Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Michael R. Bromwich, director of Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM), announced Monday that the department has issued guidance to offshore oil and natural gas operators clarifying industry requirements with respect to corporate compliance statements and blowout containment resources.

The announcement was issued through a Notice to Lessees (NTL), and is part of the department's increased oversight efforts following the lifting of the moratorium on deepwater drilling in mid-October.

Effective immediately, each operator seeking to drill in deep waters must submit a statement signed by an authorized company official that asserts that the operator has complied with all regulations, including the new drilling safety rule.

The NTL also confirms that BOEM will be evaluating whether each operator has submitted adequate information to demonstrate that it has access to, and can deploy, subsea blowout containment resources that would be significant enough to promptly respond to a deepwater blowout or other loss of well control.

The NTL provides clarifications of current federal regulations, which Interior said may be supplemented by future rulemaking. The NTL applies to operators conducting operations using subsea blowout preventers (BOP) or surface BOP on floating facilities.

"It is extremely important for operators that they comply with all rules and regulations that apply to offshore drilling, and that they would have access to equipment needed to handle a deepwater blowout," said Bromwich. "These are obvious but important elements of our review and evaluation of deepwater drilling permit applications."

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