Statoil gets nod for Barents Sea drilling

Rig at center of latest Greenpeace action set for Barents Sea drilling.

By Daniel J. Graeber

STAVANGER, Norway, July 10 (UPI) -- The Norwegian government said it gave its consent to energy company Statoil to start drilling in controversial arctic waters of the Barents Sea.

The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority said it gave Statoil consent to use Transocean's Spitsbergen drilling rig to explore an area in the Barents Sea just north of the country.


"Drilling is planned to begin Sept. 1, with a duration of approximately 30 days, depending on whether a discovery is made," agency said in a statement Wednesday.

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.

The action from Greenpeace included a campaign against Russian energy company Gazprom. Six of the 30 campaigners involved in that protest were arrested by Norwegian police.

The so-called Arctic 30, a group of Greenpeace activists, were arrested for similar actions against Gazprom last year.

There was no statement from Statoil or Transocean on the drilling consent decision.


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