BOEMRE approves first deepwater drilling permit since accident

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 28 -- The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement approved the first deepwater drilling permit on Feb. 28 since the Macondo well accident and crude oil spill. BOEMRE said Noble Energy Inc.’s application for a permit to bypass was for Well No. 2 in Mississippi Canyon Block 519 about 70 miles southeast of Venice, La.

The permit represents a significant milestone for both the US Department of the Interior agency and the oil and gas industry since Interior Sec. Ken Salazar placed a moratorium on new deepwater drilling following the well blowout and explosion which took 11 lives, BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich said.

“This permit was issued for one simple reason: The operator successfully demonstrated that it can drill its deepwater well safely and that it is capable of containing a subsea blowout if it were to occur,” Bromwich told reporters during a teleconference. “We expect further deepwater permits to be approved in coming weeks and months based on the same process that led to the approval of this permit.”

In Houston, Noble Energy said it received permission to resume drilling its Santiago prospect in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, which it described as a middle Miocene amplitude prospect in 6,500 ft of water where the independent producer is operator and holds a 23.25% working interest. The well was drilled to a 13,585 ft depth when operations were suspended on June 12, and Noble Energy said it expects to resume work in late March to a 19,000 ft targeted drilling depth, with results anticipated by the end of May.

David L. Stover, the company’s chief executive, said Noble Energy worked over several months with other operators and service providers to make deepwater drilling operations safer, including implementing third-party certification of well designs and blowout preventer testing.

Coordinated with BOEMRE
“Our partnership with others in the Helix Well Containment Group has increased the deepwater Gulf subsea control and containment capabilities,” he said. “The industry has improved its ability to respond to surface spills as well. Our teams have done an outstanding job of coordinating with the BOEMRE on these matters…. Noble Energy is proud to help lead the industry back to drilling in the deepwater gulf.”

Bromwich emphasized that no politics were involved in approving Noble Energy’s application, which he said had been working its way toward approval for several weeks. He noted that Helix Group has said that its system works to depths of 5,600 ft, but added that Noble Energy complemented that with additions which BOEMRE determined would effectively contain a blowout from 6,500 ft. The agency also has held several meetings with the Marine Well Containment Co., the group formed by four multinational oil companies operating in the gulf, and will approve that system if a producer demonstrates that it will work, he said.

“We are taking these applications to drill as they come in. Right now, a very small number are pending,” Bromwich said. “I expect industry has been waiting for a signal that deepwater drilling would be allowed to resume, and this could be the signal. I have no way of knowing how long it will take to approve the next one. It involves careful analysis of each application. Given the rigorous safety requirements, the public can be confident that the approved wells will be safe.”

Oil and gas industry trade associations welcomed the news. “The actual issuance of a permit for new deepwater drilling is long awaited and an important step forward in the wise development of energy off our shores,” said National Ocean Industries Association Pres. Randall B. Luthi. “With all the world-complicating factors, including rising oil prices, political turmoil in the Middle East, and the loss of jobs in the Gulf of Mexico, this decision offers hope that the United States is getting back in the energy and jobs market.”

He said taking DOI at its word that approval of Noble Energy’s application is not simply a token gesture, the action “sends a calming signal to operators, producers and service companies that the long drought is just about over,” adding, “It is also a compliment to Director Bromwich and a testament to the efforts of many within industry that the containment and safety issues can be resolved when industry and BOEMRE work together.”

Contact Nick Snow at

Related Articles

PHMSA proposes pipeline accident notification regulations

07/02/2015 The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has proposed new federal oil and gas pipeline accident and notification regulations. ...

FourPoint Energy to acquire Anadarko basin assets from Chesapeake

07/02/2015 FourPoint Energy LLC, a privately owned Denver company, plans to acquire oil and gas assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. subsidiaries Chesapeake Ex...

Puma Energy completes purchase of Murco’s UK refinery, terminals

07/02/2015 Singapore-based Puma Energy Group Pte. has completed its purchase of UK midstream and downstream assets from Murco Petroleum Ltd., a subsidiary of ...

BP to settle federal, state Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7 billion

07/02/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc. has agreed in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon inciden...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices plummet on crude inventory build, Iran deadline extension

07/02/2015 Oil prices plummeted more than $2/bbl July 1 to settle at a 2-month low on the New York market after a weekly government report showed the first ri...

API to issue recommended practice to address pipeline safety

07/01/2015 The American Petroleum Institute expects to issue a new recommended practice in another few weeks that addresses pipeline safety issues, but the tr...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

MARKET WATCH: Oil prices decline as US crude inventories post first gain in 9 weeks

07/01/2015 Oil prices on July 1 surrendered much of their gains from the day before after the release of a government report showing the first rise in US crud...

FWS issues Shell letter of authorization on Chukchi Sea lease

07/01/2015 The US Fish & Wildlife Service issued Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. a letter of authorization (LOA) related to the potential disturbance of polar b...
White Papers

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

Operating a Sustainable Oil & Gas Supply Chain in North America

When Tue, Oct 20, 2015

Short lead times and unpredictable conditions in the Oil & Gas industry can create costly challenges in supply chains. By implementing a LEAN culture of continuous improvement you can eliminate waste, increase productivity and gain end-to-end visibility leading to a sustainable and well-oiled supply chain.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Ryder System, Inc.


On Demand

Leveraging technology to improve safety & reliability

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

Attend this informative webinar to learn more about how to leverage technology to meet the new OSHA standards and protect your employees from the hazards of arc flash explosions.


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.


Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!


Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected