Nearly a year after the administration first halted oil drilling activity in the Gulf of Mexico, stories of economic hardship still surface, all with the same theme: The slow pace of permitting punishes all those whose livelihood depends on the oil and gas industry — even those who had nothing to do with the spill and whose safety records are impeccable.
Fergus Hodgson of the Louisiana-based Pelican Institute for Public Policy reports just such a story today. Writing in The Pelican Post, Hodgson profiles Cliffe Laborde, who, as the owner of the supply vessel company Laborde Marine, has felt the “permitorium” pinch firsthand. Even though the drilling moratorium has long been officially over, more than two-thirds of Gulf of Mexico deepwater rigs remain idle and, as a result, Laborde Marine’s service rates have fallen to less than half their prior levels.
“It’s resulted in a lot of sleepless nights,” Laborde said in an interview with Hodgson.
Despite the difficulty, Laborde Marine has retained its approximately 200 employees, but, as Hodgson points out, that doesn’t mean they have sufficient work to do.
Laborde has much in common with businesswoman Leslie Bertucci, who we featured in a video to mark the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Bertucci owns R and D Enterprises, which supplies equipment to transport chemicals to and from deepwater rigs. Like Laborde, Bertucci has faced a steep decline in revenue, yet has chosen to retain her employees.
Unfortunately, the ongoing hardships of people like Laborde and Bertucci have lately been largely overlooked.
“To rub salt into the wound, President Obama has made misleading statements and concealed the industry’s bottlenecked activity,” Hodgson writes. “This unofficial permitorium, without a timeframe, has created an unpredictable process. And the suspension of lease sales until 2012 means the long-run outlook is just as grim.”