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 nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

EPA approves Magellan’s Corpus Christi splitter project

12/12/2014 The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final greenhouse gas prevention of significant deterioration construction permit to Magellan Pr...

US needs more data before ending crude export ban, House panel told

12/11/2014 Much more environmental impact information is needed before the US can reasonably remove crude oil export limits, a witness told a House Energy and...

BOEM raises offshore oil spill liability limit to $134 million

12/11/2014 The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management increased the liability limit for oil-spill related damages from offshore operations to $134 million from ...

Rosneft, Essar sign terms of oil supply agreement

12/11/2014 OAO Rosneft and Essar Energy PLC have signed key terms of an oil supply agreement in New Delhi. Rosneft said shipments to India may begin in 2015.

Barton introduces bill to remove US crude export limits

12/11/2014

US Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) introduced legislation that would remove US crude oil export limits that have been in place for nearly 40 years.

North Dakota producers face new vapor pressure standards

12/10/2014 North Dakota has approved new rail transportation safety standards for crude oil that stipulate operating standards for oil-conditioning equipment ...

Chevron, ONGC among companies awarded 15 exploration permits by New Zealand

12/09/2014 New Zealand’s government has awarded six onshore permits across the Taranaki, West Coast, and East Coast basins, and nine offshore permits across t...

Small subset of wells accounts for most methane emissions, researchers say

12/09/2014 A small subset of natural gas wells are responsible for most methane emissions from US natural gas production, said a study from the University of ...

Methane controls just part of complete climate strategy, speakers say

12/08/2014 Reducing oil and gas operations’ methane emissions is an essential, but far from the only, part of a comprehensive climate strategy, speakers at a ...

White Papers

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...

Accurate Thermo-Fluid Simulation in Real Time Environments

The crux of any task undertaken in System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis is striking a balance between ti...

6 ways for Energy, Chemical and Oil and Gas Companies to Avert the Impending Workforce Crisis

As many as half of the skilled workers in energy, chemical and oil & gas industries are quickly he...
Sponsored by

AVEVA NET Accesses and Manages the Digital Asset

Global demand for new process plants, power plants and infrastructure is increasing steadily with the ...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Approach for the Digital Asset

To meet the requirements for leaner project execution and more efficient operations while transferring...
Sponsored by

Diversification - the technology aspects

In tough times, businesses seek to diversify into adjacent markets or to apply their skills and resour...
Sponsored by

Engineering & Design for Lean Construction

Modern marketing rhetoric claims that, in order to cut out expensive costs and reduce risks during the...
Sponsored by

Object Lessons - Why control of engineering design at the object level is essential for efficient project execution

Whatever the task, there is usually only one way to do it right and many more to do it wrong. In the c...
Sponsored by

Available Webcasts



The Future of US Refining

When Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST


Oil & Gas Journal’s Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015

When Fri, Jan 30, 2015

The  Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015 Webcast will address Oil & Gas Journal’s outlooks for the oil market and pipeline construction in a year of turbulence. Based on two annual special reports, the webcast will be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and OGJ Managing Editor-Technology Chris Smith.
The Forecast & Review portion of the webcast will identify forces underlying the collapse in crude oil prices and assess prospects for changes essential to recovery—all in the context of geopolitical pressures buffeting the market.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Optimizing your asset management practices to mitigate the effects of a down market

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

The oil and gas market is in constant flux, and as the price of BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent) goes down it is increasingly important to optimize your asset management strategy to stay afloat.  Attend this webinar to learn how developing a solid asset management plan can help your company mitigate costs in any market.

register:WEBCAST


Parylene Conformal Coatings for the Oil & Gas Industry

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

In this concise 30-minute webinar, participants have an opportunity to learn more about how Parylene coatings are applied, their features, and the value they add to devices and components.

register:WEBCAST


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