Washington opens the valves in the offshore drilling

Oil platforms offshore in the early morning of June 18, 2016 at the Sherpa Fire, near Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by DAVID MCNEW. AFP)

The administration Trump announced Thursday his intention to open almost all of the nearshore waters of the United States to the exploitation of the offshore oil and gas exploration, including off the coast of California, Florida and the Arctic.

This measure would be on the provisions of the environmental protection taken by Barack Obama, the democratic predecessor of Donald Trump came to power a year ago.

The decision, which would apply from 2019 under a new five-year programme of management of marine resources in energy, 90% of coastal waters in the u.s. that are home to 98% of the resources yet untapped oil and gas located in the federal domain, according to the administration.

The us authorities are planning to pay 47 permissions of drilling on the five-year period, said the minister of natural Resources Ryan Zinke during a conference call, noting that the current provisions do not allow the operation in 6% of the relevant maritime areas.

Out of the 47 licenses, 19 would be granted off the coast of Alaska, 7 on the Pacific, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and 9 in the Atlantic.

“Scaling up of access to marine reserves further is going to allow Us to better know where the potentialities of production, and where capital should be invested,” responded the Association of independent producers of petroleum products of american (IPAA) in a press release.

But this measure was immediately denounced by organizations in defense of the environment.

“The expansion of drilling offshore meets a strong opposition from representatives of the two parties (republican and democrat) of the coastal communities as well as governors from States such as New Jersey, North Carolina and of the South, Virginia and Florida,” said the Sierra Club, one of these major organizations.

“Rather than listen to the people they are supposed to serve, Trump and Zinke listen to the industrialists who financed their campaign and make their administration”, has accused the NGO.

– ‘America first’ –

In support, the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, a republican like Donald Trump, reiterated its opposition to measures to expand offshore drilling in his State.

“I immediately asked to meet with the secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns raised by this project and the need to remove Florida from the list,” he said in a press release.

“We’re going to listen to the opinions of all parties concerned,” assured Mr. Zinke, adding: “Florida will definitely have its say.”

The department of natural Resources said on Thursday that 155 american congressmen had sent to Mr. Zinke letters encouraging the opening of new marine areas to exploration for oil and gas.

He did return to this project in the framework of the agenda “America first” president Trump. “There is a clear difference between weakness and domination in terms of energy”,-he said. “With president Trump, we will be the super-power of the most high because we can afford it”, added the minister.

This measure comes at a time when u.s. production of crude oil, boosted by new technologies of exploitation of oil shale, is significantly on the rise since 2011.

After a slight downturn when the price of oil had fallen below $ 30, which extractions are apportioned to the increase in the fall of 2016 and are now over 9.7 million barrels per day, or nearly half of the consumption of the country.

The us administration had already announced before Christmas prepare for the easing of some rules of safety that apply to offshore platforms taken after the explosion in 2010 the oil rig DeepWater Horizon, operated by BP (LON:BP) in the gulf of Mexico. The tragedy had killed 11 people and caused an oil spill on 180.000 square kilometres. The disaster has cost it $ 61.6 billion to the british oil company.

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