The Interior Department on Friday granted Apache Corp. a permit to drill a natural gas well in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), the producer said Monday.

Apache said earlier this month that Interior had given it preliminary approval for the new well, which would be the first issued after new offshore drilling safety regulations were put into effect following the April 20 offshore rig disaster (see related story).

The permit was granted on Friday and Apache began drilling the shallow gas well on Sunday, the company said. The well was expected to be drilled to about 50 feet deep. Ensco plc is supplying the rig.

In related news, talks apparently resumed Monday between Apache and BP plc concerning BP's Alaska assets (see Daily GPI, July 19). CNBC reported that the talks, "which appeared lined up to deliver a deal this week, hit a stalemate over the weekend on issues on valuation and contract language." Apache is said to want to pay less than $10 billion for BP's Prudhoe Bay properties, while BP wants at least $10 billion, according to various media reports.

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