Dec 3 (Reuters) - Oil and natural gas producer W&T Offshore Inc's ban from bidding on federal government contracts in the Gulf of Mexico could last up to three years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday.
The EPA issued a temporary ban against the small Gulf of Mexico producer last month after it pled guilty earlier this year to spilling some oil from a drilling platform in 2009. The ban was effective immediately, the agency said.
"The letter from the EPA is pretty vague to me," W&T Chief Executive and founder Tracy Krohn said on Monday. "We're a little unclear on what this exactly means."
He added he did not know whether his staff had been in contact with the EPA. W&T has not appealed the ban.
The EPA told Reuters that the company must appeal and would be granted a hearing. At the end of hearing, W&T could face a three-year debarment that would affect all of its operations in the Gulf.
Shares of W&T fell 1.2 percent to $16.70 in Tuesday trading.
W&T said last week that it received a letter on Nov. 19 from the EPA temporarily suspending the company from bidding on federal oil and natural gas contracts, and that, after an inquiry, W&T could possibly lose the right to bid for up to three years. The measures would affect future business but not existing deals.
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