Interior says there is no deal with BP

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Monday said the Interior Department has not come to an agreement with BP to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The Financial Times reported this weekend that BP “has struck a deal” with the Interior Department to resume drilling at as many as 10 wells that were shuttered in the aftermath of last year’s Gulf oil spill.

Salazar, in a conference call with reporters Monday, blasted what he called a “misconception that has gotten out there from a media outlet.”

“There is absolutely no such agreement, nor would there be such an agreement,” Salazar said.

He stressed that every company is held to a series of beefed-up safety standards imposed by the Interior Department in the months after the oil spill.

“There is nothing here with BP that is different from what we will be doing with all the other companies that operate in the Gulf of Mexico,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) also pushed back against the report Monday.

"There is no deal. There is no agreement. There is no draft agreement. There are no ongoing talks. There are no ongoing negotiations," BOEMRE spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said in an email.

But other news outlets have reported that BP is working to secure approval from the Interior Department to resume Gulf drilling, even if there is no deal.

The New York Times, citing an anonymous BP official, reported that an agreement on whether BP can resume drilling could come "within the next month."

For more, see this Sunday's E2 story.