Ensco to Obama: Drilling Rules Confuse

Offshore driller Ensco claims in a new lawsuit that the federal ban on offshore drilling is just one of many flaws in the federal oil spill response.
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DALLAS (

TheStreet

) --

Ensco

(ESV)

has amended a lawsuit challenging the U.S. government federal ban on offshore drilling, and in the suit Ensco has asked the government to step up and provide a better framework for the new era of post BP oil spill drilling.

The suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans is against the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement and other defendants.

Ensco's basic premise in seeking to overturn the drilling ban, for a second time, is that the U.S. Administrative Procedures Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act does not allow for the federal offshore drilling ban as enacted.

The Ensco suit takes into account the recent implementation of a second drilling ban by the U.S. government after the U.S. District Court in New Orleans upended the Obama administration's first drilling ban.

The Ensco complaint doesn't just attack the drilling ban as an immediate loss of business that has no basis in the law, though, but claims the government process for offshore drilling still lacks definition.

The Ensco case asks that the government be required to lay out documentary and permitting requirements with respect to both shallow and deepwater drilling and related activities in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico that lack proper legislative, regulatory or procedural authorization, asking for a "more well-defined regulatory process for instituting new safety measures and operational and permitting requirements for U.S. Gulf of Mexico shallow and deep water offshore drilling."

When the drilling ban was first imposed, drilling companies complained that the guidance from the federal government lacked critical definition.

Uncertainty over the future of offshore drilling has hit the offshore drillers hard. On Monday,

Noble Corp.

(NE) - Get Report

reported the first offshore driller earnings of the season, an earnings shortfall in part caused by a loss of business in the Gulf.

Noble shares recovered quickly from the earnings dip late on Monday, and were recently trading up 4%, with a big spike in afternoon trading, as most of the oil drilling stocks moved higher in trading on Tuesday. Ensco shares were recently up 3%.

Transocean

(RIG) - Get Report

, which dropped steeply on Monday as a Transocean executive told an oil spill inquiry about a long series of problems with the Deepwater Horizon rig, was rallying with its oil drilling peers on Tuesday afternoon.

-- Written by Eric Rosenbaum from New York.

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