Factbox: Some differences in new US drilling moratorium

HOUSTON/LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – The U.S. Interior Department issued its new offshore drilling moratorium that it hopes will help it get around a federal court decision that blocked the government’s initial drilling ban imposed in response to the BP oil spill.

The new ban employs different language and gives different justifications from the old ban but suspends activity on the same set of deepwater drilling rigs as the previous order.

Here are some key details of the new moratorium.

* The new drilling ban will last until November 30, but it could be lifted sooner if Interior Secretary Ken Salazar determines that oil companies have improved safety at their operations.

* The first moratorium prevented exploratory drilling in waters more than 500 feet deep. The department said the new drilling ban was not based on water depths, but suspends offshore activities on the basis of “the drilling configurations and technologies.” However the same rigs, about 21, are affected as another 12 were previously allowed to continue operations.

* The moratorium is based on new safety concerns, blowout containment shortcomings and the lack of available skimmers and other cleanup equipment. The agency said companies would not be able to respond to a new oil spill because most of those resources are being used to clean up the BP spill.

* The Interior Department will gather and analyze information from the public, experts, stakeholders and the industry that could possibly allow certain deepwater drilling activities to resume.

* The six-month moratorium will allow a special presidential commission to investigate the oil spill and allow the Interior Department to develop interim safety rules for offshore drilling.

* The revised moratorium applies to drilling operations that use subsea blowout preventers or surface BOPs on floating facilities.

* Offshore platforms producing oil would be allowed to continue to operate under the revised drilling ban.

(Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)

Factbox: Some differences in new US drilling moratorium