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U.S. Approves Shell Deepwater Oil Drilling Plan

Date: 13-May-11
Country: USA
Author: Ayesha Rascoe

The U.S. offshore drilling regulator has approved a Royal Dutch Shell plan for deepwater oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.

Shell's exploration plan included five proposed exploratory wells more than 7,000 feet under water, as well as three previously approved wells about 72 miles from Louisiana .

Following last year's BP oil spill, the Obama administration implemented a raft of new requirements companies must meet before being allowed to drill offshore.

The Gulf oil spill and a subsequent temporary ban on deepwater drilling delayed many offshore projects. Deepwater drilling has gradually resumed since the administration began approving new permits in February, however.

"The standards are higher than they used to be, and further support our goal of ensuring that deepwater exploration is done more safely and with greater protections for the environment than ever before," Bureau of Ocean Energy Management head Michael Bromwich said in a statement.

To actually begin drilling, Shell will still need to apply for permits for each individual well.

The approval of Shell's Gulf exploration plan this week comes as the company revives its efforts to drill in the Arctic.

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