By Katarzyna Klimasinska
Jan. 13 (Bloomberg) — The overhaul of U.S. oil-drilling regulations, while “far from complete,” won’t slow the review of applications from producers seeking to resume exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, the industry’s regulator said.
“We will implement reforms necessary to make offshore oil and gas production safer,” Michael R. Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, said today in a Washington speech. “The processing of drilling permit applications and proposed drilling plans will not be delayed while these additional reforms are developed.”
The agency has yet to issue a permit for the type of exploration banned by a moratorium on deep-water drilling imposed after the April 20 blowout of the BP Plc well off the Louisiana coast. At stake is development in a region that produces more oil than the U.K., Qatar or Indonesia, and pumped $35.3 billion in crude in 2009.
The Obama administration will add measures regarding blowout preventers, remotely operated vehicles and workplace safety, Bromwich said in his speech.
Bromwich sought to tamp down what he called “significant anxiety” among companies, trade groups and lawmakers concerned that the agency has other requirements “up our sleeve.”
“Barring significant, unanticipated revelations from investigations into the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon explosion that remain in process, I do not anticipate further emergency rulemakings,” Bromwich said in his remarks.
The regulator isn’t delaying permits until the second half, Bromwich said, answering a question about whether the agency will wait until the third or fourth quarter. He didn’t elaborate on the timing of issuing permits.
The agency is “thoroughly reviewing” the report of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, which recommended further reorganization of drilling oversight in its findings published Jan. 11, he said.