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article imageBP gets first dibs on drilling in Gulf of Mexico again

By Lynn Herrmann     Mar 4, 2011 in Business
Washington - The US government’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) announced this week it issued a deepwater drilling permit to Noble Energy, a minor owner of a well that BP has a 46.5 percent stake in.
Houston-based Noble Energy is the recipient of the government’s first deepwater drilling permit that allows resumption of drilling in the Gulf’s deep waters. Noble Energy is the operator of a well that had been under way last year before BP’s Macondo Well blowout took the lives of 11 workers, wreaked havoc on the Gulf’s waters, and is only now beginning to show the negative impacts on the Gulf’s biodiversity.
Noble Energy owns around 23 percent of the well and two smaller companies, Red Willow Production and Houston Energy LP, also own small percentages of the well. The well’s largest percentage holder is BP.
BOEMRE’s director, Michael Bromwich, said: “The permit represents a significant milestone for us and for the offshore oil and gas industry, and is an important step towards safely developing deepwater energy supplies offshore,” according to a department news release.
“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. 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,” Bromwich added.
BOEMRE note’s Noble Energy’s containment capabilities were part of the approval process:
As part of its approval process, the bureau reviewed Noble Energy’s containment capability available for the specific well proposed in the permit application. Noble Energy contracted with the Helix Well Containment Group (Helix) to use its capping stack to stop the flow of oil should a well control event occur. The capabilities of the capping stack meet the requirements that are specific to the characteristics of the proposed well.
BP’s involvement in the largest off-shore “oil spill in the history of mankind” did not stop the government from allowing the oil giant to return to the waters it played a major role in tainting, due to a series of man-made decisions leading up to the blowout.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has called to question the oil industry’s ongoing status as recipient of government subsidies in light of “the largest offshore accidental oil spill in the history of mankind.”
Days after BP’s Deepwater Horizon incident was capped, the government announce most of the oil that had been discharged into the Gulf had disappeared, thanks to microorganisms consuming the oil, but new research released by scientists reveals only around 10 percent of the oil is gone, with much of it still in the Gulf’s water column and residing on the ocean floor.
A list of well types, pending and approved permits, and new safety regulation information can be found here.
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