Feds won’t require new environmental studies for previously permitted deepwater drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — It could be back to business as usual for some oil companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement this week gave 13 companies a conditional go-ahead for more drilling. The companies, including Chevron and Shell, won’t have to revise their plans for previously approved operations if their worst-case spill estimates are less than the worst-case spill estimates in their oil spill response plans.
The companies will have to comply with new safety and environmental regulations developed after BP’s Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.
“Going forward, we are substantially enhancing our environmental reviews and analysis under NEPA,” said BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich. “But as we move forward, we are taking into account the special circumstances of those companies whose operations were interrupted by the moratorium and ensuring that they are able to resume previously-approved activities. For those companies that were in the midst of operations at the time of the deepwater suspensions, today’s notification is a significant step toward resuming their permitted activity.”
Collectively, the companies have billions of dollars invested in their Gulf of Mexico operations, and an earlier government report estimated that the temporary ban on deepwater drilling has resulted in as many as 12,000 lost jobs in the Gulf region. The ban was lifted last October after the federal government issued new safety rules, but no deepwater drilling has re-started yet.
The decision, however, appears to conflict with an earlier promise by the Obama administration to conduct more rigorous environmental reviews before allowing any more deepwater drilling. Gulf state leaders and the oil industry have been pressuring the Obama administration to move more quickly on re-starting drilling in the Gulf.
The 13 companies that received this weeks notice are: ATP Oil & Gas Corp., BHP Billiton Petroleum (GOM) Inc., Chevron USA Inc., Cobalt International Energy, ENI U.S. Operating Company Inc., Hess Corp., Kerr-McGee Oil & Gas Corp., Marathon Oil Company, Murphy Exploration & Production Company – USA, Noble Energy Inc., Shell Offshore Inc., Statoil USA E & P Inc., and Walter Oil & Gas Corp.
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, energy, Environment, oil drilling Tagged: | BOEMRE, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement, Deepwater drilling, Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf oil spill, Summit County News