Shutdown could affect GOM

Over the past week, the government shutdown has steadily crept into more sectors of the oil and gas industry.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) shuttered today, sending a message to subscribers at 1 pm ET that it would furlough its staff and discontinue all website updates and data notifications. The agency will still be collecting reports to allow for continuity of data and is asking respondents to still prepare them as usual.

The EIA was able to stay online longer due to the amount of reserve funds. Other agencies that the oil and gas industries rely on, such as the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE); the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) shut down immediately or within days, with their websites taken offline as well.

On September 26, the Department of Interior released a statement saying that BSEE would continue about “53% of its functions with 403 employees reporting for full time duty” through non-appropriated funds. The agency would still review and process applications for drilling and other offshore permits. The BOEM would conduct only “four excepted functions including support for BSEE permitting operations, emergency response, administrative services, and personnel function.”

On Thursday, the 10th day of the shutdown, former US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (pictured) said that the shutdown will harm production in the Gulf of Mexico. It should be noted that the Department of the Interior is still issuing permits for drilling, although the BOEM is no longer reviewing exploration plans for well drilling.

“The continued shutdown of the federal government will ultimately affect the government approval of activities in the Gulf of Mexico,” Salazar said to reporters on the call. With “the contribution the Gulf is making to the energy future of the United States . . . it’s not the kind of rollback we ought to have.”

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