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Agency leader denies 'de facto' drilling moratorium

GULF OF MEXICO — The head of the federal agency that regulates offshore oil drilling says the government is not trying to slow the permitting of drilling and denies the existence of what some in the industry call a “de facto moratorium” on drilling.

Michael Bromwich, head of the Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management and Regulation, told a gathering of petroleum industry lawyers in New Orleans yesterday that the agency is working to issue permits under new safety regulations. He said new guidance to help the industry comply with the regulations could be issued later this week.

The federal government imposed a moratorium after the BP-leased rig Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico and sank in April, spawning a massive oil spill. The moratorium was lifted in October.

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