The U.S. Interior Department said on Friday it approved a permit for Statoil to drill for oil in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
It was the sixth such permit issued by the government since the BP oil spill.
The permit allows Statoil to drill a new well 7,134 feet to the sea floor in the Alaminos Canyon Block 810, 216 miles off the Texas coastline.
Statoil had to meet tough new U.S. drilling safety rules imposed after the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
The oil industry and some U.S. lawmakers complained the department took too long to approve drilling permits once the drilling moratorium imposed in response to the spill was lifted in October. Environmentalists worry oil companies have not taken enough safety measures to resume drilling.
Some say we are now proceeding too quickly; some say we are still proceeding too slowly. The truth is, we are proceeding as quickly as our resources allow to approve permit applications that satisfy our rigorous safety and environmental standards, said Michael Bromwich, who heads the U.S. agency that oversees offshore drilling. We will continue to do so.
In order to meet the new safety rules, Statoil contracted with Helix Well Containment Group to use its device to stop the flow of oil in case a major leak occurs at the well.
(Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by Dale Hudson; Editing by David Gregorio)