Mar 09 2011

Back in the Saddle: First New Deepwater Drilling Permit Issued for Gulf since BP Spill

Published by at 8:00 am under Energy,Water/Maritime and tagged: , , , ,

Map of the northern Gulf of Mexico showing the nearly 4,000 active oil and gas platforms in 2006, via wikimedia

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement announced last week that they had approved the first permit for a deepwater drilling operation since the Deepwater Horizon Disaster.  The permit is for Noble Energy, who plan to drill in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. The permit allows drilling to resume on a well in 6500 feet of water that was suspended as part of the drilling moratorium and subsequent remaking of the regulations. BOEMRE said in a statement that Noble has complied with the new, more rigorous safety standards and therefore are ready to begin drilling safely in the Gulf of Mexico.  This announcement comes after a Feburary decision by Judge Martin Feldman, who enjoined enforcement of the drilling moratorium and held the Interior in contempt of court in prior cases, ruled that the Interior Department had to take action on five pending permits.

BOEMRE: “BOEMRE Approves First Deepwater Drilling Permit To Meet Important New Safety Standards in Gulf of Mexico”

NY Times: “Oil Drilling to Resume in the Gulf’s Deep Water”

WASHINGTON — The Interior Department said Monday that it had approved the first new deepwater drilling permit in the Gulf of Mexico since the BP explosion and spill last spring, a milestone after a period of intense uncertainty for industry and a wholesale remaking of the nation’s system of offshore oil and gas regulation.

Michael R. Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, said that Noble Energy had been granted permission to resume drilling in 6,500 feet of water off the coast of Louisiana.

Work on the well was suspended, along with virtually all other drilling activity in water deeper than 5,000 feet, immediately after the Deepwater Horizon accident last April 20. The disaster killed 11 rig workers and spewed nearly five million barrels of oil into the ocean.

BBC: “US Grants First Deepwater Drill Permit Since Gulf Spill”

The US has granted the first new permit for deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico since last year’s spill at a BP-owned oil well there.

In a statement, a US official said Noble Energy had demonstrated it could safely drill a well 70 miles (113km) off the Louisiana coast.

The well is situated 6,500ft (1,981m) under the Gulf of Mexico.

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