11 deepwater drilling permits issued since disaster - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

11 deepwater drilling permits issued since disaster

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(Source: Incident News) (Source: Incident News)

(RNN) - For as long as they live, residents along the Gulf Coast will never forget the day an oil rig 50 nautical miles off the coast of the Mississippi Delta exploded.

April 20, 2010 was the first of an 87-day crisis at the Macondo Well, which BP America purchased the mineral rights to in 2008.

Oil Spill By The Numbers

2008: Year BP purchased the mineral rights to the Macondo well.

50: Nautical mile distance from the Macondo well to the Mississippi River Delta.

11: Workers killed in the explosion.

19: Number of children left fatherless by the explosion.

5,067: Foot depth of water at which the oil spill occurred, or almost 1 mile. The depth is roughly equivalent to five Eiffel towers end-to-end.

3: Days it took for oil to stop pouring from the well after the capping stack was put in place July 12.

87:  Days the oil spill lasted.

47,829: Responders at the peak of the spill.

42: Gallons of oil in one barrel.

62,000: Barrels per day spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.

53,000: Barrels per day spilled into the gulf just prior to the well being capped.

4.9 million: Total barrels of oil released into the Gulf of Mexico.

1.4 million: Barrels of liquid waste collected.

92: Tons of solid waste collected.

800,000: Barrels of oily water collected.

1.07 million: Gallons of dispersants applied.

265,000: Barrels removes by more than 400 in-situ burns.

20 billion: Dollar amount BP agreed to pay the U.S. government for the disaster.

Sources: Assessment of Flow Rate Estimates for the Deepwater Horizon/Macondo Well Oil Spill and Restore the Gulf.

Three-hundred sixty-six days and 4.9 million barrels of discharged oil later, the Gulf Coast is still in recovery mode as the oil industry itself moves forward.

Back to work

Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Oct. 12, 2010 that deepwater drilling could resume provided operators meet new regulations and guidelines. Chief among those was a requirement that drilling company CEOs personally certify that the operator has complied with all regulations.

"At this point we believe the strengthened safety measures we have implemented, along with improved spill response and blowout containment capabilities, have reduced risks to a point where operators who play by the rules and clear the higher bar can be allowed to resume," Salazar said then in a news release.

The news was a sigh of relief to politicians like New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu because the oil industry is a major employer. A study by the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University claimed that the moratorium had unparalleled economic implications, saying that 40,000 jobs had been "placed in jeopardy."

"For people in Louisiana, both the oil and gas industries and the ecosystem have lived together for generations," he said. "And they are vital to our economy."

Reforms

President Barack Obama began the oil industry reform process when he renamed the Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service as the Bureau of Ocean Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) in June 2010.

Under additional reforms made by new leader Michael R. Bromwhich, those who run deepwater drilling operations must now prove that they can handle a potential blowout.

A new rule forces drilling permit applicants to comply with enhanced standards for well-design, casing and cementing, according to BOEMRE. Additionally, permits must be certified by a professional engineer.

"We are strengthening drilling standards in the exploration and development stages, for equipment, safety practices, environmental safeguards, and oversight," writes BOEMRE on its website.

Additional requirements include a corporate compliance statement and review of subsea blowout containment resources, as well as measures to ensure the safety of on-site workers.

[For more information about reforms, click here.]

New permits and signs of profits

Since the disaster, 11 new deepwater drilling permits have been issued by BOEMRE, according to CNN.

"Permit applications that satisfy our more rigorous safety and environmental standards and that demonstrate the necessary containment capabilities will be approved; those that do not will be rejected," said BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwhich, when a 10th deepwater drilling permit was approved April 8. 

"That has been our approach and will continue to be our approach," he said.

Whatever the case, the oil industry seems to be holding its own. In its annual 20-F filing with the SEC, BP Plc announced a spike in fourth-quarter profits for 2010 and said it would be able to start paying dividends to stockholders again in March.

Additionally, since the New Year commenced, the company's stock has held consistently above the $450 mark, slipping below that level just once on March 15.

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