The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) approved a supplemental Exploration Plan (EP) submitted by BP for deepwater oil and gas activities. BOEM conducted a site-specific Environmental Assessment (EA) of the activities described in the plan. This is the 44th plan that has been approved following the completion of a site-specific EA since stronger regulations were implemented in June 2010. Prior to any drilling under the plan, BP must obtain drilling permits from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), which will continue to assess the information that is necessary to allow specific activities.
This is the first EP that BP has had approved since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill. Before approving this EP, BOEM confirmed BP’s compliance with the bureau’s rigorous, heightened standards established following the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. In July 2011, BP announced additional safety enhancements and performance standards they would voluntarily implement in connection with its deepwater drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. BOEM has verified that BP has met the relevant voluntary performance standards.
“BOEM is dedicated to ensuring that the development of the nation’s energy resources is conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner,” said BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau. “Our review of BP’s plan included verification of BP’s compliance with the heightened standards that all deepwater activities must meet.”
The supplemental EP proposes to drill up to four wells in the Gulf of Mexico’s Keathley Canyon Blocks 292 and 396, which BP acquired in lease sales in 1997 and 2003. An EP describes all exploration activities planned by an operator on a specific lease or leases, including the anticipated timing of these activities, information concerning drilling vessels, the location of each planned well, and other relevant information. The water depth at the proposed well sites range from 6,019 to 6,034 ft and are located 192 miles from the nearest Louisiana shoreline.