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Shell expects to drill deepwater Gulf of Mexico well in April

Washington (Platts)–31Mar2011/408 pm EDT/2008 GMT

Shell said Thursday it plans to start drilling an exploratory well in its Cardamom Deep discovery in the US Gulf of Mexico next month.

The work represents the first new deepwater exploration to clear all regulatory hurdles since last year’s Deepwater Horizon disaster and subsequent drilling moratorium.

Spokesman Bill Tanner said the Noble Jim Thompson semi-submersible rig is under contract and ready to move to the site sometime in April.

On Wednesday, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement approved Shell’s permit to drill in Garden Banks Block 427 in 2,721 feet of water, about 140 miles south of Lafayette, Louisiana.

The approval came about a week after BOEM signed off on Shell’s broader exploration plan calling for three wells into the reservoir. Shell will have to return to regulators before drilling the other two proposed wells.

BOEM has approved eight permits for seven unique wells and one exploration plan since February 28. Eleven permit applications are pending, the agency said Wednesday.

–Meghan Gordon, [email protected]

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