Chevron Gets Deepwater Approval in Gulf

Chevron (NYSE:CVX) has received approval to restart oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, the first completely new project since the deepwater drilling moratorium was lifted in the aftermath of BP’s (NYSE:BP) year-ago oil spill.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) said on Friday that Chevron had to satisfy rigorous new safety standards implemented in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill, including the ability to contain a subsea blowout.

Chevron’s approval, which is the fifth from BOEMRE that complies with the new standards, is related to a new well in Keathley Canyon Block 736, which is 216 miles off the Louisiana coastline and in 6,750 feet of water.

The San Ramon, Calif.-based oil explorer has inked a contract with the Marine Well Containment Corp. to use its capping stack to stop the flow of oil should a disaster mirror BP’s occur.

“Today’s permit approval further demonstrates industry’s ability to meet and satisfy the enhanced safety requirements associated with deepwater drilling, including the capability to contain a deepwater loss of well control and blowout,” said BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich. “We will continue to review and approve those applications that demonstrate the ability to operate safely in deep water.”

Initial drilling on the well began in March of last year, though it was halted in June 2010 due to the temporary suspensions imposed in the Gulf following the spill.