Ban on Gulf of Mexico oil drilling to be lifted

Deep water oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico There had long been calls for the ban to be ended

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The moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is to be lifted, the US government has confirmed.

The six-month ban was introduced in the aftermath of April's BP oil spill, but calls had been growing for it to be ended because of its economic impact.

Before oil firms can resume deep-water work in the region they will first have to meet a range of new safety rules.

A federal report said the moratorium had caused a temporary loss of between 8,000 and 12,000 jobs in the Gulf.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said new rules imposed after the spill had reduced the risk of a similar disaster

Officials said it would now take "at least a couple of weeks" before permits to resume drilling are approved.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said: "Operators who play by the rules and clear the higher bar can be allowed to resume [drilling].

"The oil and gas industry will be operating under tighter rules, stronger oversight, and in a regulatory environment that will remain dynamic as we continue to build on the reforms we have already implemented."

BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on 20 April, killing 11 works, and ultimately leaking an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.

The well was finally permanently sealed on 19 September.

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