Thursday, June 24, 2010

Not Another Gulf Coast Update: New Orleans Judge Strikes Down Moratorium.

President Obama's brilliant stratagem of screwing the pooch on Afghanistan and McChrystal to distract from his screwing the pooch on the Federal response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has worked for all of one day.

A New Orleans federal judge struck down President Obama's 6-month moratorium on offshore drilling on Tuesday. Almost immediately, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said he would issue a new ban on offshore drilling, claiming the new moratorium would be more detailed and justify the White House's original moratorium.

Almost as soon as the ruling was issued, some intrepid Internet gumshoes discovered the New Orleans judge who overturned the moratorium owned some $15,000 worth of shares in Transocean, LTD [NYSE: RIG] and another $15,000 in shares and notes from Hercules Offshore, Inc [NASDAQ: HERO], ATP Oil & Gas [NASDAQ: ATPG] and Parker Dilling [NYSE: PKD]. I guess this is supposed to get me worked up into some sort of spittle flecked self-righteous outrage, but if you stop and think about it, just about anybody who's invested in most 401(k), IRAs or mutual funds is invested to some degree with 'big oil'. I'd be interested in seeing the same online sleuths track down where that $787 billion in stimulus spending all went.

Meanwhile, the roughnecks and rig workers who are now out of work thanks to the moratorium are trying to find employment elsewhere. Many of the tens of thousands of idle rig workers are heading to Grand Isle and Venice, LA as part of the cleanup effort. The securities firm Raymond James estimates that as many as 50,000 jobs associated with Gulf Coast drilling and that the moratorium could last ell into 2011.

The cap capturing some of the oil gushing from the ruptured pipeline was accidentally bumped by a deep sea submersible the other day. Crews operating the submersible by remote control were able to put another cap on after 10 hours of work.

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