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US Oks 6th Deepwater Drill Permit Since BP Spill

Source: Reuters 3/25/2011, Location: North America

Statoil has been awarded the sixth new permit to drill in deep waters of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico since last year's oil spill, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy said.

Statoil's permit authorizes a new well to be drilled in Alaminos Canyon Block 810 in water 7,134 feet (2,174 meters) deep, about 216 miles (348 km) off the Texas coast south of Texas City, the news release said.

Statoil received the permit after it complied with new drilling safety rules imposed by the agency after the BP Plc Deepwater Horizon blowout that killed 11 workers and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf.

"This permit is the sixth we have approved since Feb. 17, when industry demonstrated it had the capacity to handle subsea blowouts and spills," BOEM Director Michael Bromwich said in a news release.

"Some say we are now proceeding too quickly; some say we are still proceeding too slowly. The truth is we are proceeding as quickly as our resources allow to approve permit applications that satisfy our rigorous safety and environmental standards," Bromwich said.

The government imposed a moratorium on deep water drilling pending new permitting rules after the BP blowout at its Macondo project. The moratorium was lifted last fall but it has taken several months to resume issuing permits.

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