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Germany

German environment minister calls for North Sea drilling moratorium

Germany's environment minister has called for a break on all new deep sea oil drilling projects in the North Sea. The call comes as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico near its 15th week.

A deepwater drilling rig operates near the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico

Roettgen wants a break on new drilling in the North Sea

With the BP oil spill fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico entering its fourth month, Germany's environment minister, Norbert Roettgen, has called for a moratorium on new oil drilling in the North Sea.

Roettgen said the measure should be taken until an investigation can determine exactly what went wrong in the oil rig explosion that led to the spill off the United States coast, which has become the country's worst-ever environmental disaster.

"We take risks, but we can't take every risk," Roettgen told public broadcaster ZDF. "Without safety there can be no drilling."

Roettgen said, however, he doubted that other North Sea countries would go along with a moratorium.

He added that environmental and safety standards applied to North Sea drilling operations differed from those used in the United States.

Countries straddling the North Sea include Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Britain and Germany.

The calls by the German environment minister come two weeks after European Union Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger called for a halt on deep sea drilling - a demand that was rebuffed by a number of EU states, including the UK.

Individual EU member states are responsible for approving or rejecting drilling proposals in their own waters.

Author: Darren Mara (dpa/AP)
Editor: Rob Turner

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