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Spain backs Repsol oil exploration off Canary Islands

30/05/2014 by


Spain’s environment ministry on Thursday backed the exploration by oil major Repsol of three oil fields off the Canary Islands, despite the opposition of the local authorities, which fear the move may hit the islands’ prosperous tourist industry. Although the exploration still needs the formal backing of the industry ministry, the approval of the environment authorities was considered a key step in the process as Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria had already said he was backing it.

The Environment Ministry said in a statement that Repsol would have to seek a separate authorisation for drilling and extracting oil in case it found any crude in the area, located 60 kms away from the islands. The company, leading a consortium including Australia’s Woodside Petroleum and Germany’s RWE Dea , said the exploration could start in the third quarter of the year if permits were granted on time.

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The Canary Islands regional government has been a fierce opponent to any oil exploration off its coasts because it believes it could harm its natural resources and dissuade tourists from visiting the islands, known for their sun and natural landscapes.

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