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Is Deepwater Drilling Back? Not So Fast

Investors should be cautious to read too much into Noble Energy’s permit approval.

We’re likely to see the moratorium lifted on more of the 16 wells in the Gulf of Mexico (operated by 13 different companies) that have been under the moratorium since last year. But this is not necessarily a shift in the Obama administration’s offshore drilling policy.

“It’s more of a clarification for companies that fell into the gray category of drilling new wells that had already been approved when the moratorium was put in place,” says Clearview Energy’s Kevin Book.

It looks good to appear to have restarted offshore drilling in light of high oil prices, but this is not back to business as usual for offshore drillers.

Getting a NEW offshore oil drilling permit is still very difficult. According to Clearview Energy Partners: “Not only does it appear that each new permit will require a site-specific environmental assessment, but the first deep water permit may still require a new, or supplemental, environmental impact statement — a process that could take anywhere from three to nine months, or longer.”

CNBC Data Pages:

CNBC Slideshows:


Deepwater Drilling—The Players:

Noble Corp.*

*a different corporate entity than Noble Energy

Diamond Offshore