The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) this week approved a supplemental exploration plan (EP) submitted by BP for deepwater oil and gas activities. BOEM conducted a site-specific environmental assessment (EA) of the activities described in the plan. This is the 44th plan that has been approved following the completion of a site-specific EA since new regulations were implemented in June 2010. Prior to any drilling under the plan, BP must obtain drilling permits from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which will continue to assess the information.
The supplemental EP proposes to drill up to four wells in the Gulf of Mexico’s Keathley Canyon Blocks 292 and 336, which BP acquired in lease sales in 1997 and 2003. The water depths at the proposed well sites are approximately 6,000 ft and are located 192 miles from the nearest Louisiana shoreline.
This is the first EP that BP has had approved since the Macondo blowout. Before approving this EP, BOEM confirmed BP’s compliance with the bureau’s standards. In July 2011, BP announced additional safety enhancements and performance standards they would voluntarily implement in connection with its deepwater drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. BOEM has verified that BP has met the relevant voluntary performance standards.
“Our review of BP’s plan included verification of BP’s compliance with the heightened standards that all deepwater activities must meet,” BOEM director Tommy Beaudreau said.