Limited Gulf Deep-Water Drilling Gets Close

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Obama administration Monday outlined plans to allow deep-water drilling to resume in the Gulf of Mexico on a limited basis.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement issued a statement saying it's notified 13 companies they may be able to resume activities that had already received approval before the oil spill occurred at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig owned by BP plc ( BP) on April 20, 2010.

The companies are ATP Oil & Gas ( ATPG), BHP Billiton ( BHP), Chevron Corp. ( CVX), Cobalt International Energy ( CIE), ENI, Hess Corp. ( HES), Kerr-McGee ( KMG), Marathon Oil ( MRO), Murphy Oil ( MUR), Noble Energy ( NBL), Shell Offshore, Statoil USA, and Walter Oil & Gas Corp..

" 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," said BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich in a statement. "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."

The projects in question will have to comply with heightened safety requirements under the government's new policies and regulations that have been put in place since the spill took place.

Drilling could resume "within a matter of weeks" according to a Wall Street Journal report on the development. Eleven people died in the Deepwater explosion, which prompted the government to put a six-month moratorium on new wells. The moratorium was lifted in October, but no new permits have been issued as yet.

-- Written by Michael Baron in New York.

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