Top energy research and analysis firm Platts has said the U.S. regulatory framework overseeing energy sector investments could undergo fast-paced changes in 2011.

While it’s believed that Congress may do little or nothing in 2011 to address major energy challenges facing the United States, federal regulators will be busy considering significant changes in the way investments are made in oil, natural gas, electric-power and other energy industries, Platts said in a statement.

However, a senior Platts executive has said the chances of the U.S. Congress enacting legislation to address the BP offshore drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are thinning. Brian Hansen, managing editor of Platts Inside Energy, said the Congress was less likely to enact a bill as the balance of power has tilted in favor of the Republicans.

Hansen said Republicans had objected to a bill passed by the then Democrat-led House in 2010 that would have raised a $75 million limit on company liability for damages caused by oil spills.

Platts said fast-paced changes in the regulatory frameworks governing the issue of drilling permits and other related businesses will mean that both companies and governments will not be able to catch up with the new business environment. It said regulatory changes in sectors like offshore oil and natural gas industry will be more pronounced.

We're in a very dynamic regulatory moment, Gary Gentile, a senior writer with Platts Oilgram News, said. The rules seem to be changing so quickly that companies can't keep up and the government can't keep up. We have to wait until things sort out before things get back to normal.

He asserted that it was going to take much longer to get permits than it did in the past.

Though enactment of the much-hyped legislation may not happen this year, Platts analysts have said the Congress may reach agreement on some energy measures, such as a federal mandate that utilities use low-emission technologies to produce electricity.

Such a mandate, which some advocates say should include coal-fired power that captures and stores carbon emissions and nuclear power, would exceed renewable-energy mandates that have been implemented by more than half the U.S. states and considered by Congress.