By Richard Blackden
Royal Dutch Shell has won approval to drill the first new deepwater oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico almost a year after a spill by rival BP halted the industry’s expansion.
US authorities have given the green light to the Anglo-Dutch company’s plan to drill three wells to a depth of about 2,950 feet in a field 130 miles off the coast of Louisana.
Shell will still be required to apply for specific permits for each well it drills.
The award is significant because the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) has so far only handed out a small number of deepwater permits to resume work on wells on which work had started before last April’s explosion at BP’s Macondo well.
The authorities said on Monday that under new regulations brought in since the spill, Shell had been required to assess the environmental impact of each new well, rather than just the whole field.