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BP approved for British deep-water work

LONDON, March 23 (UPI) -- The British government announced that it gave energy company BP permission to drill for oil and natural gas off the coast of the Shetland Islands.

British Energy Minister Charles Hendry said the consent was "positive news" given the important role that oil and natural gas play in the regional energy mix. He said BP has ensured the government it would use the lessons learned from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico at its deep-water North Uist well off the coast of the Shetland Islands.

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"Oil and gas plays an important role in our economy and makes a significant contribution to our energy security but exploration should not come at a cost to the environment," said Hendry.

World Wide Fund for Nature-Scotland states, however, that a "worst-case scenario" predicted by BP would lead to a spill that would release 75,000 barrels of oil per day for more than four months.

"Both the U.K. and Scotland have climate and renewable energy targets and yet are still supporting North Sea oil exploration in ever more difficult and sensitive areas," WWF-Scotland director Richard Dixon said in a statement. "Instead of continuing to feed the massive profits of the oil industry, we need a proper plan to wean the country off its oil dependency."

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The well is about 75 miles off the northwest coast of the Shetland Isles in about 4,100 feet of water.

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