* To get permit ATP met new safety requirements
* Approval shows deepwater drilling will continue-Bromwich
(Adds details of drilling permit, comment from govt official)
WASHINGTON, March 18 The U.S. Interior
Department said on Friday it approved a deepwater drilling
permit for ATP Oil & Gas Corp ATPG.O, the third such permit
cleared by the government for the Gulf of Mexico since the BP
oil spill last year.
The permit is for ATP to drill a new well at an existing
location, known as the Mississippi Canyon Block 941 site, in
4,000 feet of water located 90 miles south of Venice,
To get its new permit, ATP met new safety requirements
imposed by the government after the spill. ATP contracted with
Helix Well Containment Group to use its capping stack to stop
any oil flow that may result from an accident at the well.
"This permit approval demonstrates that deepwater drilling
can and will continue in the Gulf of Mexico, provided that
operators have successfully demonstrated their ability to
operate safely," said Michael Bromwich, the U.S. regulator of
However, many U.S. lawmakers have accused the Interior
Department of moving too slow in approving drilling permits for
the Gulf of Mexico since a ban on deepwater drilling was lifted
Initial drilling at the site took place in August 2008.
Drilling was suspended in July 2009 and a rig was at the site
in April 2010 to prepare for installing a production facility.
Operations were the suspended following the BP oil spill.
(Reporting by Tom Doggett and Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by
Walter Bagley) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; + 1 202
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