Department of Defense Cautions Against Offshore Drilling in Eastern Gulf, Citing Military Training Exercises in the Area

May 18, 2018

In a new report sent to several House Committees, Michael Griffin, the Department of Defense’s Undersecretary for Research and Engineering, cautioned against offshore oil and natural gas drilling in the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico. The report stated that the drilling would cause issues with Navy and Air Force military exercises being conducted in the area.

As the Department of the Interior moves forward with drafting its new five-year offshore plan at the direction of President Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has struggled to find new drilling locations unencumbered by political opposition. A large area of the Gulf has been blocked for drilling by Congress until 2022, however in his plan for developing the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) released in January, the President considered the possibility of allowing companies to lease drilling rights in the area in 2023 and 2024. This announcement received significant negative feedback from Florida lawmakers, leading Zinke to rescind it. He repeated this pledge in a recent subcommittee hearing, promising “…no new oil and gas platforms off the coast of Florida.”

While many lawmakers want to keep the area free of drilling, The Hill reports that many drillers have long had their eye on the eastern Gulf. This latest report has been construed by some as leaving the door open for potential opportunities in the future. Randall Luthi, National Offshore Industries Association President said, “The report shows there is a lot of ocean out there and while these will be devils in the details, the overall message from the Pentagon should be interpreted as cooperation and coordination.”

For further information on the National OCS Program, click here: https://www.boem.gov/National-Program/

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