ATP Resumes Drilling In US Gulf Deep-Water

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–Offshore explorer ATP Oil & Gas Corp. (ATPG) has resumed drilling at its Telemark field in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the first deepwater projects to get back on track since this activity was halted by U.S. regulators in response to BP PLC’S (BP, BP.LN) oil spill.

In an interview with Dow Jones Newswires on the sidelines of an energy conference here, Chief Financial Officer Al Reese Jr. and President Leland Tate said the well, which sits in about 4,000 feet of water, should begin producing this summer.

Houston-based ATP is one of two companies, along with Norway’s Statoil ASA (STO), to receive two deepwater Gulf of Mexico drilling permits since U.S. regulators resumed issuing them in late February.

In addition to the Telemark well, that field’s third, ATP received a permit to complete its Clipper well in the West Green Canyon.

Tate said ATP has also applied for a permit to drill a fourth Telemark well and expects to have regulators approval to begin that project within 60 days. Beyond that, ATP plans to apply for permits to drill three additional deepwater wells through 2012, Tate said.

ATP operates 18 deepwater wells, the fourth most after Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA.L), BP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC). Tate said that the company has adapted to new regulatory requirements put in place in response to BP’s spill and learned how to navigate a more complex permitting process.

“The process is starting to be understood,” Tate said, though drilling permits won’t come from regulators as easily as they once did.

“It won’t get back to the pace it was at because it’s more difficult,” he said.

Shares of ATP recently traded 0.88% lower at $16.97.

-By Ryan Dezember, Dow Jones Newswires

Photo: ATP Titan platform in U.S. Gulf of Mexico