Governor Parnell Advocates for Lifting Offshore Drilling Moratorium
August 26, 2010, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sean Parnell advocated today for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling in Alaska waters. The agency held a listening session in Anchorage to collect information and views about deepwater drilling safety reforms, well containment, and oil spill response.
In comments submitted to Director Michael Bromwich, Governor Parnell noted the operating conditions in the relatively shallow waters of Alaska's Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) are categorically different from those encountered in the extreme deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
"Drilling in an Arctic climate holds unique challenges but offers distinct advantages compared to what is needed for deepwater offshore oil and gas exploration and development," according to Governor Parnell. "There are also differences between state and federal oversight and regulatory frameworks, as well as fundamental contrasts in the geology of the regions, all of which merit consideration while making policy decisions."
The governor also said concerns regarding blowout prevention are very important. "Alaska has a long and proud record of safe oil and gas drilling," Governor Parnell said. "In large part, this is because of a regulatory framework based on an extensive and specialized knowledge of the Alaska drilling environment and the proactive assistance provided by regulators to explorers and developers to manage risk."
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Larry Hartig testified at the Anchorage meeting.
"Alaska's OCS is an important part of our nation's energy future," Commissioner Hartig said. "Alaska is committed to responsible development of the oil and gas potential of our state. As tragic as the events in the Gulf are, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement must assess the risks and opportunities in Alaska based on conditions and resources present here. We believe this assessment should lead to the conclusion the processes and safeguards are in place to allow leasing and exploration activity to resume on the Alaska OCS."
A copy of Governor Parnell's letter to Director Bromwich is available at: