Over the past year, the oil industry has warned that – without more reasonable regulations – it would be forced to move its heavy drilling equipment out of the Gulf of Mexico to more welcoming environments overseas.

It wasn’t just loose talk.

Reuters has produced this fascinating fact box that tracks all the far flung locations that gulf rigs moved to in the wake of last year’s deep water drilling moratorium in the Gulf. It’s important to note that these rigs departed not just because of the moratorium itself but because of the continued delays and red tape that created a hostile business environment even after the moratorium was lifted.

Today, countries from Egypt to Angola, French Guiana and Vietnam house the rigs that not long ago were tapping our own natural resources here at home. A Noble Corp. rig is moving to Brazil; a Transocean rig is under contract to an Italian oil company off the coast of Africa. The report, which said that more than 30 rigs had moved from the Gulf into other markets, noted that some of those were planning to return. But the distances that many of them had moved underscores the challenges of rebuilding a domestic oil industry once it is weakened by onerous regulations.

This massive departure should call attention to the ways all of our resource-rich regions are vulnerable to policies that challenge business activity. This week, we want to highlight another key area of focus, Alaska, which is the subject of CEA’s recent Call to Action. Alaska is similar to the Gulf of Mexico, not only for its abundance of oil and gas, but because of the hurdles it has encountered developing those resources. The Call to Action focuses on yet another step in the environment review – an additional analysis that considers a hypothetical “very large oil spill” for Lease Sale 193 in the Chukchi.  Although this review concluded the probability of a large oil spill is highly unlikely, Shell cannot move forward to explore and produce these resources until the review is finalized.  Please be sure to comment on this issue.

And on a separate issue, this week the EPA will hold meetings in Barrow, Alaska over oil and gas exploration in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, regions believed to be some of the most underdeveloped sources of oil in the world.  These hearings are part of a very protracted review of the impact of oil activities in the region, and CEA believes the time has come to move forward.

Please visit our web site to read more about this Call to Action and how you can make a difference. The comment period ends next month so please tell lawmakers that there have been enough delays. As the mass exodus from the Gulf of Mexico over the past year reminds us, oil operators cannot wait indefinitely.