The director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM) Monday acknowledged the frustration of shallow-water drillers in the Gulf of Mexico as they face a slower permit approval process, but he said safety will not be compromised.

"I understand the frustration that people feel because we are not able to review and approved applications as expeditiously as we have in the past. But the central fact is that it has taken time to submit and verify additional required information," Michael R. Bromwich said during a meeting with Louisiana Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle and members of the shallow drilling coalition to discuss the status of the approval of applications for permits to drill (APD).

"We will not approve applications until and unless they fully comply with the new requirements. That will not make everyone happy, but it is the right way to proceed," he said.

Since June 8, 13 APDs have been submitted to BOEM, of which five have been approved, Bromwich said.

While the Obama administration imposed a six-month moratorium on drilling in the deepwater GOM, drillers in shallow waters (500 feet or less) say they have been subject to an indefinite "de facto moratorium" by the department's requirement that they meet stringent safety and environmental requirements before they can drill new wells (see Daily GPI, June 4).

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