Drilling Moratorium Costing Gulf Docks Business

As the Obama administration's six month moratorium on deep sea drilling winds through the courts, tens of thousands of oil workers are in limbo.

In Louisiana, oil is a $70 billion business. If the moratorium becomes permanent, it could cost the state more than the spill itself.

Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf

Much of this coast lives off deepwater drilling. BP has set up a compensation fund for them, but it's not nearly enough. At one dock, what matters is what you don't see, CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.

There's so little activity, Dwayne Rebstock could lose his company. His 30 employees load and unload ships that service deepwater drilling.

At Port Fourchon, La., they last unloaded a ship three weeks ago. Rebstock's business is down 90 percent and it's all because of the moratorium.

"Everyone's in the same boat we are," Rebstock said.

All 33 deepwater rigs have shut down production because of too much uncertainty. A six-month federal moratorium was lifted, but another's on its way.

BP has set a compensation fund of $100 million, but this industry could lose as much as $330 million a month in wages with a 120,000 jobs on the line.

More oil washed in Tuesday. Every new wave is another reminder of why the Obama White House imposed the moratorium in the first place.

Louisiana's leaders want more help.

"Our people want to go back to work," Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal said.

If employees like Mark McGiver are laid off, the 51-year-old grandfather says BP's compensation may be his only hope.

"I get up at 2 o'clock, sit with the wife, talk about what's going to happen," said McGiver. "I leave at 3:30, 4 o'clock hoping I can make it another day."

Rebstock has started laying off employees. He guesses at this rate, his company will survive a month more, maybe two.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.