By Katarzyna Klimasinska
Business ExchangeBuzz up!DiggPrint Email .BP Plc (BP/) has applied to drill one well in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico since an exploration ban was lifted in October, according to a person in the U.S. government familiar with the application who asked not to be named because a decision hasn’t been reached.
The London-based company doesn’t have an agreement with the U.S. to resume drilling, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on a conference call with reporters today. He denied a report in the Sunday Times of London, which cited unnamed sources, that said BP had reached an agreement.
BP hasn’t done exploratory drilling in the Gulf since its Macondo well exploded there last April, causing the worst U.S. offshore spill.
“There is no agreement with respect to BP, nor will there be any agreement with respect to BP or anybody else that isn’t within the normal process that we have,” Salazar said on a call from Mexico City. “We receive applications for wells, and those applications will be taken through the same process, with the same rigorous review that we are requiring of any other company.”
Companies that want to explore for oil in the Gulf’s deep waters have to apply to Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, demonstrate access to equipment helping contain spilled oil, and meet higher safety and environmental standards introduced after BP disaster.
The bureau has approved drilling on eight wells in waters deeper than 500 feet (152 meters) after a ban on such operations was lifted in October. BP has a stake of about 47.5 percent in the site called the Santiago prospect, which was the first to win Interior’s approval to resume operations on Feb. 28. Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. (NBL) is the operator on that project.
BP isn’t saying whether it has sought permission to drill, Daren Beaudo, a BP spokesman in Houston, said in an e-mail today. The New York Times today reported that the company is seeking approval to resume drilling, citing unnamed BP executives.
Interior Department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff declined to comment.
BP’s American depositary receipts, each equal to six ordinary shares, rose 9 cents to $45.75 at 1:58 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading and climbed 3.4 percent this year through April 1.
To contact the reporter on this story: Katarzyna Klimasinska in Washington at email@example.com
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