In February, BOEMRE approved the first permit for deepwater drilling since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, granting Noble Energy Inc. a “permit to bypass” using the semisubmersible ENSCO 8501 (pictuired) for a well about 70 miles southeast of Venice, La. Since then, BOEMRE has approved a total of 135 deepwater permits requiring subsea containment for 40 unique wells, with 23 permits pending, and 16 permits returned to the operator with requests for additional information.

(Dow Jones) US offshore regulators are issuing deepwater drilling permits under new regulations like it was 2009–before the disastrous oil spill in the US Gulf of Mexico, fostering optimism among oil companies, say analysts with Simmons & Co.

Annualized rate for new well permits seen in the third quarter of 2011 is on par with the rate seen in 2009, and exceeds that of 2008; if sustained, that could mean three new rigs per quarter in the region over the next couple of quarters, Simmons analysts say.

“That being said, the present outlook for the deepwater GOM is unquestionably better than most would have envisioned 6 or 12 months ago,” the Simmons note says.

(c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc

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