Tx. Congressmen, Drilling Industry Pledge Support to Fight Drilling Ban

Texas Congressmen Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, and Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, promised to fight the Gulf of Mexico drilling moratorium, rallying nearly 300 at a July 7 town hall meeting called by the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC).

IADC 2010 Chairman Louis Raspino, Pride International, noted, "The small businesses that hold the big players together can't afford six months of no revenue. In a very short period of time, we're going to see this industry implode."

The Congressmen warned not to rely on leadership, but to get involved individually and to educate others.

"The energy industry has been demonized for years. It's not just because people don't understand it. It's because there's no political price for damaging your industry," Cong. Brady said. "They don't see energy workers – they just see energy executives. So they feel free to undercut the two million workers in this industry because they don't think they have any energy workers in their districts."

Cong. Olson noted that the drilling moratorium will not make deepwater drilling safer, yet will damage the US economy. He warned of a bill in the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee that would increase the $75 million liability limit on offshore facilities. Cong. Brady has proposed an alternative that would consider the risks of each rig separately.

"I'm committed to making sure that we have a bill that does not kill more jobs or harm the industry even further," Olson said.

IADC recently formed the Deepwater Coalition to work with Congressional members to help them understand industry actions to improve safety and the dire economic implications of a deepwater drilling moratorium.

Technical experts described their involvement with the government's safety recommendations. Both Moe Plaisance, Diamond Offshore, and Tom Williams, Nautilus International, felt their work on separate committees had been misused to support a moratorium when that was not what their groups had recommended.

Plaisance led a group under the Joint Industry Task Force formed by IADC and the American Petroleum Institute to provide recommendations to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on how existing equipment could be used to improve offshore safety.