February 25, 2011 / 8:54 PM / 8 years ago

No date yet for deepwater Gulf permits-US officials

* Libya will not hurry issuance - Interior Secty Salazar

* Still reviewing drilling plans - BOEM’s Bromwich

By Kristen Hays

HOUSTON, Feb 25 (Reuters) - U.S. officials on Friday could not offer a firm date when deepwater permits to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico will be issued, as crude posted its highest weekly close in more than two years.

“We are carefully and rigorously reviewing drilling plans,” Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the offshore drilling regulator, said at a news conference. “I am quite confident we will again get to the point where we approve deepwater permits.”

A drilling ban put in place after BP Plc’s (BP.N) (BP.N) disastrous well blow out last year in the Gulf was lifted in October, but but no new deepwater drilling permits have been approved yet.

U.S. crude oil futures posted their highest weekly settlement in almost 2-1/2 years on Friday on supply disruptions due to the revolt in Libya. [ID:nN25116777]

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar told reporters the situation in Libya was “not changing at all what we do” and the government felt no pressure to hurry its permitting process.

Bromwich and Salazar were in Houston to peruse a pair of rapid-response systems designed to stop or contain a future Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a requirement for companies under new U.S. drilling regulations. (Writing by Anna Driver in Houston; Editing by Walter Bagley)

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