U.S. emphatic: no deal to let BP resume drilling

Energy Reuters

MEXICO CITY/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. interior secretary on Monday rejected media reports that BP was striking a deal to resume deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico a year after the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

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UK media have said BP is in talks with the U.S. government to restart drilling at existing wells less than a year after a blast on the Deepwater Horizon rig ruptured BP's underwater Macondo well, unleashing millions of barrels of oil.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called that a "misconception" and a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management regulator said "there are no ongoing negotiations".

"There is absolutely no such agreement nor would there be such an agreement" with BP to resume drilling, Salazar said at a briefing while visiting the Mexican capital.

He added that the company would need to go through the same process to resume drilling as other companies.

U.S. legal probes into the accident are ongoing, but a presidential commission earlier this year released a report blaming the disaster on systemic safety lapses and a series of mistakes made by BP and its contractors.

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Months after lifting a temporary ban on deepwater drilling, the bureau has begun approving permits for such activity, greenlighting more than a handful of projects in the past few weeks.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg and Roberta Rampton, writing by Ayesha Rascoe; editing by John Picinich and Dale Hudson)

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