The US Government has lifted its ban on deepwater drilling, which came into force following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, seven weeks ahead of its deadline.

The US Interior Department secretary said oil companies that comply with the new regulations and clear the higher bar will be allowed to resume drilling.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement Director Michael Bromwich said the risks of deepwater drilling were reduced sufficiently because of safety improvements in drilling operations and blowout containment capabilities.

BOEM will inspect each deepwater drilling rig before awarding a permit and each operator must demonstrate that containment resources are available promptly in the event of a deepwater blowout.

The department said there are currently 18 idled deepwater rigs that must seek drilling permits under the new safety rules.