Drilling to resume in US Gulf
The US’ interior department on Monday 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 the industry and a wholesale remaking of the nation’s system of offshore oil and gas regulation. Noble Energy had been granted permission to resume drilling in 6,500 feet of water off the Louisiana cost.
Each new permit would be reviewed on a well-by-well basis. Noble Energy said it expected to resume drilling by late March.
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, which killed 11 workers and spewed five million barrels of oil into the ocean.
The approval comes as oil prices are rising in response to unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.
Noble’s permit was the first in deepwater since the BP accident but 37 shallow-water applications had been approved over the last 10 months.