UK govt rejects calls for ban on deep sea drilling
Despite low public opinion on deep sea drilling and an overall global shift away from the practice, including the Obama administration’s moratorium in the US, the UK government – the ‘greenest government eva’ – has decided to go against the grain and allow exploratory drilling in the North Sea.
A spokeswoman for the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change was quoted in an article in the Independent:
We will not consent to the drilling of any well unless we are convinced that it is designed to the very highest standards, that the equipment used is fully tested and that the people working on the well are fully trained.
Well thank God for that.
Greenpeace has campaigned for the UK to institute a similar moratorium on deep sea drilling like the one currently in effect in the US. Greenpeace has also been critical of the UK coalition government’s new tax policies regarding off shore oil drilling, claiming they make deep sea drilling more financially attractive.
BP plans to drill in the North Sea some sixty miles (95km) from Scotland’s Shetland Islands.
Regardless of safety issues, such a move in the wake of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is sure to be seen as a bit of political bad timing on behalf of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government.
Meanwhile, European voices are rising in reaction to BP’s plans for deep sea drilling in the Mediterranean off the coast of Libya. The planned well is 200 meters deeper than the one drilled by the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.
From an article in the Financial Times:
Environmental groups as well as local Italian politicians and Italy’s opposition Democratic party have also called for a suspension of deepwater drilling in the Mediterranean. Libya’s Gulf of Sirte lies some 500km from Italian and Maltese territory.
According to the UN Libya does not have an oil spill response contingency plan as of yet and whether or not Mediterranean states on the whole are capable of dealing with a spill remains questionable.