According to the British newspaper Financial Times, BP could return to Gulf drilling as early as July. The Sunday Times, another British newspaper, also reported the news.
However, a spokeswoman for the U.S. government agency that oversees drilling denied that the government had reached any agreement with the British oil giant and said no permits have been issued to the company. The New York Times reported that while BP is in negotiations to return to the Gulf in exchange for stricter government oversight, no deal has been reached.
The news comes nearly two weeks before the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the subsequent spill of crude oil that fouled Gulf coast beaches and upended the lives and the economies of residents who depended on the Gulf for their livelihoods.
The explosion and fire killed 11 workers on the rig.
In returning to the Gulf, BP will be limited to drilling at 10 existing wells that were under way before the explosion, according to reports.
The Sunday Times said BP will not be permitted to drill exploration wells, according to its agreement with the government.
BP has agreed to allow regulators 24-hour access to all of its Gulf sites, the newspapers reported.
Melissa Schwartz, spokesperson for Michael Bromwich, the director of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, denied that any deal had been reached between the U.S. government and BP.
"There is no such deal," she said in an email to reporters.