Janet McConnaughey / The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- The chairman and president of BP America Inc. says the company is getting closer to an agreement that would let it participate in federal oil lease sales and get other federal contracts.

John Minge did not give any details about talks with the Environmental Protection Agency in his speech Wednesday to the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, and was not available for questions afterward.

The Obama administration suspended BP's ability to get new federal contracts in late November 2012, after it pleaded guilty to criminal counts resulting from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Minge said the federal suspension also keeps BP from new joint ventures to drill in areas where an oil or gas deposit overlaps waterbottom leased by other companies.

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