Norwegian energy company Statoil was given approval to move the Transocean Spitsbergen rig to a drilling site in the Barents Sea. The Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway said Statoil can use the rig for around 28 days, depending on whether or not a discovery is made.
Truls Gulowsen, director of Greenpeace in Norway, told United Press International moving the rig to the region posed a threat to regional species and the environment.
"Greenpeace has recommended that the drilling does not take place, as it is too close to vulnerable seabird habitats at Bear Island," he said Friday.
Statoil last week gave up on an exploration campaign in the area after failing to find commercial prospects. Greenpeace said it was vindicated following the announcement.
Gulowsen said Statoil's regional monitoring of the ecosystem has so far been "inadequate." If spilled, oil from the site could reach the sensitive habitat in less than two weeks.
The Norwegian government said Statoil is restricted from drilling into any oil-bearing layer in the well before Sept. 5 to give opponents time to appeal "before the riskiest part of the operation gets under way."
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