BP Owns Almost Half of Approved Deep-Water Well


BP owns nearly half of the deep-water well that the Interior Department approved on Monday, National Journal has learned.

BP, whose Macondo well exploded in April and caused the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, owns 46.5 percent of the newly approved well. Noble Energy, which operates the well, has 23 percent ownership. A spokesman for Noble confirmed BP’s share of the well – the largest of the four companies that have a vested interest. Because Noble is the operator, it applied for the permit. Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement, announced on Monday that Interior has approved the application.

“The BOEMRE approved this permit to Noble Energy as the operator, and we certainly think they are aware of the effort that we have put in our spill containment and response,” said Brad Whitmarsh, manager of investor relations at Noble Energy. “I think they noted Noble Energy’s efforts significantly in their release and conference call.”

Whitmarsh would not comment on BP’s involvement in the well. “Noble is the designated operator so we are the ones responsible for all the technical and drilling work,” he said.

The other two companies with a working interest in the well are Houston Exploration and Red Willow.

A spokeswoman for Bromwich reiterated what he said in his announcement – that the operator had proven itself capable of safely drilling a deep-water well. The department does not track financial arrangements between companies, she said. Interior evaluates and reviews specific permits based on their compliance with safety regulations, she said in an e-mail.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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