Drilling Deep Again

By Marii Stoltsen

Activists fear there is a danger of a new oil spill as the UK government throw themselves in the midst of a new drilling contract.  With the devastation still prominent on the Gulf Coast, there is a worry that no lessons have been learned from the latest environmental disaster.

Last week, UK energy secretary, Chris Huhne, issued a license to Chevron allowing them to commence drilling an exploratory well in the Lagavulin prospect north of Shetland. The license was granted after a vote of the European Parliament turned out against a moratorium on deep sea drilling for oil and gas.

The decision went through despite days of protests by activists who deemed the move ‘irresponsible’. A spokesperson for Greenpeace said: “I think the oil companies and governments are not in the position to deal with such problems, the measures to tackle the disasters are not in place, as can be seen from the long response times in the BP crisis.

“We need to reassess what measures are in place before any more licenses for deep water drilling are given out.”

The vote also addressed the need for tighter safety regulations and increased compensation in the event of a spillage, which was approved by 601 MEPs. The EU energy council is expected to discuss these issues at next week’s meeting.

The location of the drilling also presents a problem for the locals. According to the West Lothian Council, around a fifth of Scotland’s population lives within a kilometre of the sea and the fishing and marine industry generates billions of pounds for the economy every year. In the case of a spillage, the clean-up could take months to complete and create irreversible damage as has been the case in the Gulf of Mexico.