OIl drilling off Libya to start within weeks: BP

24th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

British oil giant BP will start drilling off the Libyan coast in a few weeks, a spokesman said Saturday, stressing it would take into account any lessons learned from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

"We expect to begin the first well in the next few weeks," spokesman David Nicholas told AFP, adding that the 2007 deal signed with Libya to explore the Gulf of Sirte included commitments to drill five wells.

Although he could not give a detailed timeframe, he said: "These wells can take six months or more to drill."

The future of deep-sea drilling has come under scrutiny following an explosion in April on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which killed 11 workers. It sank and sparked a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP's Libyan well, at about 5,700 feet under water, is deeper than the well beneath the Deepwater Horizon, but Nicholas said the company took the risks involved "very seriously".

"It's something we have spent a long time planning" in partnership with the rig operators Noble, the spokesman said.

He added: "If there are any lessons obviously that come out of the investigation into what happened on the Deepwater Horizon, we will apply those to our drillings across the world."

BP's deal with Libya, which was signed in 2007 and ratified the following year, has come under renewed scrutiny in recent weeks amid claims by US lawmakers that it was linked to the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, convicted of blowing up a US airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people, was released from a Scottish jail last year because he had terminal cancer.

A US Senate committee will hold a hearing next week on claims that BP lobbied for his release to secure the Libyan oil deal, which both Britain, the devolved authorities in Scotland and BP all deny.

© 2010 AFP

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