UPDATE 1-U.S. drilling agency says no deal with BP

Sun Apr 3, 2011 7:50pm GMT

* Report said BP to resume Gulf of Mexico drilling

* Bureau of Ocean Energy Management says "no deal" (Adds Bureau of Ocean Energy Management comment)

LONDON, April 3 (Reuters) - The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said on Sunday it had not struck a deal with BP (BP.L: Quote) (BP.N: Quote) to allow the oil company to resume deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, refuting a press report.

The Sunday Times newspaper had said BP was understood to have granted 24-hour access to government overseers and had agreed to safety requirements more stringent than the tougher rules imposed after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded a year ago, to win the backing of the regulator.

The U.S. drilling agency, which issues permits to drill based on the merits of applications, said there was no agreement with BP.

"There is no such deal," spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said.

The newspaper had said, without citing sources, that BP would only be able to maintain or increase production on existing platforms and not drill exploration wells when drilling resumed in July.

BP declined to comment on the report. (Reporting by Paul Sandle and Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Erica Billingham and Maureen Bavdek)

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