Obama administration OKs permit for deepwater drilling

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration Monday granted the first permit allowing deepwater drilling since last year's BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Noble Energy was granted a so-called "permit to bypass" for a well about 70 miles south of Venice, La.

Initial drilling on the well began in April 2010 but was halted when the Obama administration suspended offshore activity in after the disaster at BP's Macondo oil well, which killed 11 workers and spilled an estimated 205 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico later that same month.

Government officials granted Noble Energy approval to drill around parts of the original well because it showed that it was capable of containing an underwater blowout, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement director Michael Bromwich said in a statement.

The recent jump in world oil prices and U.S. gasoline prices following unrest in Libya spurred renewed calls from many Republicans and Gulf Coast Democrats in Congress to allow more domestic production, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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