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Mar 1, 2011 2:28 AM by Jim Hummel

Drilling Permit Hailed as 'Policy Breakthrough'

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) announced Monday that it has approved the first deep-water drilling permit in the Gulf of Mexico since last year's oil disaster in the Gulf.

"It's certainly a policy breakthrough," said Scott Angelle, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.

Angelle was in Washington D.C. this week to meet with BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich about the obstacles affecting deep-water drilling permits.

"The simple fact is that it all starts with the issuance of a permit," said Angelle who was cautiously optimistic about Monday's progress, noting there are still obstacles in the way.

Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association said growing liability caps, which impact insurance rates, are among the obstacles still faced by companies in the oil and gas industry.

"Companies are working through it, but it's been a long haul," said Briggs.

Meantime the permit issued Monday was to Nobel Energy Inc., which will operate a well 70 miles southeast of Venice.

"This permit was issued for one simple reason: the operator successfully demonstrated that it can drill its deepwater well safely and that it is capable of containing a subsea blowout if it were to occur," noted Bromwich in a news release. "We expect further deepwater permits to be approved in coming weeks and months based on the same process that led to the approval of this permit."

Jim Hummel

Material from the Associated Press was included in this report.

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