Shell pre­par­ing plans to meet re­quire­ments for Gulf of Mex­ico

The Pak Banker - - Company& -

WASHINGTON: Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's biggest oil com­pany, is pre­par­ing three ex­plo­ration plans to meet new re­quire­ments for deep-wa­ter wells in the Gulf of Mex­ico af­ter the U.S. lifted a drilling ban, a spokes­woman said to­day.

Sta­toil ASA, the Nordic re­gion's biggest en­ergy pro­ducer, has filed ap­pli­ca­tions for two new wells since the mora­to­rium ended on Oct. 12, Tony Dore, head of Sta­toil's ex­plo­ration unit in North Amer­ica, said on Dec. 10.

Drilling in wa­ters deeper than 500 feet (152 me­ters) re­mains idle more than two months af­ter Pres­i­dent Barack Obama ended the mora­to­rium as reg­u­la­tors re­view com­pli­ance with en­vi­ron­men­tal and safety rules im­posed af­ter BP Plc's Ma­condo oil-well blast. The U.S. re­ceived three ap­pli­ca­tions for new wells sub­ject to reg­u­la­tions in­tro­duced af­ter the spill, the Bureau of Ocean En­ergy Man­age­ment, Reg­u­la­tion and En­force­ment said.

"It does re­main to be seen how long it's go­ing to take to get per­mits ap­proved," Erik Mil­ito, the up­stream di­rec­tor for the Amer­i­can Petroleum In­sti­tute, said to­day in a phone in­ter­view from Washington. "The com­pa­nies have the abil­ity to move for­ward in a safe, en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble man­ner."

"Fu­ture drilling per­mits must first wait on ap­proved ex­plo­ration plans," Kelly op de Weegh, a spokes­woman for The Hague-based Shell, said in an email to­day.

Shell op­er­ated five rigs, more than any other com­pany, in deep wa­ters when Obama halted the ac­tiv­ity fol­low­ing the Ma­condo ex­plo­sion, the In­te­rior Depart­ment said. The blast killed 11 work­ers, spewed crude for 87 days and shut a third of the Gulf to com­mer­cial fish­ing.

"The Bureau of Ocean En­ergy Man­age­ment, Reg­u­la­tion and En­force­ment re­ceived three ap­pli­ca­tions for new wells sub­ject to reg­u­la­tions in­tro­duced af­ter the spill," said Melissa Schwartz, spokes­woman for the agency. "Only one of these per­mits is for ac­tiv­ity that was sus­pended un­der the mora­to­rium, and has been re­turned to the op­er­a­tor be­cause it was in­com­plete."

The agency also re­turned 11 other per­mits that were sub­mit­ted to the agency prior to the lift­ing of the mora­to­rium, Schwartz said.

The mora­to­rium cut Shell's Gulf out­put by 10,000 bar­rels of oil equiv­a­lent a day, Simon Henry, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer for the com­pany, said on an Oct. 28 con­fer­ence call.

Ac­cord­ing to a sep­a­rate news item, Re­search In Mo­tion Ltd. has surged 38 per­cent since Au­gust on prospects for its new tablet de­vice. That may be too big a jump given the prod­uct is late to a mar­ket led by Ap­ple Inc.'s iPad, say an­a­lysts who are cut­ting rat­ings.

Sales es­ti­mates for the Black­Berry Play­Book vary from 1 mil­lion units next fis­cal year to 8 mil­lion as an­a­lysts try to pre­dict de­mand for a com­puter that won't emerge un­til the first quar­ter and will also face other ri­vals be­sides Ap­ple.

"It'll be a mod­est seller and the iPad will likely do 10 times as much," said Shaw Wu, an an­a­lyst at Kauf­man Bros. in San Fran­cisco, who cut his RIM rat­ing to "hold" Nov. 9. He es­ti­mates RIM will sell 1 mil­lion Play­Books next year at most.

The tablet will show whether RIM can find growth be­yond the Black­Berry hand­set, which is los­ing users to Ap­ple's iPhone and de­vices that use Google Inc.'s An­droid soft­ware. Play­Book sales may reach $1.1 bil­lion, or 4.8 per­cent of the $22.8 bil­lion in rev­enue an­a­lysts pre­dict for RIM next year. The cal­cu­la­tion is based on the me­dian of 17 es­ti­mates in a Bloomberg sur­vey for RIM to sell 2.55 mil­lion tablets at an av­er­age price of $430.

At least six an­a­lysts have re­duced their rat­ing on RIM shares in the past six weeks, and fewer than half of those tracked by Bloomberg now rec­om­mend buy­ing. -Bloomberg

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