Now that US regulators have awarded the first 10 deepwater drilling permits since the Deepwater Horizon disaster -- Statoil received number 10 late last week -- don't expect a lot of fanfare from them about each subsequent approval. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, [Regulation and Enforcement, i.e., BOEMRE, the former Minerals Management Service -- D.R] said it would stop alerting reporters when it signs off on individual deepwater permits. You can still track them here.
The watch continues for these holders of the first 10 permits to get started:
Drilling permits approved
1. Noble Energy, February 28 -- [...] [drilling] a bypass well in 6,500 feet of water in Mississippi Canyon Block 519, about 70 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana. [An operator drills a bypass in order to drill around a mechanical problem in the original hole to the original geologic target from the existing wellbore. In this case, Noble Energy will be drilling around the plugs set in the original well when drilling was suspended in order to complete the project---please see BOEMRE, here. -- D.R]. Helix Well Containment Group. [Also, please see my related post, here. -- D.R.]
2. BHP Billiton, March [...]  -- resume pre-moratorium operation in 4,234 feet of water in Green Canyon Block 653, about 120 miles south of Houma, Louisiana. Helix Well Containment Group.
3. ATP Oil & Gas, March 18 -- resume [...] [operations/i.e., drill a new well -- D.R.] halted by the moratorium in 4,000 feet of water in Mississippi Canyon Block 941, about 90 miles south of Venice. [Initial drilling on ATP’s Well #4 began August 2008, in 4,000 feet water depth. Drilling was suspended July 2009, and a rig was on-location April 2010 to prepare for installation of a production facility when activities were suspended due to the temporary drilling suspensions imposed following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill---please see BOEMRE, here. -- D.R.] Helix Well Containment Group.
4. ExxonMobil, March 22 -- start drilling a well approved before the spill in 6,941 feet of water in the Keathley Canyon Block 919, about 240 miles south of Lafayette, Louisiana. Marine Well Containment Company.
5. Chevron, March 24 -- resume drilling started before Macondo in 6,750 feet of water in Keathley Canyon Block 736, about 215 miles [sic] south of Lafayette. Marine Well Containment Company.
6. Statoil, March 25 -- start drilling a well that had rig under contract before the spill in 7,134 feet of water in Alaminos Canyon Block 810, about 215 miles south of Texas City, Texas. Helix Well Containment Group.
7. Shell, March 30 -- new well and first permit under an exploration plan reviewed entirely after moratorium. Allows drilling in 2,721 feet of water in Garden Banks Block 427, about 140 miles south of Lafayette. Marine Well Containment Company.
8. Eni, April 1 -- sidetrack well that had rig on location before the moratorium. Allows drilling in 2,823 feet of water in Mississippi Canyon Block 460, about 60 miles southeast of Venice. Helix Well Containment Group.
9. Murphy Exploration & Production, April 7 -- sidetrack well that had rig on location before moratorium. Allows drilling in 3,325 feet of water in Green Canyon Block 338, about 170 miles southwest of New Orleans. Helix Well Containment Group.
10. Statoil, April 8 -- start drilling a well that had rig under contract before the spill in 7,813 feet of water in Walker Ridge Block 969, about 220 miles south of Houma. Marine Well Containment Company.
Exploration plans approved
1. Shell, March 21 -- three wells in 2,950 feet of water in the Auger field, about 130 miles offshore Louisiana. [Full story]
(All deep-water drilling must comply with new safety and environmental mandates imposed since the spill. Companies/Operators also must prove they can swiftly contain a blowout in deep water. Two companies -- Houston-based Helix Energy Solutions Group and the Exxon Mobil-led Marine Well Containment Company -- have developed systems including vessels and other equipment to capture oil from runaway deep-water wells. -- D.R.)