GPI+ — Gulf Permit Index — as of November 22

Shallow-water permit issuance levels on the rise, deep-water permit issuance and all plan approval rates in Gulf still lag historic levels 

NEW ORLEANS — Today, Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) and several partnering organizations released the twenty-third Gulf Permit Index (GPI) to the public. This edition, the third GPI+, includes data on 2011 plan approvals by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE), in addition to the information on deep- and shallow-water permit issuance included in all previous editions.

The GPI+ shows that the rates of issuance for new deep-water well permits continue to lag historical averages, while issuance levels for new shallow-water permits are on the rise.

Deep-water permit issuance continues to lag the monthly average observed in the year prior to the oil spill. Only 5.0 deep-water permits are being issued per month since September 2011, representing a 0.8-permit — or a 14% — monthly reduction from the average of 5.8 permits per month. This number also represents a 2.0-permit — or a 29% — reduction from the historical average of 7.0 permits per month over the past three years.

Shallow-water permit issuance is rising above the historical average. Since September 2011, 8.3 shallow-water permits, on average, were issued. That number represents an increase of 1.2 permits — or 31% — from the monthly average of 7.1 permits per month observed in the year prior to the oil spill. However, this number represents a 6.4-permit — or a 44% — reduction from the historical average of 14.7 permits per month over the past three years.

The GPI+ also shows a sharp increase in the average number of days taken to approve plans and a significant decrease in the percentage of plans being approved, compared with the number of plans submitted to BOEMRE.

In 2011, the average approval time for a plan is 115 days, compared to the historical average of 61 days. All deep-water plans that include any type of drilling activity must now undergo an environmental assessment (EA) process; for those plans requiring EAs in 2011, the average approval time is 222 days, significantly higher than the overall average approval time. Additionally, in 2011, 35% of plans submitted to BOEMRE are being approved, compared to the historical 73.4% approval rate.

Charts tracking approved new permits for deep- and shallow-water drilling are below. In addition, charts detailing the changes in average approval time and in percentage of approvals for plans can be found below. Raw data on number of permits issued and plans approved is taken from the BOEMRE website. Research and analysis was performed by GNO, Inc. staff members.

GNO, Inc. will continue to monitor permits and plans being reviewed by BOEMRE. The organization will report on its findings every two weeks with updated GPI+ reports. The GPI+ is provided by GNO, Inc. and its parish partners in collaboration with the Business Council of New Orleans & the River Region, Jefferson Business Council, and Northshore Business Council.