BOEMRE issues second deepwater drilling permit to BHP Billiton

By Phaedra Friend Troy

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement issued the second deepwater drilling permit in the US Gulf of Mexico since the Macondo accident last April.

According to a report from Reuters, the BOEMRE has issued a deepwater drilling permit to Australian firm BHP Billiton for the resumption of drilling a production well at its Shenzi development.

Located on Green Canyon Block 609, 610, 653 and 654, the Shenzi development is off the coast of Louisiana in waters measuring 4,300 feet deep. Developed with a standalone TLP, Shenzi began production with seven production wells in March 2009, achieving a sustained production rates of 120,000 barrels of oil a day within the year.

More production wells were planned to be drilled over time to sustain production levels on the development.

The well that received the drilling was in the process of being drilled when the Macondo accident occurred and was stopped when the deepwater drilling moratorium was enacted.

BHP Billiton is the operator of Shenzi with 44 percent interest. Project partners include Hess Corporation and Repsol with 28 percent each.

The first deepwater drilling permit since the April 2010 accident was issued to Noble Energy for a bypass well on Mississippi Canyon Block 519 in February 2011.

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