20100920 oil rig 35
The damaged blow out preventer along with the Lower Marine Riser Package cap from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that caused the massive oil spill is extracted and put aboard the vessel Q4000 in the Gulf of Mexico. - 

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: British oil giant BP could restart drilling in the Gulf of Mexico as early as July. That's according to reports this morning from here in the U.S. and in the U.K. It would be less than 15 months from the time of the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

From London, Marketplace's Stephen Beard is with us live now with the latest. Hi Stephen.


CHIOTAKIS: So is this business as usual for BP?

BEARD: Well, I should say that U.S. spokesperson says a decision has not been announced. And BP is refusing to comment, but according to these pretty widespread reports, BP is going to be allowed to drill 10 existing wells in the Gulf. These are not new exploratory wells, but if this story is correct, it's a breakthrough. It shows BP's rehabilitation has begun.

CHIOTAKIS: And we know the Obama administration, Stephen, has called for the U.S. to be more energy independent. I mean is this part of that story?

BEARD: Very much so. I mean, everything that's happened in recent weeks -- the Middle East, the renewed doubts about nuclear power after Japan -- have underlined the importance of the Gulf of Mexico for the U.S. authorities.

Here's Nick McGregor, and oil analysts with stockbrokers Redmayne Bentley.

NICK MCGREGOR: They really need BP and companies like it to continue their activities in the Gulf of Mexico to provide energy for America's future and to reduce dependency upon imports.

BEARD: He says that shutting BP out of the Gulf would be very difficult, it would mean that, or it could mean, that BP's fields there might not be developed in the short term. And the U.S. would for a time, at least, lose access to much needed oil which is on its doorstep.

CHIOTAKIS: All right. Marketplace's Stephen Beard in London. Stephen thank you.

BEARD: OK Steve.