An energy research group predicted that an increase in drilling activity in the Gulf of Mexico could create 230,000 jobs and add $44 billion to the economy next year.
IHS on Thursday said that the U.S. would produce more jobs, more tax revenue and another 411,000 barrels of oil per day if the industry was allowed to operate at full speed in the Gulf. The government essentially shut down offshore drilling for several months last year after BP's massive oil spill while it put new safety regulations in place.
In February, regulators started granting drilling permits again for deepwater wells, but at a slower pace than before the spill. They say stricter guidelines now in place for permits help ensure that drillers operate safely.
Daniel Yergin, an IHS vice chairman and oil historian, said the point of the study was to show what's possible with a resurgence in Gulf drilling.
"If we continue at this very low pace, we'll have a much weaker industry and activity will be concentrated more in other countries," Yergin said.
His statement echoes the oil industry's claim that new regulations are unnecessarily slowing the pace of drilling in the Gulf and costing the U.S. jobs while contributing to high oil and gasoline prices.
A government spokeswoman wouldn't comment about the IHS report.