US deepwater permits nearing issuance pace before Macondo oil spill

By OGJ editors

Government statistics show US federal agencies issued slightly fewer Gulf of Mexico deepwater permits during the last 12 months than in the same period before the April 2010 blowout of BP PLC’s Macondo well and resulting explosion and fire on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible.

Federal officials imposed a new drilling moratorium after the Apr. 20, 2010, incident, which killed 11 Deepwater Horizon crew members and resulted in a massive oil spill off Louisiana.

In the aftermath of the oil spill, an agency of the US Department of the Interior approved a permit on Feb. 28, 2011, to drill a well in more than 500 ft of water (OGJ Online, Feb. 28, 2011).

From Feb. 28, 2011, to Feb. 28, 2012, federal agencies issued 61 deepwater drilling permits in more than 500 ft of water. The permits were issued by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement and its successor, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

The 61 permits compares with 67 deepwater permits issued for the same period during 2009-10.

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