The UK government has sold oil exploration rights in 35,000 square kilometres of sea, mainly in the Atlantic Ocean "frontier zone" west of the Shetland Isles. Oil companies, including Statoil of Norway, Enterprise Oil of the UK and Mobil of the US, were yesterday awarded "blocks" of seabed, which they will survey in an attempt to find new oil fields. Greenpeace described the awards as "illegal". The environmental group had attempted to apply itself for the licences, but its application was rejected by the government for not fulfilling "oil drilling criteria". Greenpeace recently tried to stimulate EU legal action against the UK for not requiring a full environmental impact assessment for all offshore oil developments (ENDS Daily 2 April).
UK Department of Trade and Industry , tel: +44 171 215 5000; Greenpeace UK , tel: +44 171 865 8100.
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