BP (NYSE:BP), Shell (NYSE:RDS-A), Noble Corp. (NYSE:NE) and Seahawk Drilling Inc. (Nasdaq:HAWK), among others, are all working to get in compliance with new government regulations in order to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Although the oil moratorium was lifted by the Obama administration, it's largely irrelevant, and effectively still in place, as it could take companies months to before being given the go ahead to continue drilling in Gulf waters.
The permitting process is another tool the government can use to have the same affect as the oil moratorium, as they can be refused and/or delayed, keeping companies in limbo as long as they want.
This is why the Obama administration lifted the Gulf oil moratorium, as it gives the appearance of not being so stubborn while hurting the Gulf region, while still being able to control the drilling in the area, as far as keeping things on hold.
Noble Corp., Seahawk Drilling and Royal Dutch Shell have all said they're working hard to company with the new rules in order to begin drilling ASAP.
BP said they're not going to comment on its future plans in the Gulf at this time, which would entail not only drilling on its existing projects, but also possible application for exploration permits too.
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