said in its filing. “The court took defendants at their word.”
Before the drilling ban, regulators typically processed permit applications in about two weeks, according to court papers. Regulators have ignored applications since the ban was lifted, Ensco says.