U.S. says no deal to BP resuming oil drilling

By Lucy Brake - 04 Apr 2011 21:51:0 GMT
U.S. says no deal to BP resuming oil drilling

There has been much discussion in the media this week about the likelihood of BP starting drilling again in the Gulf of Mexico. The UK Financial Times said it could be as early as July 2011. They indicated that BP has agreed a deal with the U.S. government to drill some existing wells to continue or increase the production that is already underway.

The New York Times said that this creates a ''delicate situation for the Obama administration as it seeks to balance safety concerns with a desire to increase domestic oil production'', and thatthe approval would follow the U.S. government giving permission to other energy groups, such as Chevron, to restart drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

However, on a recent visit to Mexico with White House officials from the commission investigating the massive oil spill last year from the ruptured underwater Macondo well, the U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar confirmed yesterday that this was a ''misconception''. Following the reports that BP is going to resume drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, Salazar said: ''There is absolutely no such agreement nor would there be such an agreement''. This has come only one year after the most devastating oil spill in U.S. history has left Americans with a deep distrust of the British oil company.

The temporary ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has been lifted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and they have started giving permission to companies to recommence drilling in the area. A spokesperson for the Bureau said BP is not one of those: ''There are no ongoing negotiations''.

BP holds the largest deepwater acreage in the Gulf of Mexico and is a partner in many wells operated by other companies, including Noble Energy which was the first to receive an approved drilling permit from the Bureau.

As communities around the Gulf of Mexico struggle to regain their livelihoods after the Macondo well disaster, the U.S. government is putting in place stringent safety regulations for oil drilling in efforts to reduce the likelihood of such an oil spill happening again.