Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle and members of the Back to Work Coalition are meeting Friday with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Michael Bromwich and his staff in Washington, D.C. to work through the permitting and regulatory issues faced by the exploration industry in the Gulf of Mexico.

Angelle is the state’s liaison between the offshore oil and gas industry and the federal government. Through the establishment of the Back to Work Coalition, a group of industry representatives facilitated by the Gulf Economic Survival Team, Angelle is presenting a unified voice to Bromwich and BOEM officials and hopes to create a clearer roadmap that will resume Gulf of Mexico exploration.

Friday’s meeting with BOEM is the third in two weeks, Angelle says, and “should bring meaningful dialogue to the permitting situation and be another step toward a clearer understanding of BOEM’s requirements. It’s all hands on deck, and we are hopeful that BOEM will respond favorably to our recent requests to revise the Interim Final Drilling Safety Rule in order to provide an enforceable mechanism for ensuring that operators are incorporating the most appropriate safety practices to their drilling activities.”

Despite the Oct. 12 lifting of the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico’s federal waters, permitting for new exploration and production is at a standstill, with only two new permits issued that were not subject to the moratorium.

“Friday’s meeting will focus on the top three obstacles that are hindering the industry’s ability to comply with permitting requirements,” says Angelle. “Following a resolution on these items, we look forward to seeing the rate of permits issued increase, followed by the restoration of the industry in the Gulf of Mexico and the thousands of jobs it supports along the coast.”

According to Angelle, the three top issues include timely completion of newly required environmental assessments conducted by the federal government; clarification on requirements for industry’s Oil Spill Response Plans, incorporating the progress being made by the Marine Well Containment Company and by Helix Energy Solutions Group; and a revision of the recently released Interim Final Drilling Safety rule.

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