The Obama administration approved the first deep-water drilling permit since last year’s Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, amid rising political and legal pressure to reopen the Gulf of Mexico to oil exploration as crude prices spike.

The administration’s decision to grant a permit to Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. to restart a well located in 6,500 feet of water about 70 miles southeast of Venice, La., is a critical milestone in the oil-and-gas industry’s attempts to revive operations in the Gulf following the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history last April.