Noble Energy was awarded the first new deepwater drilling permit by the Interior Dept. this week, almost four months after the drilling moratorium was lifted and nearly a year after the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Noble Energy, whose site sits 70 miles off the coast of Louisiana, must comply with increased safety regulations and has a revamped blowout prevention plan in place.
From the New York Times:
“This 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,” said Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. “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.”
Noble estimated a worst-case discharge of 69,700 barrels of oil per day if it loses control of its well. But the company has contracted with the Helix Well Containment Group to use its capping stack to stop the flow of oil in such a scenario, Bromwich said.
BOEMRE expects additional deepwater permits to be issued in the coming weeks and months based on a process similar to Noble’s permit, but the approvals will be limited because only a handful of completed applications have been received, Bromwich said.
Submitted by Patrick McQueen.