RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 20 BP Plc's oil
drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is approaching levels last seen
before its Macondo well ruptured and spewed millions of barrels
of crude in 2010, the company's vice president of global
deepwater response said on Thursday.
The executive, Richard Morrison, said on the sidelines of
the Rio Oil & Gas Conference that BP's drilling activity in the
U.S. Gulf was "close" to what it was before the blowout, which
caused explosions aboard Transocean Ltd's Deepwater
Horizon drilling rig and killed 11 men.
The U.S government halted drilling for six months after the
disaster, which gushed nearly 5 million barrels of oil and
fouled much of the U.S. Gulf Coast before BP capped the well two
years ago this week.
The moratorium was lifted in October 2010, but producers did
not resume drilling until regulators began awarding permits in
February 2011 when companies could meet stricter standards for
safety and oil spill response.
BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley told analysts in July that BP
had six rigs drilling in the Gulf and would have two more by the
end of 2012, a record for the company.
Earlier this month, Royal Dutch Shell Plc surpassed
BP as the biggest oil producer in the U.S. Gulf, according to
rankings by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental