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Red Sea Oil Spill May Have Egypt Reduce Offshore Drills

8 July 2010 No Comment
Oil spill hurgharda

Oil is washed up along the public beach at the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, in southern Egypt, on June 23, which attacks hundreds of thousands of tourists all year round. Egypt's government has said that it is considering reducing drilling. (STR/Getty Images)

As oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, a leak into the Red Sea is causing the Egyptian government to reconsider the number of rigs it operates in sensitive waters.

Egypt’s oil minister Sameh Fahmy said in a statement on Tuesday that his government will consider cutting down on the number of platforms it maintains in the Gulf of Suez after last week’s oil leak.

On June 16, large oil slicks from an unknown source suddenly appeared in the Red Sea. The oil covered an area about 12.5 miles along the coast of Hurghada, a strip known for its scenic beaches and tourist resorts, sometimes called the Egyptian Riviera.

Several hotels complained to the ministries of petroleum and environment, that oil was washing up on their beaches, causing damage and chasing away tourists, according to the Oil Egypt E-Marketplace website.

A government spokesman Magdy Rady on Monday described the spill as “limited,” according to Daily News Egypt.

The leak has now been fixed, according to a June 23 statement by environmental watchdog group Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA). However, the government also thought it had solved the problem on June 18, then on June 21, it was leaking again, according to HEPCA.

“Just today [June 21] I received news that the oil had started leaking again this afternoon after it had stopped Thursday,” Ahmed el-Droubi, a HEPCA biologist told the Associated Press.

HEPCA claims that environmentally sensitive areas have been damaged by the slick.

“The Northern Islands protected area is the most heavily impacted region. These islands are one of the few pristine areas in the northern Egyptian Red Sea, and are of high ecological value as they host a number of key habitats, including mangroves, seagrass beds, protected bird nesting grounds, turtle nesting grounds, and an extensive reef system,” said HEPCA in a statement.

HEPCA says the problem platform was situated approximately 50 nautical miles north of Hurghada, however, Egyptian authorities have not yet revealed the exact identity of the rig.

“This incident clearly reveals that the oil concessions of the ministry must be reconsidered especially any concessions near key habitats, protected areas, and tourism hot spots.”

Egypt currently operates over 180 oil platforms in the Gulf of Suez, reported Reuters.

Source: The Epoch Times

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