First Permit to Restart Deep Water Drilling

Deepwater Horizon on Fire

Yesterday we reviewed John Konrad’s new book, Fire on the Horizon:  The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disaster, which went on sale in bookstores today.   Coincidentally,  yesterday the Interior Department approved the first new deep water drilling permit in the Gulf of Mexico since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon  in April of last year.  Noble Energy was granted permission to resume drilling an existing well site in 6,500 feet of water off the coast of Louisiana.

Oil Drilling to Resume in the Gulf’s Deep Waters

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.

Still, there was no indication that drilling in the gulf would return anytime soon to levels preceding the BP well blowout.

Mr. Bromwich made clear that each new permit would be closely reviewed on a well-by-well basis and that the old system of rapid approvals of drilling permits had been permanently changed. Noble Energy said it expected to resume drilling by late March.

Approval of the Noble Energy application comes as oil prices are rising in response to unrest in the Middle East and North Africa and many in Congress and in industry are complaining of burdensome rules that are thwarting the development of domestic energy resources.

Mr. Bromwich noted that Noble’s permit was the first in deep water since the BP accident but that 37 shallow-water applications had been approved over the last 10 months.



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