A moratorium on deep-water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is to be lifted as planned, White House officials have confirmed.
A six-month ban was placed on all deep-water drilling activity in April, following a catastrophic spill at the BP operated Deepwater Horizon platform.
Pictured: BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on 20 April, killing 11 workers
Some 11 people were killed in an explosion at the platform, with 4.9 million barrels of oil subsequently leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, devastating local tourism.
BP has subsequently claimed “no single factor” was responsible for the spill, with a litany of court cases pending.
The White House – which itself was criticised by an independent report into its handling of the disaster – stated oil firms looking to restart drilling in the region would have to pass a series of new safety tests.
Officials added it would take “at least a couple of weeks” before permits to resume drilling were approved.
In a statement to the press interior secretary Ken Salazar said: “Operators who play by the rules and clear the higher bar can be allowed to resume drilling.
“The oil and gas industry will be operating under tighter rules, stronger oversight, and in a regulatory environment that will remain dynamic as we continue to build on the reforms we have already implemented.”
A federal report said the moratorium had caused a temporary loss of between 8,000 and 12,000 jobs in the Gulf.
The Deepwater Horizon well was finally permanently sealed on September 19th.