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Oil Exploration Approval by U.S. Remains Slow, Group Says

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June 14 (Bloomberg) -- The Obama administration remains slow in approving plans for deep-water oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the American Petroleum Institute, the largest energy trade organization in the U.S.

The government sent back at least 20 plans, saying company calculations of the worst-case oil spill isn’t meeting standards set by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, said Erik Milito, the institute’s director for upstream and industry operations.

“Where we’re seeing the bottleneck is with the continued recycling of the exploration plans,” Milito said today on a conference call with reporters. “We believe we need to move forward at a better pace.”

The U.S. approved permits for 16 wells in waters deeper than 500 feet (152 meters) after lifting a drilling ban that followed BP Plc’s record offshore spill in April 2010. The ocean-energy bureau added requirements such as a subsurface oil spill containment system, to prevent similar disasters.

The regulator is “constantly looking for ways to create a smarter, more efficient, and more transparent,” review process, Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said in an e-mailed statement on June 3.

The agency released a checklist this month to help offshore-oil operators submit complete applications to drill.

American Petroleum Institute, based in Washington, includes among members the largest energy company Exxon Mobil Corp. and peers such as ConocoPhillips and Chevron Corp.

To contact the reporter on this story: Katarzyna Klimasinska in Washington at kklimasinska@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net

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