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Shell readies applications for Gulf of Mexico wells.

WASHINGTON: Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's biggest oil company, is preparing three exploration plans to meet new requirements for deep-water wells in the Gulf of Mexico after the Untied States lifted a drilling ban, a spokeswoman said yesterday.

Statoil, the Nordic region's biggest energy producer, has filed applications for two new wells since the moratorium ended on October 12, Tony Dore, head of Statoil's exploration unit in North America, said on Decemebr 10.

Drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet (152 metres) remains idle more than two months after US President Barack Obama ended the moratorium as regulators review compliance with environmental and safety rules imposed after BP's Macondo oil-well blast. The US received three applications for new wells subject to regulations introduced after the spill, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement said.

"It does remain to be seen how long it's going to take to get permits approved," Erik Milito, upstream director, American Petroleum Institute, said.

"The companies have the ability to move forward in a safe, environmentally responsible manner."

"Future drilling permits must first wait on approved exploration plans," Kelly op de Weegh, a spokeswoman for The Hague-based Shell, said in an e-mail yesterday.

Shell operated five rigs, more than any other company, in deep waters when Obama halted the activity following the Macondo explosion, the Interior Department said. The blast killed 11 workers, spewed crude for 87 days and shut a third of the Gulf to commercial fishing.

"The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement received three applications for new wells subject to regulations introduced after the spill," said Melissa Schwartz, spokeswoman for the agency. "Only one of these permits is for activity that was suspended under the moratorium, and has been returned to the operator because it was incomplete."

The agency also returned 11 other permits that were submitted to the agency prior to the lifting of the moratorium, Schwartz said.

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:0GULF
Date:Dec 20, 2010
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