API Says Permit Approvals Remain Slow

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The American Petroleum Institute (API), the largest U.S. energy trade group, said federal regulators remain slow in approving permits for new deep-water exploration projects in the Gulf of Mexico and urged the Obama Administration to step up the pace of permit approvals.

The government sent back at least 20 plans, saying company calculations of the worst-case oil spill is not meeting standards set by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, API said, according to Bloomberg News. Permits for 16 deep-water wells have been approved since the moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf was lifted in October.

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the agency charged with overseeing drilling in U.S. waters, released details to energy producers detailing what they need to do to expedite the permit approval process. The agency maintains it is constantly evaluating ways to improve the efficiency of the permit process.

Exxon Mobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX) and ConocoPhillips (COP), the three largest U.S. oil companies, respectively, are among API's members.