• Fifth Circuit Rejects Federal Government's Request to Restore Offshore Deepwater Drilling Moratorium
  • July 26, 2010
  • Law Firm: Balch Bingham LLP - Birmingham Office
  • On May 28, 2010, the Department of Interior (DOI) and the Minerals Management Service (MMS) imposed a six-month moratorium on offshore drilling operations of new and currently permitted deepwater wells. Hornbeck Offshore Services, LLC sued the Secretary of the Interior, DOI, MMS, and the Director of MMS for declaratory and injunctive relief. On June 22, a Federal District Court judge in Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction blocking the moratorium and refused to stay his order during the appeals process.

    Yesterday, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit  ruled that the Secretary of the DOI failed to demonstrate a likelihood of irreparable injury if the stay is not granted, but noted that the Secretary has the right to apply for emergency relief if drilling activity by deepwater rigs commences or is about to commence. The federal government has indicated that a new and refined moratorium may be issued as early as today.

    The court indicated that an appeal of the preliminary injunction will be argued on its merits during the last week of August.