Michele Bachmann

As the unemployment rate sits at 9.5%, American jobs are literally floating away. Two oil drilling rigs from the Gulf of Mexico recently embarked on a two month journey overseas. Diamond Offshore announced one rig is going to the Nile River delta of Egypt and the other is heading to the Republic of Congo; and their job opportunities went with them.

These rigs were sitting idle due to President Obama’s deep water drilling ban and his administration’s subsequent new moratorium, even though a federal judge struck down the first ban. Diamond Offshore could not wait for the Administration to lift the ban in six months. Instead, the company saw an opportunity for up to $234 million to be generated through drilling off the shores of Congo.

The moratorium must be reconsidered before more rigs float away to aid other country’s economies. Additionally, the rigs already existing in the U.S. need to be utilized, under the highest safely standards, to provide more jobs which our nation so desperately needs.

Other countries are benefiting from offshore drilling while the U.S. is slipping far behind, as reported today in the Investor’s Business Daily newspaper:

According to RigLogix, the U.S. offshore rig fleet of 93 rigs of different types is only being used to 38% of capacity. In the Alaskan offshore, none of the four rigs is under use. In the remaining parts of the U.S. offshore, only two of the 28 rigs are in use, a grand total of 7%.

By contrast, 148 of the North Sea's 159 rigs are under contract, for a 93% utilization rate. Off the coast of Brazil, 68 of the 79 rigs are in use, for an 86.1% utilization rate. West Africa, which includes Republic of Congo, has 67% of its 76 rigs in use. Even Mexico, much maligned for not investing and squandering opportunities, utilizes 52% of its 62 rigs.

Just as the U.S. is falling behind in exports, amounting to only 17% of GDP as the rest of the world sails by with higher numbers, the 34% rig utilization shows how badly we're falling behind offshore.

The off shore drilling moratorium must be reconsidered before more rigs float away to aid other country’s economies. The tragedy that has cost the Gulf so much already should not be exploited like this to further an out-of-touch energy policy the President and Congressional Democrats have promised. The rigs already existing in the U.S. need to be utilized to their fullest capacity and under the highest safely standards to provide more jobs which our nation so desperately needs.

It is not too late for the U.S. to be a leader in deep oil drilling and safe exploration. But, President Obama must act quickly before more oil rigs are thousands of miles away providing jobs and revenue to foreign nations.