Gulf Helo Ops in Limbo, Despite Drill Ban Ruling
Federal officials said they would move quickly to circumvent and appeal a U.S. District Judge’s injunction Tuesday to overturn the Obama Administration’s six-month ban on new deepwater offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Under the ban, which was imposed shortly after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion, the Interior Department stopped issuing new drilling permits and halted drilling at 33 exploratory wells. Gulf oil and support industries say the ban has cost them untold millions so far and idled thousands of workers. It has adversely affected offshore helicopter companies in Louisiana and surrounding states that rely on these activities. The lawsuit against the ban was brought by Hornbeck Offshore Services and backed by Louisiana officials and the oil companies. New Orleans U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman ruled that the ban was “an invalid agency decision” that the Interior Department “cannot justify.” Oil companies indicated they would not restart drilling operations while the litigation continues.