Gulf of Mexico Spill Is `Major Setback' for Offshore Drilling, Yergin Says

The BP Plc oil well that’s spilling thousands of barrels of crude a day into the Gulf of Mexico may delay plans for domestic offshore drilling, according to Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS-Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

Oil has been gushing from the damaged well at a rate of 5,000 barrels a day and it may rival the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident as the worst oil spill in U.S. history. The leak already has complicated President Barack Obama’s proposal to allow more oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and off portions of the U.S. East Coast as some Democratic lawmakers call for the administration to reverse course.

“This is a really major setback both for climate and of course also on energy policy,” Yergin said in a Bloomberg Radio interview today with Tom Keene. “Everything now is obviously on hold.” Yergin is the author of a Pulitzer-Prize winning history of the oil industry.

Obama called the leak a “massive and potentially unprecedented” disaster that could affect the region’s economy and the jobs of those who depend on the Gulf for their livelihood.

“The first step is to get this leak under control. The second, almost simultaneously, is to understand what happened,” Yergin said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Childs in New York at mchilds5@bloomberg.net

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