It didn't take long. As last week arrived, the Obama administration set off cautious optimism among offshore drilling contractors by approving its first deepwater drilling permit for the Gulf of Mexico since BP's
The issuance early in the week went to Noble Energy
The permit followed the October removal by the administration of a deepwater moratorium it had ordered in May. But despite the passage of four months, no prior permits had been issued. In writing his order responding to a lawsuit by Ensco
Nevertheless, whether they were intended to flex muscles at the judiciary, Interior Department court filings on Friday afternoon quarreled with the quality and completeness of the drilling applications. The department also said that the judge's order inappropriately truncated the normal negotiations between the companies and regulators, warning that the applications may therefore be rejected.
When last week's permit was issued, Michael R. Bromwich, director of the Ocean Energy Management bureau, maintained that it was not a response to political pressures. He also said that the Interior Department was preparing a legal response to Judge Feldman's ruling based on its disagreement with the order and noted that Noble had met new safety and environmental rules.
Among the safety measures related to the potential for deepwater blowouts, an industry consortium led by ExxonMobil
Now, just a week after Noble received its permit, I'm inclined to quote Senator Mary Landrieu, (D-La.), who called it "long overdue." She then added, "I hope that this permit is the first of many to come, and I will continue to use every lever at my disposal to ensure that it is."
Better grab a lever, Senator.
We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares of any of the companies named in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.