May 28 - As a result of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, US president Obama has extended a moratorium on new offshore oil drilling by six months.

This has dashed hopes of heavy lift operators in the oil and gas industry that opening up off-shore oil exploration in US waters could provide new business opportunities. 

Telling a White House news conference that the "oil spill is an unprecedented disaster," Obama denied accusations that the federal US government had been too slow in response to the accident.

The move to allow offshore oil drilling had been a major plank in the Obama government's efforts to reduce the country's reliance on imported oil yet observers are now suggesting this policy will have to be re-thought in light of what has happened in the Gulf of Mexico.