HOUSTON, April 30 BP Plc has five
drilling rigs running in the Gulf of Mexico two years after its
Macondo oil spill, and the company aims to add three more by the
end of 2012, the company's head of development said on Monday.
Bernard Looney, executive vice president of developments at
BP's London headquarters, told executives at the annual Offshore
Technology Conference in Houston that the drilling will include
exploratory, appraisal and production wells.
Last October, U.S. regulators granted BP its first permit to
drill a new well since the largest offshore spill in U.S.
history, which spewed more than 4 million barrels of crude into
the basin in 2010.
The spill gushed after the Macondo well blew out, causing
explosions aboard the Transocean's Deepwater Horizon
rig that killed 11 men.
The permit was for a well in BP's Kaskida field after
regulators were satisfied that BP's well design and safety
practices met more stringent post-spill standards.
Kaskida was a 2006 discovery that could hold up to 3 billion
barrels of oil. The other permits are split between BP's
established Thunder Horse and Atlantis fields.
Looney did not say where the three additional rigs would
drill, but ConocoPhillips Chief Financial Officer Jeff
Sheets told analysts last week that the operator of the Tiber
field -- which is BP -- was "anticipating" an appraisal well
this year. ConocoPhillips is a minority partner in Tiber.
BP described the Tiber discovery in late 2009 as "giant" and
said it could be comparable to Kaskida. The company had aimed to
drill an appraisal well in Tiber in 2010, but a months-long ban
on drilling after the Macondo spill blocked that plan.