Policy: Environment & Energy

BP to expand U.S. offshore drilling

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Interior,BP,PennAve,Energy and Environment,Zack Colman,Oil,Offshore Drilling,Gulf of Mexico

It didn't take long for BP to get back into the offshore drilling game.

The oil giant spent $41.6 million to net 24 government contracts to expand its Gulf of Mexico drilling operations, the Interior Department announced Wednesday.

It comes less than a week after an agreement was reached to end BP's suspension and debarment from federal contracts, which was imposed after the company's November 2012 guilty plea in a federal criminal case for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

That incident resulted in the deaths of 11 workers and spilled nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf, amounting to the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.

The agreement between the Environmental Protection Agency and BP reached last week, which will be in place for five years, requires the oil company to clear annual audits on specific ethics, safety and corporate governance measures.

In all, Wednesday's federal auctions for offshore leases covered 1.7 million acres of the central Gulf of Mexico, generating more than $872 million for the federal government.

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