Shallow-water oil and gas drilling is down approximately 73 percent from last year, based on an analysis by the Associated Press. The AP reports that new drilling rules, in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill, have slowed shallow water drilling to a near standstill. The Obama administration has also enacted a moratorium on deepwater drilling — drilling in water depths greater than 500 feet — while it studies further regulations that may be needed for deep sea exploration.

The AP's research shows that just four out of 10 shallow-water drilling applications have been approved from June through August while 15 applications were sought and approved in the same period last year. In 2007 and 2008, with higher energy prices, shallow water drilling was even more robust, with drillers seeking an average of 19 permits a month. From the AP:
Environmental groups are encouraged by the trend. But drilling executives say the new rules, which require them to produce detailed spill-response plans and estimates for worst-case scenarios, are adding millions of dollars in costs and causing delays that have led to layoffs. Executives worry that when the Obama administration lifts the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling, where the risks are greater, the permitting process will be even slower.

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