Examiner Editorial: Drilling ban will devastate Louisiana’s economy 

It will be years before Louisiana totes up all of the terrible effects of Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. But the damage Louisianans will suffer if a federal court approves President Barack Obama’s six-month offshore drilling moratorium could be much worse.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., estimates that as many as 38,000 jobs will be lost in the first four months alone, with more than 12,000 of those disappearing in just two parishes: Lafayette and St. Martin.

Other estimates of jobs that will become casualties of the Obama moratorium are even higher. The National Ocean Industries Association estimates that “for each platform idled by the work stoppage, up to 1,400 jobs are at risk, and lost wages could reach $10 million per month per platform and up to $330 million per month for all 33 platforms.” Thus, a six-month ban on drilling would mean nearly $2 billion in lost wages and nearly 50,000 lost jobs.

The economic havoc would not be limited to lost jobs and wages in the oil industry, though. As Raymond James and Associates explained, the devastation in Louisiana and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast would be comparable to that seen in Michigan when automakers hit hard times: “Just as the demise of auto plants and steel mills in the Upper Midwest devastated entire towns, an extended drilling ban could eventually have a similar effect in the Gulf Coast.”

Obama administration officials talk about the moratorium as extending only six months, but the reality is that recovery from its doleful effects will take years. Most immediately, the companies that own the floating deep-water drilling rigs that will be idled won’t have to keep them idle for long because there’s a big demand for rigs in Brazil, Indonesia and the Middle East.

Since it costs a half-million dollars a day to operate a rig, their services are typically provided under long-term agreements, so it would be years before Gulf of Mexico operations would resume at anywhere near the preban pace. One such rig was leased to Egypt last week, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Perhaps worst of all, however, is the blow the Obama ban would inflict on efforts to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. As Raymond James and Associates noted, “In addition to job losses and GDP reduction, the deep-water moratorium will — by definition — reduce domestic oil production and therefore make the country more dependent upon imported oil.”

With more foreign oil coming here, odds are more oil spills will occur in U.S. waters because tankers have a far worse environmental safety record than drilling rigs, according to the International Association of Drilling Contractors.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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