Skip to comments.Feds approve BP’s offshore drilling plan
Posted on 10/21/2011 8:30:15 AM PDT by thackney
The federal government today approved BPs plans to drill new deep-water wells in the Gulf of Mexico, signing off on a broad offshore exploration plan for the first time since the lethal blowout of the companys Macondo well last year.
Federal regulators at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management okayed the British oil companys revisions to a previously approved drilling plan for its Kaskida prospect about 192 miles off the Louisiana coast. The move expands BPs government-approved 2008 plan to drill up to five wells at the site by allowing the company to drill two more wells and change the location of two others.
But before the company could launch work on the wells, federal regulators would also have to approve BPs plan for responding to any oil spills in the area. And under the just-approved revised exploration plan, BP would still have to secure separate permits to drill specific wells at the Kaskida field.
Offshore drilling regulators are dedicated to ensuring that the development of the nations energy resources is conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, said Tommy Beaudreau, the director of the Interior Departments Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which vetted the plan. Our review of BPs plan included verification of BPs compliance with the heightened standards that all deepwater activities must meet.
In approving BPs revised exploration plan, the ocean energy bureau assessed the environmental consequences of the proposed drilling and concluded there would likely be no significant impact from the work. Those environmental assessments generally required under federal law were routinely waived before the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
According to a news release announcing the move, the ocean energy bureau confirmed BPs compliance with new drilling safety and environmental standards imposed since last years spill.
The agency also said it had verified that BP would abide by relevant performance standards the company has pledged to voluntarily follow for any future drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Those safeguards go beyond federal requirements and include backup emergency equipment and engineer-witnessed testing of cement used in wells.
The company pledged to follow those voluntary safeguards in July, making a bid to reassure regulators and the public that it can resume safe offshore exploration and has learned the lessons of last years disaster.
Although this is the first BP exploration plan to win government approval since the 2010 oil spill, federal regulators separately have approved 43 others. Each generally describes all of the exploration activities an operator plans on a specific lease or group of them, with anticipated drilling times, descriptions of drilling vessels and the exact location of each planned well. Only after those broad drilling blueprints are okayed, can companies seek permits to drill specific wells on the same offshore tracts.
While BP has not drilled a new well since the 2010 oil spill, several of its Gulf projects have quietly moved forward. For instance, the Mad Dog South field, which BP operates with a 60.5 percent stake, recently was drilled by minority partner BHP Billiton Petroleum and proved to have a giant stash of oil. Last year, BP essentially transferred the operatorship of its Tubular Bells field to Hess Corp. in a $40 million deal that cut its stake in the field from 50 percent to 30 percent.
BP owns 100 percent of Kaskida after buying out Devons 30 percent stake in a $7 billion deal that included other assets in March 2010 the month before the Macondo well blowout.
BP announced the discovery of its Kaskida field in August 2006 after drilling a six-mile-deep well in an outer area of the U.S. Gulf known as Keathley Canyon and finding an 800-foot section of oily rock.
While the discovery was viewed as significant, it wasnt until an appraisal well was drilled five miles to the west in 2009 that BP confirmed it was among its biggest finds ever in the U.S. offshore basin, holding as much as 3 billion barrels of oil.
At the time, BP was on a roll in the Gulf, having also just discovered a separate field called Tiber, which has been estimated at roughly the same size as Kaskida. Both are in an ancient layer of rocks that geologists call the Lower Tertiary trend, where Chevron, Shell and others also have made major oil discoveries in recent years.
BP America Inc., announced today an oil discovery on an exploration well which tested the Kaskida prospect in the Gulf of Mexico. The well, located on Keathley Canyon block 292, is in about 5,860 feet of water and is about 250 miles southwest of New Orleans. Kaskida was drilled to a total depth of approximately 32,500 feet in the lower tertiary and encountered 800 net feet of hydrocarbon-bearing sands.
So, what’s the deal? They drive out all the other oil companies and all the offshore rigs, and then they give it to BP, which caused the trouble in the first place by trying to take a foolish shortcut?
Must be that $10 billion slush fund BP gave Obama to buy him off.
New permits for others do continue to trickle in.
This was just the first deep water plan approved for BP.
So, despite the headline, obama still stands in the way of drilling in the Gulf.
You didn’t actually think those folks only make the oil industry jump through a single hoop did you?
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