Europe agrees on review of offshore drilling

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OSLO, Norway (AP) — European coastal nations agreed Friday to review rules for offshore drilling, but said each country should decide individually on how to improve safety oil rig safety to avoid disasters like the Gulf of Mexico spill.

Amid opposition from Norway, Britain and Denmark, a German proposal suggesting a suspension of some deep-water drilling operations was rejected at a meeting of 15 European nations and the European Union in the west coast city of Bergen.

A compromise text adopted at the two-day meeting recommended countries review permits issued for “drilling activities in extreme conditions” and said they should learn from the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf.

“Concrete measures will be decided upon by individual countries,” Norwegian Environment Minister Erik Solheim said. He said European countries will jointly assess what is “best practice” in offshore safety, but added that an agreement about “international regulation anyway would have been weaker than Norwegian security standards in the oil sector.”

Norway has announced that it will not authorize new deep-sea drillings until the Gulf spill has been evaluated.

In a joint statement, environmental organizations including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Seas At Risk and World Wildlife Fund, said they were “deeply disappointed about the lack of concrete measures” at the gathering of environment ministers and other officials.

EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik attended the meeting along with envoys from Norway, Germany, Denmark, Britain, Belgium, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.