The U.S. federal government on Friday approved British oil giant BP's plan to drill new deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico.
The project would be BP's first such well in the Gulf since last year's explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that killed 11 workers and unleashed the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said Friday it had given the nod to BP's exploration plan (EP) for drilling up to four wells in the deepwater Keathley Canyon in water that is more than 1,800 meters deep and located about 300 km off the Louisiana coast.
BP's exploration plan was the latest of 44 approved since tougher regulations were implemented following the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year, according to the BOEM.
BP still needs to get further permission before starting drilling.
The BOEM confirmed BP's compliance with new drilling safety and environmental standards implemented since the BP spill. x "Before approving this EP, BOEM confirmed BP's compliance with the bureau's rigorous, heightened standards established following the Deepwater Horizon tragedy," the agency said in a news release.
"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," it said.
BP's Macondo well ruptured after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank on April 20 last year, spewing up to 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf for nearly three months in the world's worst marine oil spill. Tougher safety and environmental standards were imposed after the lethal incident.