Government reviewing applications for deepwater Gulf permits

U.S. officials on Friday could not offer a firm date when deepwater permits to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico will be issued, as crude posted its highest weekly close in more than two years. "We are carefully and rigorously reviewing drilling plans," Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the offshore drilling regulator, said at a news conference. "I am quite confident we will again get to the point where we can begin issuing deepwater permits." A drilling ban put in place after BP Plc's disastrous Macondo well blowout last year in the Gulf was lifted in October, but no new deepwater drilling permits have been approved yet. U.S. crude oil futures posted their highest weekly settlement in almost 2-1/2 years on Friday on supply disruptions due to the revolt in Libya.
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