BSEE approves BP's first deepwater drilling permit since Macondo

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) approved a drilling permit for BP PLC to drill for oil and gas in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The permit, which BP originally submitted in January, is BP’s first drilling permit approved since the April 2010 Macondo deepwater well blowout and resulting explosion and fire that killed 11 crew members on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible. BP operated the Macondo well, which spilled nearly 5 million bbl of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The application is under a supplemental exploration plan that was approved last week following a site-specific environmental assessment by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (OGJ Online, Oct. 21, 2011).

“BP has met all of the enhanced safety requirements that we have implemented and applied consistently over the past year. In addition, BP has adhered to voluntary standards that go beyond the agency’s regulatory requirements,” BSEE Director Michael R. Bromwich said. “This permit was approved only after thorough well design, blowout preventer, and containment capability reviews.”

BSEE said the proposed exploratory well is part of BP’s Kaskida prospect in the gulf’s Keathley Canyon area 246 miles south of Lafayette, La., in 6,034 ft of water.

In addition to meeting the bureau’s rigorous standards, BSEE verified that BP has met the additional standards it volunteered to adhere to in July, including the use of blind shear rams and a casing shear ram on subsea BOPs, third-party verification of BOP testing and maintenance, and laboratory testing of cement slurries, BSEE said.

As part of its approval process, BSEE reviewed BP’s containment capability available for the specific well proposed in the permit application. BP has contracted with the Marine Well Containment Co. to use its capping stack to stop the flow of oil if a blowout occurs, according to BSEE. The capabilities of the capping stack meet the requirements established by the specific characteristics of the proposed well, it said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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