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JEREMY HOBSON: The U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will be in Houston today meeting with oil industry executives. They want deep water drilling to be restarted in the Gulf of Mexico. It's been on hold since the BP oil spill. Secretary Salazar wants to find out if the industry has figured out how to contain any future oil spill.
For more on this story, let's bring in Barbara Shook. She's with the Energy Intelligence Group in Houston. Good morning.
BARBARA SHOOK: Good morning.
HOBSON: So, is the industry ready to start deep water drilling again, and perhaps more importantly, to handle a spill?
SHOOK: Yes I think they are. Last week five major oil companies introduced the equipment that they believe will be able to contain a sub-sea blowout. And I think they're ready to go, and they've done this in less than a year, and I think that demonstrates the industry can respond quickly and in the best case scenario.
HOBSON: And how badly to do oil companies need to be able to drill in the deep water in the Gulf? What's at stake for the companies?
SHOOK: Outside of Brazil, and West Africa, this is the best opportunity that they have for large oil deposits that are not controlled by national oil companies. And they've made discoveries that they cannot develop. And these are very important to the U.S. The U.S. in the last three or four years has seen its oil production plateau instead of decline, and if we want to remain in that situation, which I think is becoming even more critical with the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East, we have to get back into the Gulf of Mexico.
HOBSON: Barbara Shook, Houston bureau chief for the Energy Intelligence Group. Thanks so much for your time this morning.
SHOOK: Always a pleasure.