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First Permit Since BP Catastrophe

The Department of the Interior has issued the first deep water drilling permit in the Gulf of Mexico to Noble Energy, Inc. since the BP Oil Spill, a senior official said Monday.

After a thorough vetting process, Noble Energy Inc. has been granted permission to resume drilling in 6,500 feet of water off the coast of Louisiana. Work on the well was suspended, along with virtually all other drilling activity in water deeper than 5,000 feet, immediately after the Deepwater Horizon accident last April 20, which killed 11 rig workers and spewed nearly five million barrels of oil into the ocean.

Michael R. Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, said that Noble Energy Inc. had been granted permission to resume drilling in 6,500 feet of water off the coast of Louisiana. Work on the well was suspended, along with virtually all other drilling activity in water deeper than 5,000 feet, immediately after the Deepwater Horizon accident last April 20, which killed 11 rig workers and spewed nearly five million barrels of oil into the ocean.

“Noble Energy’s application has met the requirements of our new safety regulations and information requirements.” Bromwich said in a conference call with reporters.

“This means among other things that Noble Energy has met new requirements to show that it is prepared to deal with a potential blowout and potential for a worst-case discharge scenario.”

Bromwich said there were seven applications pending. “We are moving forward with deepwater drilling,” he said, underscoring that all applications would be determined on “a well-by-well basis.”

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