Shutdown Pares Interior Dept’s Work On Offshore Drilling To Essential Functions

Offshore oil and natural gas companies are expressing concern about the effects of a prolonged government shutdown.


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Offshore oil and gas activities are regulated by two agencies at the U.S. Department of the Interior. The government shutdown has put half the workers at each agency on furlough. The remaining workers will focus on activities deemed “essential” — such as inspections and permit applications for drilling already underway.

Jim Noe is executive vice president of Houston-based Hercules Offshore.

“We’re hoping this shutdown doesn’t go on for too long, since the situation may get a bit more difficult in terms of its effect on leasing activities, review of exploration and production plans, and environmental studies, all of which the regulator has said will be delayed as a result of the shutdown.”

The shutdown has also resulted in nearly all the employees at the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management being placed on furlough. That’s resulted in a complete halt on permitting of oil and gas leases on federal lands. Most of the onshore drilling in Texas takes place on state or private lands.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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