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September 16, 2010
1:25 PM

CONTACT: Food & Water Watch - Europe

Gabriella Zanzanaini, +32488409662, gzanzanaini(at)

Commission Support for Moratorium Nowhere to be Seen Despite BP Admissions

BRUSSELS - September 16 - Food & Water Europe today renewed calls for a moratorium on deepwater oil drilling in Europe after BP admitted the oil industry is not ready to deal with a subsea explosion in deep water.

In his testimony at the UK House of Commons’ Energy and Climate Change Committee yesterday, BP’s CEO Tony Hayward admitted that the reason the industry had not prepared for such an event was that, “The risk was seen as being zero.”

Since no risk was presumed, no money has been invested into developing technology or detailed plans for capping a well should such an explosion occur. BP’s own internal documents stated that, “The oil spill consequences of a catastrophic failure of a deep sub-sea well head, either due to equipment failure or accidental damage, have never been considered in detail.” [1]

Now, the same excuse is being given for operations in the North Sea. Since the conditions are slightly different, oil companies are saying that the risk of the same thing happening are near impossible. “BP claims to have no High Pressure/ High Temperature (HP/HT) wells in deep water in the North Sea, but they are not the only operators, “ warns Gabriella Zanzanaini, Director of European Affairs for Food & Water Europe. Other oil companies are also beginning exploration west of the Shetland Islands, which do include HP/HT wells. “The Commission should take the fact that the entire industry is not yet capable of dealing with a subsea explosion seriously and push the Member States to enforce a moratorium on deepwater drilling now.”

“Saying that they have a good safety record is not enough,” says Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. “The simple fact is that they do not have the capping mechanisms in place and should not be allowed to drill without detailed emergency contingency plans.”

After meeting with oil companies in July, the European Commissioner for Energy stated that he fully believed a moratorium on all new drilling permits was necessary and that a coordinated European effort was essential. “We are still waiting to see progress from this public announcement,” said Zanzanaini. “We want follow-through on this to convince us it was a substantive attempt to ensure drilling safety and not just a way to silence the opposition.”

Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.


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