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Gulf Oil Drilling

Drilling held up

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ATLANTA (AP) - The head of the agency that oversees offshore drilling says deepwater permits in the Gulf of Mexico have been withheld largely because the industry is unable to prove it could contain another major blowout at the bottom of the sea.

Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, made the disclosure in a letter he sent late Friday to executives at Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Helix Energy Solutions Group.

Bromwich was asking the companies when the containment system they and others are working on will be ready.

Drilling was suspended last year when the administration imposed a months long moratorium following the BP spill.

The ban was lifted in October, but drilling has not yet resumed in waters deeper than 500 feet in the Gulf.