23 Jun 2010

New ban on drilling sought after court reversal

9:00 pm on 23 June 2010

The United States government is to issue a new order banning deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

This comes after a judge in New Orleans overturned an earlier order imposing a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling.

The ban, imposed in response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, has halted the operations of 33 offshore rigs.

In granting a request by more than a dozen oil services companies for it to be overturned, Judge Martin Feldman challenged its scope and said the firms would be likely to succeed in showing that it was arbitrary and capricious.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says however that he will issue a new order that "eliminates any doubt that a moratorium is needed, appropriate, and within our authorities". The White House will also appeal against the ruling.

The Interior Department, which oversees offshore drilling, says that, notwithstanding the ruling, the firms still have to meet new safety and environmental rules before they can resume operations.