A federal appeals court in the American state of Louisiana has refused to let the Obama administration continue its suspension of deepwater drilling for oil.
The ban was imposed after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The court denied the administration's request that a lower court's June order lifting the six-month moratorium be stayed pending appeal.
The BBC reports that the three-judge panel wrote that the government had "made no showing that there is any likelihood that drilling activities will be resumed pending appeal".
Further hearings on the issue are expected.
The ruling came as BP said its operation to drill a new relief well to stop the Deepwater Horizon leak was ahead of schedule.
24 hours to answer questions
The US Government's incident commander says the oil giant has been given 24 hours to answer questions on the spill.
Admiral Thad Allen sent a letter to BP's managing director saying the company must hand over "detailed plans and timelines" on stopping the leak.
The information is needed before BP is allowed to change caps on the oil well.