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Obama To Keep Drilling Moratorium For Six Months

U.S. President Barack Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama has announced a six-month extension on a deepwater oil drilling moratorium while a special commission studies the reasons for the Gulf of Mexico spill.

The president made the announcement on May 27 at a White House news conference. He said the spill is "a tremendous catastrophe."

He also denounced what he called "the oil industry's cozy and sometimes corrupt" ties with government regulators.

"This oil spill has made clear that more reforms are needed. For years there has been a scandalously close relationship between oil companies and the agency that regulates them. That's why we decided to separate the people who permit the drilling from those who regulate and ensure the safety of the drilling," Obama said.

The extended moratorium represents a further setback for offshore drilling expansion, a key element of Obama's proposed energy policy overhaul.

Meanwhile, oil giant British Petroleum (BP) said an operation to halt the flow of leaking oil is ongoing, but it is still too early to know if it will be successful.

Obama said on May 27 that all steps BP is taking to solve the oil spill problem must be approved in advance by the U.S. government.

Scientists studying the blown-out well say new oil flow estimates are much higher than previously thought, making the the leak the worst in the nation's history.

with agency reports