Monday, October 18, 2021

UK seeks clarity on British oil giant’s French offshore exploration plan

The UK is seeking clearer water agreements with France following a row between the two countries over BP’s oil field in the waters off the French island of Mayotte. The British oil giant decided to explore for oil and gas in the country without telling its French counterpart, angering the French president, François Hollande, who has said there would be no business without diplomatic permission. BP signed a

preliminary deal with Bpifrance, the French ministry of transport, in June 2016 to co-operate in the future exploration and development of oil and gas in the French territory. But the plan to drill was abandoned after Hollande refused a potential exploration area for BP, saying the deal was unworkable given the other partners’ position and his anger at the abandonment of Bpifrance’s offer to drill without notifying

his government. BP is part of a consortium of seven companies which won a licence to search for oil and gas in an area of 12,200 sq km. The consortia includes TechnipFMC, Saipem, Total, Centrica and Engie. BP’s initial offer to France included a potential exploration area for shale gas, around 2,5 billion barrels of oil and more than 50 billion cubic metres of gas, equivalent to 5.2bn cubic metres of gas per year and

6.7m barrels of oil per year. Subs water: how Twitter beat the oil companies and the authorities to nature’s fight Read more The row stems from BP and French energy giant Total’s frustration over delays in investment on the island, one of the world’s last French territories. The islands are guaranteed sovereignty by France, a breakaway former colony, but still claim sovereignty over the means of production, which has

increased from 400 barrels per day to 1,400 barrels per day. Environmentalists in the Marshall Islands were also enraged. On 21 February, they called on French ministers to issue a decree banning offshore oil and gas exploration in the La Sévolte Reef in the ecologically rich Marshall Islands. The oil giant has also faced criticism over plans to drill for gas in offshore areas in the Bay of Bengal, in the depths of

the Indian Ocean. BP stopped drilling before it started in the Bay of Bengal on 28 January, after a campaign by Greenpeace and other environmental groups. Last year BP reportedly reduced its investment in the UK continental shelf from about £3bn to just over £300m by 2020, as it focuses on new projects. BP has said it would not drill in Nigeria because of environmental concerns, but oil exploration is continuing in

the Pacific and in the North Sea. BP said in a statement: “BP continues to engage positively with the French authorities on the Mayotte project. We continue to meet the French government as a partner to discuss the details of the Mayotte project and we remain hopeful that the two parties can work together to achieve the desired result.” Total did not respond to questions.

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