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Statoil Wins Permit to Drill in the Deepwater Gulf

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM) has approved its sixth permit -- this one for Statoil Gulf of Mexico LLC -- to drill in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Since the lifting of the federal moratorium on offshore drilling last October, it is the second permit to be issued to drill a new well. The first one went to Chevron USA Inc.

The revised permit allows Statoil to drill a new well for the company's Well No. 1 in Alaminos Canyon Block 810 in 7,134 feet of water, approximately 216 miles off the Texas coast, south of Texas City, according to BOEM.

Statoil's Well No. 1 is a new well, the agency said. The operator had a rig under contract and an approved permit to drill a new well when activities were suspended following the Macondo well blowout, which resulted in the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig and subsequent spill last April (see Daily GPI, April 22, 2010).

"This permit is the sixth we have approved since Feb. 17, when industry demonstrated that it had the capacity to handle subsea blowouts and spills. Some say we are now proceeding too quickly; some say we are still proceeding too slowly. The truth is, we are proceeding as quickly as our resources allow to approve permit applications that satisfy our rigorous safety and environmental standards. We will continue to do so," said BOEM Director Michael R. Bromwich.

As part of its approval process, the bureau said it reviewed Statoil's containment capability available for the specific well proposed in the permit application. Statoil has contracted with the Helix Well Containment Group to use its capping stack to stop the flow of oil should a well control event occur, the BOEM said.

The permit issued to Chevron allows the company to drill a new well for its Well No. 1 in Keathley Canyon Block 736 in 6,750 feet of water, approximately 216 miles off the Louisiana coast. Initial drilling on Chevron's Well No.1 began in March 2010 and was halted three months later following the Macondo well blowout.

ExxonMobil Corp. was issued a permit last week to resume deepwater drilling in Keathley Canyon Block 919, approximately 240 miles off the coast south of Lafayette, LA (see Daily GPI, March 23). This was the first permit approved that designated the Marine Well Containment Corp.'s system as its containment solution, according to BOEM.

And the BOEM has approved permits for ATP Oil & Gas Corp., Noble Energy and BHP Billiton to resume drilling in the deepwater Gulf (see Daily GPI, March 1). The permits for these producers, as well as ExxonMobil, allow continuation of drilling that was interrupted by the moratorium. They do not permit new drilling.

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