Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced yesterday that the U.S. Department of the Interior will not approve any new permits for offshore oil and gas drilling until Interior completes a safety review requested by President Obama in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion and oil spill. Interior will deliver its safety review to the president by May 28, Interior said.
The halt on new drilling permits does not apply to the two relief wells that BP is drilling to staunch the flow of oil from the out-of-control well in the Gulf.
The U.S. Minerals Management Service has notified Shell of the situation — Shell will need MMS drilling permits to drill its planned exploration wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas during this year’s open water season.
“MMS Director Liz Birnbaum sent a letter today to Shell Oil Company President Marvin Odum confirming that MMS will not make a final decision on the requested permits for the drilling of exploration wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas until the Department of the Interior’s report to the president has been submitted and evaluated,” Interior said May 5.
Editor’s note: See story in May 16 issue of Petroleum News, available online to subscribers on Friday, May 14 at www.PetroleumNews.com.