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Oil drilling inquiry after BP blast

An inquiry will re-consider the risks of deepwater drilling in the west of Shetland, in the wake of the oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico.

A committee of MPs will look at the Government’s ruling out of a moratorium on the drilling. The Energy and Climate Change Committee will look at the hazards of drilling and the impact on UK industry of April’s blast at BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 people.

The inquiry will consider whether the existing safety regime and environmental rules are fit for purpose.

The MPs will also look at whether deepwater oil and gas production is necessary as the UK attempts to move to a low-carbon economy, and to what extent would those fossil fuel resources add to the country’s energy security.

Last month, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said an urgent review sparked by the Gulf of Mexico disaster had found the measures governing the oil and gas industry in UK waters were “fit for purpose”.

But he announced an increase in the inspections of North Sea drilling rigs.

Energy and Climate Change Committee chairman Tim Yeo said the MPs believed “serious questions” needed to be asked about the safety of deepwater drilling off the coast of Scotland in light of the oil spill off the US.

“The committee will be questioning BP and environmental and industry experts to find out whether the Government has made the right decision in ruling out a moratorium on new deepwater drilling in the waters west of Shetland,” he said.

“We will also want to question the industry about whether they consider that the political risk of exploration and investment in the United States needs to be reviewed in the light of the attitude of the Obama administration.”

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