Norwegian energy group Statoil said on Friday that an oil spill by one of its ships in the Norwegian sea is clearing up.

Norwegian energy group Statoil said on Friday that an oil spill by one of its ships in the Norwegian sea is clearing up, but environmentalists said the accident highlighted the risks of developing the Barents Sea.

The debate over whether to expand oil exploration into the arctic Barents Sea has raised passions in Norway, the world’s third biggest oil exporter, and featured prominently in its September election.

Norway’s centre-left coalition government which took office in October has sided with the oil companies, although the Socialist party, a member of the alliance, is against drilling in the Barents Sea.

Marius Holm from Oslo-based environmental group Bellona said Wednesday’s spill of about 280 barrels of oil showed energy companies cannot explore the Barents Sea for oil without polluting the Arctic region.

‘Politicians believe exploration can be done without any emissions and now we see this is not the case,’ he said.

Statoil discovered the spill from a ship on the Norne satellites in the Norwegian Sea on Wednesday after it had stopped drilling to carry out modifications to the Norne production ship.

‘We have started an internal investigation but it looks like the oil escaped through the water producer,’ Statoil spokesman Kristofer Hetland said.

Water is pumped up along with oil, cleaned and returned to the sea.

Earlier this year, Statoil temporarily halted exploring in the Barents Sea after a leak from a hose on a drilling rig spilled oil about the size of a bath tub.

Hetland said the spill would not reach the coast.

Source : www.planetark.com