Concern Over Proposed EU Oil Exploration Ban

08 July 2010
SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has today (Thursday) written to the EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger asking for a meeting with him and representatives of the Oil and Gas sector in Scotland to discuss comments from the Commissioner calling for a total ban on new North sea drilling.
In his speech the Commissioner said the following:

'Immediate action: Utmost caution must be exercised for the moment with respect to new drillings. As said, given the current circumstances, any responsible Government would at present practically freeze new permits for drilling with extreme parameters and conditions. This can mean de facto a moratorium on new drills until the causes of the accident are known and corrective measures are taken for such frontier operations as the ones carried out by the Deepwater Horizon.'

Smith said:
"Nobody would argue that safety should not come first, but in the North Sea and Scottish industry it already does, and talk of a ban on new developments is wholly disproportionate and unhelpful.

"The Commissioner's speech is an eye-opener and whilst the Gulf of Mexico incident is a reminder to all that there is no room for complacency and lessons must be learnt and standards raised.  Oil and gas are a vital part of Scotland and Europe's energy mix, and will be for years to come even as we develop our glittering renewables potential.

"The Commissioner has to meet with Scottish Oil and Gas experts so our voice is heard loud and ideas about bans on new drilling are kicked into touch."
A spokesperson for Oil and Gas UK said:
"We believe there is no justification for this kind of knee-jerk reaction from the Commission especially as all the details from the Gulf of Mexico incident are not yet fully understood and we  sincerely hope that Member States choose to ignore the Commissioner's advice."