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Repsol given permission to explore for oil off Canary Islands

Fri 16th Mar 2012

Earlier today a Government spokesman confirmed that the Minister for Energy, Industry and Tourism, Jose Manuel Soria, has given Repsol permission to investigate the potential of drilling for oil supplies in waters off the Canary Islands.

The exploratory surveys will be carried out over nine ‘grids' off the eastern coast of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

This has prompted criticism by the Regional Executive and the councils of both islands.

Previous surveys have revealled how an area off the coast of the Canry Islands, between Spanish and Moroccan waters has significant oil and gas deposits, which Morocco has already begun to investigate.

The Energy Minister is hopeful of the success of these explorations as means of reducing Spain's dependence on importing oil andin providing the Canary Islands with an alternative revenue stream to tourism.

Soria reaffirmed the Government's commitment to exploring alternative sources of energy, but said how he could not ignore that report by Repsol which claimed that there was a high probability of finding large quantities of oil and gas in the area.

Although this is very recent news, and the permission granted is simply to reaserch the possibilities, and not actually drill for oil, the move is sure to draw criticism from environmentalists.

The Canary Islands remain one of the most seismically active areas of the world and scienctists fear that any underground drilling activity such as 'fracking' could trigger a chain of events with serious consequences.

The Island of El Hierro is has been expereincing an earthquake 'swarm' where almost 13'000 activities have taken place since July 2011. Off the southern coast of the Island and underwater volcano is still erupting, producing a lava mass which is solidifying and pushing a crater nearer to the surface.

Perhaps more contraversialy, the neighbouring island of la Palma has long been associated with having the potential to cause a 'super tsunami'. It is feared that even the slightest tremor could cause a major landslip into the ocean which could devastate the east coast of America.

Whislt exploring new energy reserves is critical for the future of the country in the medium term, and the benefit of the economny in the short term, hopefully the government will insist on safe procedures being employed in this process.

Read previous news stories about seismic and volcanic activity in the area by clicking HERE .

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