WASHINGTON, May 19 (UPI) -- Norwegian energy company Statoil received approval to explore for oil and natural gas in the deep waters off the Texas coast, U.S. regulators said.
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement awarded Statoil's plans for two wells in the Gulf of Mexico, the Platts news service reports. The two wells are located about 130 miles off the coast of Texas in more than 7,200 feet of water.
Statoil needs to get drilling permits for each of the two wells in the Alaminos Canyon area before it can start an exploration program.
The BOEMRE is slowly letting oil and gas explorers back into the Gulf of Mexico. Washington in October lifted a moratorium on work in the gulf after BP managed to stop a massive oil spilled triggered by the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform.
Statoil is a member of the non-profit Marine Well Containment Co. set up in the wake of the spill. The 10 members of the MWCC operated approximately 70 percent of deep-water wells drilled in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico from 2007-09.
An interim response system developed by the MWCC can operate in water depths of 8,000 feet and could contain as much as 60,000 barrels of fluid per day in the event of a spill.