As announced in a conference call earlier today, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has issued a decision memorandum lifting the deepwater drilling moratorium for parties in compliance with new BOEM guidance and regulations on drilling and worker safety.
The announcement does not come as a surprise, but it is still unclear when new permits will begin to be issued, and Director Bromwich did little to clarify the situation in today's call. He predicted that new permits would not be issued in the near future, but may come by the end of the year, although he did not opine on how far from the end of the year and in what volume. Bromwich did note that BOEM has allocated additional resources to review new applications for the Gulf of Mexico.
Salazar and Bromwich also confirmed that new drilling regulations would likely be forthcoming pending the recommendations of multiple investigative bodies with overlapping jurisdiction.