Gulf of Mexico rig count growing

09 14, 2012 by UPI

The rig count in U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico should, by the end of the year, pass the level posted before the 2010 moratorium, an analysis says.

A moratorium on deep-water drilling was enacted after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A drilling permit report for September from Barclays Capital says the rig count should reach pre-moratorium levels by the end of the year.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management last month issued 25 permits for floating rigs, compared to the 37 issued in June.

"Despite the dip in permits ... we believe permit activity in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico remains healthy and suggest a continued improvement in the permitting process, which was stifled following the moratorium, and indicates the floating rig count is set to increase further as more deep-water rigs migrate to the region," energy reporting website Rigzone says, citing the report.

Critics of U.S. President Barack Obama say his administration is blocking offshore access. A 5-year plan by the U.S. Interior Department calls for 12 lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and three off the coast of Alaska. The U.S. government estimates more than 67 billion barrels of oil and 306 trillion cubic feet of gas are potentially available in the proposed lease areas.