US Approves First Gulf Deepwater Well – And BP Is the Majority Owner
The Obama Administration approved the first deepwater drilling well permit for the Gulf of Mexico, 11 months after the BP oil disaster.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement announced Monday that it issued a permit to Noble Energy Inc. to continue work on its Santiago well about 70 miles southeast of Venice, La. Drilling will resume nearly one year after BP’s blowout created the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.
Noble started drilling the well four days before the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20. The project was put on hold on June 12 after the U.S. placed a moratorium on exploration in waters deeper than 500 feet.
“Noble Energy,” as it turns out, is not accurate. In fact, BP holds the largest stake in the well approved today.
Noble Energy also makes no mention of BP in its press release from yesterday. In announcing a major discovery in Mississippi Canyon Block 519, back in 2009, Noble spelled out the various ownership stakes, including BP’s — the largest single slice, with a 46.5 percent stake alongside Noble Energy’s 23.25 percent share.
So to recap, BP owns twice as much a stake in this well as Noble Energy, and yet the announcement of the permit says that Noble Energy received it. Noble operates the well, but BP is the biggest stakeholder, and as such could be the biggest voice in making key decisions about cost and safety. Reuters managed to mention this, unlike the AP.
“Given how the people of the Gulf view BP, this drilling partnership could be called ‘Noble meets ignoble’,” said Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee.
Markey acknowledged that the well meets all the new requirements from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. I’m not in a position to really confirm that. But suffice to say this – the team that brought you millions of gallons of oil a day spilling into the Gulf, is back drilling in the Gulf. We’ll see if they learned anything.
…oh by the way, the oil industry’s response to this was may I have another, without the “thank you sir” preceding it.