Oil company BP has been given the green light to
drill a new deep water well northwest of the Shetland Islands in
Scotland, the British government said Thursday.
BP, which is still recovering from the reputational and financial damage done by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, pledged to invest billions of pounds in the long-term future of oil exploration and said that its activities would be managed "safely and responsibly."
The North Uist well, around 125 kilometers northwest of the Shetland Islands, will see BP drilling in water more than 1,300 meters deep.
BP's commitment to conduct operations "to the highest possible standards" had been carefully checked before granting permission, the Department for Energy and Climate Change said.
However, environmental groups expressed concern at the move, saying that any potential spill could be devastating for marine life along the coasts of both Britain and Norway.
"This government is taking a huge risk to both Scotland's fragile natural environment, and its economy, in granting a licence to BP, one of the most accident-prone oil companies in the world, to drill in the deep waters off the Shetland coast," said Greenpeace spokesman Charlie Kronick.
The move to exploit increasingly hard-to-reach oil reserves in environmentally fragile areas was alarming, said Stan Blackley, chief executive of the Friends of the Earth environmental group.
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