Statoil cleared to move controversial rig

Company has to wait to tap oil to hear any appeals.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Sept. 2, 2014 at 8:07 AM

STAVANGER, Norway, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Norwegian energy company Statoil needs to wait to start drilling for oil in the Barents Sea in order to vet appeals, a state energy regulator said.

Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority said the company received consent to move the Transocean rig, Spitsbergen, to a license area in the Barents Sea, where the water depth is approximately 1,400 feet.

"In its decision to grant permission under the Pollution Act, the Norwegian Environment Agency has determined that Statoil may not drill in oil-bearing strata before Sept. 18," the regulator said. "This condition has been set to allow for appeals before the riskiest part of the operation gets under way."

More than a dozen Greenpeace demonstrators took part in a protest against Statoil's drilling plans for arctic waters by boarding the Transocean rig in May. Around half of them surrendered their campaign voluntarily and Statoil said the seven activists who remained behind were arrested by Norwegian police.

Greenpeace said drilling operations in the region present a threat to regional species and the environment.

Statoil in August abandoned an exploration campaign in the area after failing to find commercial prospects. Greenpeace said it was vindicated following the announcement.

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