Tuesday, October 12, 2010

White House Signals Deepwater Drilling Ban to End Soon

Top Obama administration officials signaled Tuesday that a moratorium on deepwater oil drilling could end "very soon," but it's unclear how quickly idled oil rigs could go back to work in the Gulf of Mexico. The Interior Department scheduled a 1 p.m. EDT news conference to discuss what it said would be an announcement on "the current suspensions on deepwater drilling." White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Tuesday that the Interior Department will lift its moratorium on deep water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico "very soon," likely this week. Asked if he was saying the ban will be lifted this week, Gibbs said: "I do."

But the government's top offshore drilling regulator, Michael Bromwich, separately told reporters during an event across town that it is unlikely companies could resume drilling immediately, even when the moratorium is lifted. Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, said his agency will need to time to carefully vet companies' applications to ensure they comply with new safety and environmental regulations established since the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and the subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He emphasized that the pace of approvals will depend on......Read the entire article.

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