* Chevron to drill 216 miles offshore at depth of 6,750 ft
* Permit for field that hasn't produced oil, natgas
(Adds comment from Chevron and offshore drilling trade
WASHINGTON, March 24 Chevron (CVX.N) on
Thursday received the first U.S. permit to drill a complete
exploratory well for oil or gas in a new deepwater reservoir
since the end of the drilling moratorium that followed the BP
(BP.L) oil spill.
The Interior Department issued Chevron a revised permit to
finish drilling a well it began in March but had to suspend in
June due to the spill.
The well is in offshore tracts the company leased in the
Keathley Canyon Block 736, 6,750 feet (2,057 meters) deep and
about 216 miles (348 km) off the Louisiana coastline.
This will be the first exploratory well completely drilled
in this field, which was has never produced oil or gas, the
Initial drilling on the Chevron well began in March 2010,
but operations were suspended in June due to the drilling
moratorium imposed by the Obama administration. The permit will
allow for completion of the exploratory well in the new
It is also the fifth deepwater drilling permit approved by
the department since the BP oil spill.
"We are encouraged that the backlog of permit applications
is slowly growing smaller, and that some of our member
companies who were sidelined for the past year will soon get
back to work in the Gulf," said Randall Luthi, president of the
National Ocean Industries Association, the trade group that
represent companies involved in offshore drilling.
Chevron had to meet new safety rules imposed in the
aftermath of last summer's massive oil spill. Chevron
contracted with the Marine Well Containment Corp to use its
capping stack to stop major underwater oil leaks.
Reporting by Tom Doggett; additional reporting by Braden
Reddall; Editing by David Gregorio and Lisa Shumaker)