Monday, June 21, 2010

BP gets 10 new deepwater drilling leases in the Gulf

While waiting for the six month moratorium on granting new permits for offshore wells deeper than 500 feet to be lifted, the Department of Interior's Minerals Management Services, these guys, have approved five new offshore drilling projects since June 2.
An Exxon Mobil site at a water depth of 1,000 feet and a Marathon Oil site at 775 feet were approved with waivers exempting them from detailed studies of their environmental impact.
A Chevron site 6,730 feet underwater and an Exxon site at 6,943 feet were approved after subjecting them to environmental reviews.
The MMS has approved 198 new deepwater leases - the step before the submission of drilling plans - in the central Gulf since the BP spill began.
According to Defenders of Wildlife and the Southern Environmental Law Center, of the 198 deepwater leases sold, 92 lease tracts are at deeper depths than the Deepwater Horizon well and at least 10 are owned by BP and are located over a mile deep.
Lease Sale 213 covers 36 million acres in the central Gulf off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
If federal regulators opt to cancel a lease once it's issued, the government must repay the company the fair market value of the lease or compensate it for the cost of its bid plus interest.
So the Department of the Interior approves the leases, and then either the company gets to go ahead and drill or the taxpayer pays them not to ... with interest.
Pocket change you can believe in.

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