GOM Shallow Drilling to Continue Despite News to Contrary



The U.S. Interior Department will continue to issue shallow water drilling permits for the Gulf of Mexico, contrary to a report in the Washington Post earlier today that the Obama administration would block all new drilling permits for the Gulf.

While the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in over 500 feet of water in the Gulf remains, oil and gas operators will be allowed to pursue shallow drilling as long as they satisfy the environmental and safety requirements outlined by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in his report to President Obama, an Interior Department spokesperson said today.  In order to meet those new requirements, operators will apparently be required to resubmit drilling plans and refile for permits to drill. 
 
According to a Washington Post report earlier today, the Minerals Management Service said in an email that no new permits would be issued for drilling in the Gulf, regardless of water depth.
 
Salazar on May 27 issued the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling and on new deepwater drilling permits being issued in response to the April 20 tragedy involving the BP-operated Transocean rig Deepwater Horizon, which sank after experiencing a blowout and fire that killed 11 workers. Salazar also canceled a pending Gulf of Mexico lease sale, a proposed lease sale offshore Virginia, and exploratory drilling proposed by Shell in Alaska.
 
The federal government today sent BP a $69 million bill, asking the company to reimburse the government for spill response and recovery work.