BRUSSELS—Today, Gabriella Zanzanaini, Director of European Affairs for Food & Water Europe, spoke at a press conference held by Green party Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) about the safety of the 27 deepwater oil drilling facilities in the North Sea after the Gulf of Mexico disaster.
“Before the BP disaster, both oil companies and the U.S. Minerals Management Service said that there was a zero percent change of this ever happening, which led to complacency in terms of safety checks and development of safety technology,” said Zanzanaini. “The EU must not let this happen.”
According to Zanzanaini, the major oil companies in the U.S.—Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Shell and Chevron—earned $289 billion dollars in profits over the last three years, and spent $39 billion in the exploration of new wells—but spent only $20 million dollars a year on research and development devoted to safety.
“The EU must make sure that the development of safety technology is given as much priority as the development of drilling technology,” said Zanzanaini.
Over the past decade, the oil and gas industry spent $839 million lobbying U.S. officials—contributing to the cozy relationships between oil and gas industries and regulators there. Zanzanaini urged that the EU system should make sure independent bodies carry out inspections, separate from the body granting licenses. The EU should ensure that Member States implement this separation and raise the bar on the quality of inspections, not only the number. Finally, she urged the EU to refrain from allowing companies to operate on safety based on voluntary schemes—again, using the U.S. Minerals Management Service as a model not to follow.
Other speakers included Michele Rivasi, MEP (France), Bart Staes, MEP (Belgium), Bas Eickhout, MEP (Holland), and Sandy Luk, a lawyer with Client Earth.
Contact: Gabriella Zanzanaini, +32488409662, gzanzanaini (at) fweurope.org