Mark Mathews in American's "Collateral Damage"


Collateral Damage: A deepwater drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

After BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in late April, oil gushed uncontrollably from the blown well for most of the summer. Energy lawyers' deepwater deal work, on the other hand, was completely plugged.

Some lawyers ... are optimistic about the BP fallout.

Others aren't so sure. "Everybody's testing the waters to measure the outcome of the BP disaster," says Mark Mathews, a Haynes and Boone oil and gas partner. One uncertainty: Prior to the BP spill, the Minerals Management Service--now known as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement--made it easy for oil companies. A much-loved method (much-loved by the oil companies, anyway) allowed new wells to go forward if an environmental impact statement had already been filed for a similar drilling project. If so, MMS would allow the new well to start drilling by granting a "categorical exclusion" from a full project-specific assessment.

Excerpted from The American Lawyer, October 1, 2010. To read the full article, click here (subscription required).

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