It would be difficult to find anyone involved in BP's (NYSE: BP) Gulf of Mexico Macondo Prospect who, prior to April 20, deeply considered the possibility that danger lurked on the sea bed a mile beneath the surface. But the explosion that occurred on that date have now turned the world of oil and gas in the gulf topsy-turvy.

As you know, Transocean's (NYSE: RIG) semisubmersible Deepwater Horizon exploded and went up in flames that night, killing 11 crew members and setting loose an oil spill that now ranks as our nation's worst.

That oil has now found its way to the Louisiana shore, where the time and money required for cleanup could be measured in years and untold BP shekels.

BP is pumping heavy mud into the blown-out well in a "top kill" procedure intended to halt the spill. But, it appears that it'll be well into the weekend before we have a realistic handle on the procedure's result. That sort of pokey pace and attendant environmental damage on Thursday unleashed a frustrated President Obama, who announced several new measures to deal with the crisis and prevent others:

  • A six-month moratorium on new deepwater development in the gulf and halting 33 deepwater exploratory wells currently in progress.
  • Cancellation of a lease sale planned for August in the western gulf and another proposed sale off the Virginia coast.
  • Suspending a planned drilling program in Alaska's Chukchi and Beaufort seas, where Shell (NYSE: RDS-A) has an ambitions effort set for this summer.

Among the companies active in the Gulf of Mexico and thereby likely to be affected by the extended moratorium are Anadarko (NYSE: APC) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX), while smaller operators like ATP Oil & Gas (Nasdaq: ATPG) have been hit particularly hard. But a friend of mine who has more than 30 years of oil industry experience and writes a blog called The Daily Hurricane feels that six months is insufficient. He points in particular to the time required for the development of new technologies needed to deal with deepwater blowouts.

I'm inclined to urge Foolish energy investors to maintain their pre-April 20 approaches to the sector. While gulf production levels may be affected somewhat, increased oil and natural gas prices should provide some offset in the meantime.

Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned above. He welcomes your questions or comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy.