April 1 - Heavy lift operators servicing the oil and gas industries may be able to benefit from a loosening of restrictions on US domestic offshore drilling for oil signalled by President Obama in a recently announced bill to tackle climate change.

Obama said he was lifting some of the 20-year old restrictions on offshore drilling, opening up potential sites off the Virginian and Florida coastlines.

Some two-thirds of available oil and gas resources in the eastern Gulf of Mexico could be opened to drilling under the loosening of the restrictions. Drilling would occur more than 200 km off the Florida coast, requiring significant transport of heavy drilling and support equipment.

The plan would allow drilling on the Atlantic coast, while not allowing such activity in southwest Alaska's Bristol Bay. Regions of the Arctic Ocean off Alaska's North Slope, however, could be accessed by operators.