The Obama Administration had imposed a deep water drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill. Critics of the moratorium have said that there exists a "defacto moratorium" despite Salazar's lifting of the deep water oil drilling restrictions and that the past moratorium has seriously curtailed driling.
Here is the balance of the Department of Interior Press release:
“Today’s announcement is an important step in our continued efforts to ensure oil and gas producers operate responsibly,” said Secretary Salazar. “This will serve to confirm that oil and gas companies are accountable and responsible for their operations as we work to strengthen safety, oversight and environmental protection at every stage of the drilling process.”
“It is extremely important for operators to provide assurances that they comply with all rules and regulations that apply to offshore drilling, and that they would have access to equipment needed to handle a deepwater blowout. These are obvious but important elements of our overall review and evaluation of deepwater drilling permit applications,” said Director Bromwich. “I look forward to continued discussions with industry representatives - from the large, multinational companies to the smaller, independent operators – as we work together to ensure the safe and environmentally responsible development of the Outer Continental Shelf.”
Effective immediately, each operator seeking to drill in deep water must submit a statement signed by an authorized company official that asserts that the operator has complied with all regulations, including the new drilling safety rule.
The NTL also confirms that BOEMRE will be evaluating whether each operator has submitted adequate information to demonstrate that it has access to, and can deploy, subsea blowout containment resources that would be significant enough to promptly respond to a deepwater blowout or other loss of well control. This information is relevant to the evaluation of operators’ compliance with current spill response regulations.
Today’s NTL provides guidance for these requirements through clarifications of current federal regulations, which may be supplemented by future rulemaking. This NTL applies to operators conducting operations using subsea blowout preventers (BOPs) or surface BOPs on floating facilities.
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