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BP wins rights to drill for oil in Gulf of Mexico

The company reached a deal on March 13 with the government that allows it to bid on drilling contracts so long as it has an EPA-approved auditor to keep watch on its safety and compliance.

The Trucker News Services

3/21/2014

BP has won the rights to drill for oil in 24 deepwater tracts in the Gulf of Mexico, The Hill reported.

The company’s high bids at a federal auction Wednesday in New Orleans totaled $41.6 million, according to The Associated Press.

The purchases came less than a week after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lifted a ban that had prevented the company from bidding on drilling contracts.

BP was suspended from the auctions in November 2012 after pleading guilty to criminal charges stemming from the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

The company reached a deal on March 13 with the government that allows it to bid on drilling contracts so long as it has an EPA-approved auditor to keep watch on its safety and compliance.

“As the nation’s largest energy investor, BP is committed to the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, where we have been an active player for a quarter century and have a multi-billion dollar investment program underway,” spokesman Brett Clanton said in a statement.

Freeport-McMoRan Oil & Gas spent $321.4 million in Wednesday’s auction for Gulf drilling leases, the highest of any company, the AP said.

States bordering the Gulf will share the revenue from nine of the leases. Those states will also share in a portion of the royalties from the oil.

For five years, BP will have to abide by a series of ethics, safety and other requirements. An independent auditor will also verify its compliance with the deal.

The company agreed Thursday to drop its lawsuit challenging the suspension, AP reported.

"Today's agreement will allow America's largest energy investor to compete again for federal contracts and leases," said John Minge, chairman and president of BP America, Inc., in a statement last week.

The new chair of the Senate Energy Committee, Sen. Mary Landrieu, praised the agreement.

"BP has rightly been held responsible in a court of law and should continue to make whole the individuals and businesses that were impacted by the oil spill, but barring them from entering new contracts on top of that amounted to double jeopardy and set a terrible precedent that I hope will not be repeated," said Landrieu, D-La.

Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen's Energy Program, criticized the move for letting BP "off the hook." The company "has failed to prove that it is a responsible contractor deserving of lucrative taxpayer deals," he said.

The April 2010 spill occurred after BP's Macondo well blew out, causing the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig to explode, killing 11 workers. Millions of gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf, with crude soiling shoreline and beaches from Louisiana to Florida.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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