BP Set to Expand Gulf of Mexico Drilling

GULF SHORES, AL- JULY 04: A slick of oil is seen on the beach after it washed ashore from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on July 4, 2010 in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The oil spill may have a huge negative economic impact on gulf coast businesses during what should be a busy 4th of July. Millions of gallons of oil have spilled into the Gulf since the April 20 explosion on the drilling platform. 
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Clare Foran
March 19, 2014, 10:07 a.m.

Nearly four years after the in­fam­ous Gulf of Mex­ico oil spill, BP is ex­pand­ing its foot­print in the Gulf of Mex­ico.

The Brit­ish oil and gas gi­ant won 24 out of 31 bids entered in an In­teri­or De­part­ment off­shore drilling lease sale held Wed­nes­day, the first time the com­pany has been al­lowed to par­ti­cip­ate in an auc­tion­ing off of Gulf wa­ters since its 16-month fed­er­al con­tract sus­pen­sion ended. BP will pay out more than $41 mil­lion for the rights to ex­plore for oil and gas along the Out­er Con­tin­ent­al Shelf. 50 oil and gas com­pan­ies placed bids to lease cent­ral Gulf wa­ters with 1.7 mil­lion acres off the coast of Louisi­ana, Mis­sis­sippi and Alabama auc­tioned off dur­ing the sale. 

For over a year, BP was barred from par­ti­cip­a­tion in fed­er­al lease sales in the Gulf, a ver­dict handed down in the wake of the 2010 Deep­wa­ter Ho­ri­zon oil spill. The sus­pen­sion was lif­ted last week when the com­pany reached an agree­ment with the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency. Now that deal is pav­ing the way for the com­pany’s ex­pan­sion in­to cent­ral Gulf wa­ters.

The news ar­rives amid linger­ing skep­ti­cism from pub­lic health and en­vir­on­ment­al safety ad­voc­ates who ques­tion wheth­er BP should be al­lowed to grow its base of op­er­a­tions in Gulf wa­ters.

“BP has not ad­dressed the cul­tur­al prob­lems that led to the ban in the first place,” Tyson Slo­cum, the dir­ect­or of watch­dog or­gan­iz­a­tion Pub­lic Cit­izen’s en­ergy pro­gram, said last week when the ban on BP was lif­ted.


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