Noble Receives First Deepwater Drilling Permit Since BP Oil Spill

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–U.S. officials have approved the first permit for deepwater drilling since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, granting Noble Energy Inc. (NBL) a so-called “permit to bypass” for a well about 70 miles southeast of Venice, La.

The permit for Noble Energy marks a major milestone in the oil and gas industry’s attempts to restart operations in the Gulf of Mexico after the April 2010 explosion at the BP PLC (BP, BP.LN) Macondo well unleashed the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Initial drilling on Noble Energy’s well began in April 2010, in 6,500 feet of water. The activities were suspended in June under a temporary ban on deepwater drilling following the spill.

–By Tennille Tracy, Dow Jones Newswires

UPDATE:  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) approved Noble Energy’s application for a permit to bypass is for Well #2 in Mississippi Canyon Block 519.

As part of its approval process, the bureau reviewed Noble Energy’s containment capability available for the specific well proposed in the permit application. Noble Energy contracted with the Helix Well Containment Group (Helix) to use its capping stack to stop the flow of oil should a well control event occur. The capabilities of the capping stack meet the requirements that are specific to the characteristics of the proposed well.

The approved permit allows the drilling of a bypass well. An operator drills a bypass in order to drill around a mechanical problem in the original hole to the original geologic target from the existing wellbore. In this case, Noble Energy will be drilling around the plugs set in the original well when drilling was suspended in order to complete the project.