Subject: Greenpeace in Sea Buy-up plan (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Wed, 26 Mar 1997 21:40:19 -0500 (EST)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 97 04:03:00 GMT 
Subject: Greenpeace in Sea Buy-up plan

Greenpeace in Sea Buy-up plan

  By Paul Riddell, PA News
   Environmental group Greenpeace has launched a bid to halt oil and gas
exploration off the western coast of Britain by bidding for a licence to a huge
section of sea.
   The body, whose profile rose on the back of its campaign against dumping the
Brent Spar oil buoy, has offered  3,000 for the latest round of Government
production licenses.
   It wants to use the 22,000 square miles of the Atlantic for research into
marine life instead of exploiting it for fossil fuels which may contribute
further to global warming.
 Greenpeace believes it has fulfilled all the requirements of the application
providing a detailed workplan.
   An in-depth scientific study of whale movement in the area would form part
its activities.
   A spokesman dismissed suggestions that the bid was a "stunt" designed to
gain further publicity and claimed the group wanted to enter into a mature
debate with Mr Lang over global warming.
   Industry sourcessaid the exploration licences themselves cost just under
 3,000 - with the real costs being sunk into drilling for oil and gas,
construction and production.

   The Department of Trade and Industry, which is expected to award the 17th
round of licences prior to the general election, refused to dismiss the
application out of hand.
   A spokesman said the documents submitted by Greenpeace were being examined
see if they met the threshold criteria and regulations laid down when the round
was advertised in the Official Journal of the European Communities.
   Chris Rose, Greenpeace's deputy executive director, said: "Our plan is to do
what the Government should do and set aside these 22,000 square miles instead
drilling for oil. Our aim is to set a precedent where the Government has failed
to act.
   "Human-made climate change has to be stopped and meeting eco limits means
placing a limit on fossil fuels.
   "Opening 22,000 square miles of pristine ocean for new oil development is
hardly a limiting exercise - it's madness fuelled by greed."
   The environmental group, whose campaign against oil giant Shell allied with
massive international backing forced the company to ditch plans to dump the
abandoned Brent Spar in the Atlantic in 1995, claimed that while the Government
wanted to limit fossil fuel, its policy was to increase its development.
   The group would not exploit the blocks, which stretch from north of Shetland
right down to the coast off Cornwall, because of the "insanity" of
contributing to further climate change.
   In a letter to the President of the Board of Trade Ian Lang, Mr Rose said:
"We are firmly of the view that there is currently no justification for
extracting oil from this area.
   "We hope that, as outlined in your official announcement, you will judge our
application `against the background of the continuing need for expeditions ...
and with due regard to environmental considerations'," he added.
   Citing evidence from the Intergovernmental Panelon Climate Change and the
European Union's policy to keep the global mean temperature rise to two degrees
Celsius above pre-industrial levels, Mr Rose said the carbon "budget" stood at
585 billion tonnes.
   "This is considerably less than the fossil fuel resources currently
as `economic' reserves which currently stand at over 1,000 billion tonnes of
 Mr Rose said: "The greatest implications for you to consider are the effect
such development has on our ability to control the rate of climate change in
next century, via the expansion of fossil fuel supply.
   "A simple analysis of carbon cycle models indicates that we cannot avoid
dangerous rates of increase of temperature and sea level if we extract and burn
all known reserves of fossil fuels."
   He added: "The inescapable conclusion of this climate logic is that the
over-riding need for UK energy and industrial policy, just as for other
industrialised countries, is to ensure that most oil, coal and gas remain below
the ground and to promote investment in the alternatives to fossil fuels."
   Mr Rose stated that initial research conducted in the area revealed the
importance of deep sea life forms in the Atlantic was high.
   "If you reject our application and allow the oil industry to open up new
sea reserves of fossil carbon you will be unleashing an enormous expansion of
the oil industry in Europe, with implications for frontier marine environments
around the world and for the expansion of fossil carbon reserves in other
regions," he said.
   But the oil companies' umbrella organisation, the UK Offshore Operators'
Association, said Greenpeace could not be considered as a serious contender for
the licences.
   Bryan Taylor, UKOOA's director of technical affairs, said: "The licences are
for exploration for oil and gas.
   "I cannot imagine that Greenpeace's application would be taken seriously
because they would not fulfil the necessary DTI requirements.
   "It's difficult to believe that this is a serious application. I would be
reluctant to accuse them of pulling a stunt. There is no way they will be able
to extract the nation's oil and gas reserves."