BHP Billiton latest to get drilling permit from BOEMRE

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 14 -- The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement issued the second deepwater drilling permit on Mar. 11 under new regulations imposed following the Apr. 20, 2010, Macondo well accident and Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BHP Billiton Petroleum received a revised permit to drill Well SB 201 on Green Canyon Block 653 in the deepwater gulf about 120 miles off Louisiana.

The permit, like the one the US Department of the Interior agency issued to Noble Energy Inc. on Feb. 28, is for activity that was suspended after US Interior Sec. Ken Salazar imposed a moratorium on new deepwater drilling of federal leases on the US Outer Continental Shelf in the accident and spill’s wake.

BHP Billiton’s well also will use Helix Energy Solutions Group’s capping stack containment technology, BOEMRE said on Mar. 13. Initial drilling of the well began on Feb. 16, 2010, in 4,234 ft of water, it indicated.

One oil and gas industry group responded that all new deepwater drilling permits are welcome, but noted that the ones that have been issued so far are for projects that were operating before Salazar’s moratorium.

“The administration has chosen to focus on baby steps…instead of taking the steps necessary to produce the domestic resources this country needs,” said Erik Milito, American Petroleum Institute upstream director.

Milito added, “The oil and gas industry can and will provide even more jobs, higher economic growth, and increased revenue to the federal treasury when policymakers pursue options that make resources currently off-limits available, and move forward on permitting and licenses at a pace necessary to support domestic production.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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