Offshore Moratorium Causes Onshore Layoffs

by / Louisiana Seafood News on July 6, 2010

Peter Vujnovich, a third generation oyster farmer and owner of Captain Pete’s Oysters, addresses the issues of the oystermen at a New Orleans Move Forward Now press conference.

As Americans watch the highly visible, widely televised and continuing environmental and economic devastation caused by the BP oil rig explosion, the moratorium on deep water offshore drilling is building up its own pressure that is about to erupt – costing even more American jobs.

Peter Vujnovich, a third generation oyster farmer and owner of Captain Pete’s Oysters, last shipped oysters on May 23rd, more than six weeks ago.

“Since that point I have had zero income,” reports Vujnovich, who employees two people year round in his New Orleans business and is joined in the summer by his sons and nephews that are home from college.

“Even though the oil industry and the seafood industry have conflicts, we need each other,” says Vujnovich. “I use a tremendous amount of fuel in my (seafood) farming operations and it seems senseless at this time when the economy is down and jobs are at stake to shut down such a major part of Louisiana’s income and job opportunities.”

Leslie Bertucci of R & D Enterprises, a specialty oil field equipment company, tells members of Move Forward Now her experience with the Gulf crisis.

Vujnovich is worried about the long term consequences on the moratorium on gas prices and his operating costs. “If the price of fuel goes up for this, that’s going to impact me,” says Vujnovich. “It’s important for me that the oil company keeps the prices down, so that I can operate on a profitable level.”

“The moratorium is going to effect more than just the people that work on the rigs,” warns Leslie Bertucci of R & D Enterprises, a specialty oil field equipment company. “There is going to be a tremendously devastating ripple effect.”

Bertucci has first hand knowledge of economic stress – not caused by the oil – but by the moratorium. R and D Enterprises leases tanks and racks used on offshore rigs, including Deepwater Horizon.

Since the moratorium, the company’s equipment has laid idle on 23 offshore rigs creating zero revenue while still supporting its fourteen full-time employees.

“For the moment,” says Bertucci, “we are doing everything we can to keep them on payroll.”

The moratorium is proving to be the second largest crippling consequence of the BP disaster, but unlike the oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, it can be reversed.

“One of the main reasons I cannot support the moratorium,” says oysterman Vujnovich, “is because no matter what rules and policies you have in place, if they are not followed, they’re no good. If it’s decision making that caused this, then no matter what the rules and regulations would have been, no matter what plan you would have had in effect, it would have all been thrown by the wayside.”

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