UK Legislators Rule out North Sea Offshore Drilling Ban

This shouldn't come as a surprise to maritime attorneys. Lawmakers in the UK have ruled out a ban on offshore drilling in the North Sea, even though they agree that a massive blowout and spill in that region like the one that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, would be almost impossible to contain. The UK offshore industry has grappled with the safety issues arising out of the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in April last year. Soon after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, the offshore industry in the UK was bombarded with calls from environmental groups, including Greenpeace for a ban on offshore drilling in the region. There have been calls for a temporary moratorium on offshore drilling at least until the causes of the Deepwater Horizon can be analyzed. Part of the concern in the UK is from the unique issues arising out of offshore drilling in the North Sea. For one thing, this is a remote drilling location, and any oil spill like the one that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, would be extremely difficult to plug. Because of the remote location, there would be only a few rigs that could be deployed to drill relief wells. Besides, low sea surface temperatures in the North Sea would mean a slower evaporation of the spill. Overall, a tragedy of this sort in the North Sea would be exceedingly difficult to contain, and would severely strain oil spill response efforts. However, UK's lawmakers have voted in spite of all these concerns, to avoid a moratorium on offshore drilling. According to a committee of lawmakers, any moratorium on offshore drilling would leave the company too dependent on imported oil.

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