A report submitted by the US Department of Defence (DOD) to two Congressional committees says that planned major expansion of oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico should not go ahead without new rules and conditions being implemented first, according to Reuters.
The administration of President Donald Trump has declared its intention to hugely expand offshore drilling – exploration and production – in all federal coastal waters.
But the eastern Gulf is of particular sensitivity for the DOD because that is an area where the military conducts a lot of its cutting-edge training and testing, including use of laser weapons, long-range strike weapons and mine warfare.
DOD’s report said the area is irreplaceable and expanded oil and gas drilling there should be allowed only if it would not disturb military operations.
Military flexibility could be lost and training activities compromised unless restrictions are agreed on any new drilling.
DOD has been in talks with the Department of the Interior (DOI) for months to find mutually acceptable terms and conditions whereby some expanded drilling could co-exist with continued military training.
Drilling companies have long seen the eastern Gulf as their best prospect. Some oil sector companies have interpreted the report positively, saying it leaves the door open for compromises to be found.