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UK's energy minister gives BP the go-ahead on drilling northwest of Shetland Islands
LONDON (AP) ' The British government on Thursday gave oil company BP PLC the go-ahead to drill a new deepwater well in Scottish waters off the northwest coast of the Shetland Islands.
U.K. energy Minister Charles Hendry said he had approved the well after studying environmental and emergency plans.
Hendry said Thursday the government had carefully scrutinized the oil company's plan for the well 125 kilometers (78 miles) northwest of the islands, which lie off the northeast coast of Scotland.
British legislators last year decided not to impose a ban on deepwater drilling. The decision was made after reviewing the circumstances surrounding the April 20, 2010 explosion at the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon drilling platform, which killed 11 people and sparked the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.
BP spokesman David Nicholas said the company had worked closely with government regulators throughout the planning and approval process for the North Uist well.
"BP has applied lessons learnt from the Deepwater Horizon accident to our drilling organization and capabilities worldwide, and is applying them fully to the planning and drilling of the North Uist well," he said. "The well will be drilled by the Stena Carron, a state-of-the-art drill ship equipped to meet BP's enhanced standards."
He said the vessel has a new blowout preventer ' a key safety device used to control unexpected pressure in a well 'which complies with the company's new, enhanced voluntary standards that were introduced following the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
BP has been exploring the area since the early 1970s, and has extracted 800 million barrels of oil from the region, he said.