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Spanish Government Approves Oil Prospecting

Monday March 19, 2012

Spanish Government Approves Oil Prospecting

Prospecting for oil in the seas surrounding the Canary Islands was given official approval by the Spanish government on Friday 16th March, according to international press reports. Placing the national administration on a collision course with the governments of both Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

The issue of oil prospecting in the waters off Lanzarote and Fuerteventura continues to heat up as the local island governments of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura – along with the Canarian government - are now hoping to stop any exploration by taking legal action.

This would not be the first time that they have been forced to pursue this path. Previous attempts to begin prospecting in 2001 were halted by the Supreme Court, after the Canarian Government sued, so it is possible that local opposition may once again put a halt to Repsol’s plans.

However the economic pressure on Spain’s central government to allow Repsol to press ahead with prospecting and extraction is growing, as the country struggles to deal with high levels of debt and unemployment. Currently Spain imports nearly all of its petrol and recent crude oil price rises have added further pressure on the government of Mariano Rajoy to reduce the country’s dependence in this area of the economy.

If extraction were to go ahead, this could happen in as little as two years’ time, after further preliminary studies have been undertaken by Repsol. The field located just off Lanzarote’s coast is believed to be one of the biggest oil discoveries in Spanish history, with a potential to yield as much as 100,000 barrels per day, if drilling is permitted.

Island residents are also being mobilized with demonstrations planned on both Lanzarote and Fuerteventura for Saturday 24th March.

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