Ensco Wins Round in Federal Court
In the case of Ensco Offshore versus Kenneth Lee Salazar, the United States District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana granted the plaintiffs' motion on Count IV that "challenges the government's unreasonable delays in its processing of nine deepwater permit applications" that impact Ensco's rigs.
Recall that back in February the Court issued a preliminary injunction against the Department of Interior/BOEMRE, which is currently under appeal. Salazar and the BOEMRE have maintained that no time constraints apply to the government and that only the agency itself can decide what is reasonable.
Tuesday's 16-page ruling denies the government's cross-motions related to Count IV and finds that "the government has presented no credible assurances that the permitting process will return to a one marked by predictability and certainty."
Also in the ruling, the Court recognizes that a summary judgment is appropriate, that the facts of the case are not moot, that the violations of conduct by the U.S. could recur, and that Ensco has standing (i.e. injury in fact, causation, and redressability). On these foundations, the Court found the merits of the case on Count IV, as addressed by Section 706 (1) of the Administrative Procedure Act, require the court to "compel agency action unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed." As such the court orders the U.S. government to act on the six pending permit applications (see details below) within thirty days of the Order.
At the heart of this case, the Court is not telling the government what decisions to make regarding permitting, just that the government has stalled too long and must make its decision known whether it will grant or it will deny the permits in question.
Permit Applications Still Pending:
Cobalt International Energy GC 814 Well No. 1 (using ENSCO 8503), originally submitted April 30, 2010.
Cobalt International Energy GB 959 Well No. 1 (using ENSCO 8503), originally submitted November 3, 2010.
Nexen GC 504 Well No. 1 (using ENSCO 8502), originally submitted July 26, 2010.
Nexen GC 327 Well No. 1 (using ENSCO 8501), originally submitted October 12, 2010.
Nexen GC 872 Well No. 1 (using ENSCO 8501), originally submitted October 12, 2010.
Noble Energy GC 723 Well No. 1 (using ENSCO 8501), originally submitted October 26, 2010.