NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- British oil producer BP has asked the U.S. government for a permit to drill four oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, officials said.
The application is the first for BP since the 2010 Macondo well blowout that fouled a wide swath of the Gulf Coast with more than 200 million gallons of crude and left 11 Deepwater Horizon oil platform workers dead.
BP said in the application it wants to sink four wells in nearly 6,000 feet of water about 250 miles off the Louisiana coast. Federal regulators have 30 days from Sept. 21 to evaluate the plan.
The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Sunday that oil industry analysts see the permit as a step in what has been a slow-moving process to get BP back in business in the gulf.
"They are taking it very, very slowly, so that the activity level is going to be quite low," said Mark Gilman of Benchmark Co. Gilman told The Times-Picayune he expected BP to tread lightly well into next year.
BP has not been completely sidelined in the gulf. The newspaper said the corporation held major stakes in current exploration projects led by Chevron and Noble Energy.
It was also announced last week that a drilling company working for BP had tapped into a reservoir estimated at 4 billion barrels of oil equivalent.