In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year government MPs rejected a moratorium on deep water drilling in the North Sea despite worrying admissions that an even worse disaster could occur. Oil companies drilling in the Shetland Islands region have admitted that current plans could cause a spill worse than that of BP’s Gulf of Mexico disaster. Currently, one quarter of the UK’s presently discovered oil and gas reserves, equating to four million barrels, are to be found in deep water off the West of Shetland.
However, Tim Yeo, Chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee gave his support to the plan saying that both the energy and national security of the UK relies on newly discovered oilfields. Mr. Yeo conceded that safety measures could be “tightened up” but reckons that the industry, on the whole, was safe and was subject to a stringent and robust regulatory system. At present, four fields are currently producing oil west of the Shetlands but over 100 exploration licences have been authorized.
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