Norway Maintains Consent for Statoil's Barents Sea Well

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has reviewed the appeal lodged by Bellona and Natur og Ungdom concerning our decision of November 12, 2004 granting consent to Statoil's drilling of exploration well 7227/11-1S in the Barents Sea with the mobile rig Eirik Raude. We maintain our decision and have forwarded the matter to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs for further processing and decision.

Our consent relates to the second planned exploration well in the Barents Sea after the area was re-opened for exploration drilling.

The plan is to start drilling as soon as the Eirik Raude has completed its drilling activity for Norsk Hydro in the Barents Sea.

Bellona/Natur og Ungdom appealed the consent decision. The Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT) has also received an appeal regarding the discharge permit for this exploration drilling activity.

As part of the PSA's regulatory responsibilities for safety, emergency preparedness and working environment in the petroleum activities, we have coordinating tasks in relation to other authorities with independent regulatory responsibility. This includes SFT.

Therefore, the appeal process has been coordinated between the SFT and the PSA, and there have been ongoing dialogue and clarifications between the two agencies underway.

The PSA's comments, forwarded to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (ASD), which is responsible for a formal resolution of the appeal, conclude that we maintain our consent decision.

The SFT has simultaneously provided its comments to the Ministry of the Environment. SFT also recommends that the permit be upheld.
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