US awards first deepwater permit post-Gulf spill

Feb 28, 2011
The sun sets out over the Gulf of Mexico. The US government has awarded its first permit for deepwater drilling in the Gulf since a moratorium was lifted after the BP oil disaster last year, a senior official said Monday.

The US government has awarded its first permit for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico since a moratorium was lifted after the BP oil disaster last year, a senior official said Monday.

Michael Bromwich, head of the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy, said the permit was approved for US firm Noble Energy after a thorough vetting process and marked "a significant milestone" for Gulf operations.

"Noble Energy's application has met the requirements of our new safety regulations and information requirements," Bromwich said in a conference call with reporters.

"This means among other things that Noble Energy has met new requirements to show that it is prepared to deal with a potential blowout and potential for a worst-case discharge scenario."

Bromwich said there were seven applications pending.

"We are moving forward with deepwater drilling," he said, underscoring that all applications would be determined on "a well-by-well basis."

Bromwich was brought in last June to head the Interior's highly criticized former Minerals Management Service in a reorganization aimed at strengthening oversight and policing of offshore and gas development following the BP spill, the worst oil disaster in US history.

A massive explosion on April 20, 2010, killed 11 workers and sank the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig, opening a leak that released more than 205 million gallons of oil into the , fouling US shorelines, closing rich shrimp and fishing grounds, and scaring off tourists.

Bromwich said Noble Energy demonstrated that it had the capabilities, together with contractor Helix Energy Solutions, to cap and contain a blowout.

Noble's worst-case scenario is a spill of 69,700 barrels a day, he said.

The United States on October 12 lifted a ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf that had been due to expire at the end of November, but set operators tough new safety conditions.

Explore further: Pact with devil? California farmers use oil firms' water

Related Stories

US lifts Gulf of Mexico deepwater drilling ban

Oct 13, 2010

The United States lifted a ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico imposed after the BP oil spill, but set operators tough new safety conditions, officials said.

US creates new agencies for oil oversight

Jan 19, 2011

Three separate bodies will now oversee offshore oil resources, once handled by an agency whose poor management was exposed after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, US officials announced Wednesday.

US sets up security zone around BP oil spill site

Oct 28, 2010

A security zone has been set up around the site of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to safeguard any evidence of the environmental disaster earlier this year, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

BP removes cap from plugged well in Gulf of Mexico

Sep 02, 2010

BP on Thursday removed a massive cap which had stemmed the flow of oil from its ruptured well deep in the Gulf of Mexico in a key step toward killing the well once and for all, officials said.

Recommended for you

Gimmicks and technology: California learns to save water

Jul 03, 2015

Billboards and TV commercials, living room visits, guess-your-water-use booths, and awards for water stinginess—a wealthy swath of Orange County that once had one of the worst records for water conservation ...

Cities, regions call for 'robust' world climate pact

Jul 03, 2015

Thousands of cities, provinces and states from around the world urged national governments on Thursday to deliver a "robust, binding, equitable and universal" planet-saving climate pact in December.

Will climate change put mussels off the menu?

Jul 03, 2015

Climate change models predict that sea temperatures will rise significantly, including in the tropics. In these areas, rainfall is also predicted to increase, reducing the salt concentration of the surface ...

As nations dither, cities pick up climate slack

Jul 02, 2015

Their national governments hamstrung by domestic politics, stretched budgets and diplomatic inertia, many cities and provinces have taken a leading role—driven by necessity—in efforts to arrest galloping ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1.3 / 5 (12) Feb 28, 2011
The Obama admin must be feeling the heat of higher pump prices, or they would never ever have granted this or any other drilling permit. I'm frankly surprised it went to an American company instead of Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

Maybe it's just a one-off to make it look like they're easing the ban.
5 / 5 (1) Mar 01, 2011
It's great that they are forcing contingency plans for the wells. It's a strange aspect of human nature that we only make things safer after a disaster.

Like all those winding mountain roads that get barriers put in place only after someone dies.
2.8 / 5 (5) Mar 01, 2011
Obama pretends to care about US energy. I'm impressed. Not. We're going to get $4 gasoline, again, and a recession, again. Duh.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.