EU rejects offshore drilling ban

Oct. 13, 2010 at 5:25 PM

BRUSSELS, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- The European Commission said Wednesday Europe requires legislation to make offshore oil drilling safer, but steered away from imposing a drilling ban.

A day after the United States ended a six-month moratorium on deep-water drilling exploration, European Union commissioners recommended a "single new piece of legislation for offshore oil and gas activities," as they rejected Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger's proposal to impose a drilling moratorium, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"We have to make sure that a disaster similar to the one in the Gulf of Mexico will never happen in European waters," Oettinger said. "This is why we propose that best practices already existing in Europe will become the standard throughout the European Union."

The ban Oettinger proposed was blocked by Britain, which is home to companies that operate more than half of the 900 drilling operations in the EU.

In Britain, Malcolm Webb, the head of Oil & Gas U.K., a trade group, called a drilling suspension "wholly unjustified and inappropriate."

But new safety legislation for regulating the industry could be prepared for the EU parliament by early next year, the Journal said.

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