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BP looks to get back into deep-water drilling in Gulf of Mexico

September 26, 2011 |  8:38 am

Deepwater

After lying low in the Gulf of Mexico for about a year, British oil giant BP has taken steps to get back into the deep-water oil exploration game off the Louisiana coast, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

The April 20, 2010, blowout at the oil company's Macondo well killed 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and resulted in the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Environmental groups urged the federal government to permanently ban new offshore oil exploration and development, but such calls were blasted as naive by the oil industry and its supporters, who noted that 29% of domestic crude comes from the gulf.

The Obama administration temporarily banned deep-water drilling to review safety measures, angering gulf lawmakers who said the ban would economically damage their states.

The ban was lifted in October.

Last week, BP filed its first deep-water exploration plan for the gulf since the spill, proposing to drill four wells 5,800 feet below the ocean's surface, the Times-Picayune's Richard Thompson reported.

Federal regulators have until Oct. 21 to consider the plan.

Thompson notes that BP has teamed with other companies in other gulf oil ventures, including a Chevron oil discovery in which BP has a 44% stake. Another company, BHP Billiton, recently drilled a successful "appraisal well" in an offshore field on BP's behalf.

Earlier this month, a federal investigation found that BP and the two other companies involved in drilling at the Macondo site violated federal safety regulations leading up to the oil spill, reserving much of the blame for BP, which the report said was "ultimately responsible" for operations and safety on the rig.

RELATED:

Gulf to open up for oil and gas leases

BP, contractors violated safety rules, inquiry finds

Halliburton sues BP over Gulf of Mexico oil well explosion

-- Richard Fausset in Atlanta

Photo: Fire boats battle the blazing remnants of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon off the Louisiana coast in April 2010. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

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