EU to extend 'polluter pays' fines
Brussels - The European Commission on Friday proposed new rules to force oil-drilling companies to pay for pollution caused up to 200 nautical miles off European coastlines.
Under the proposals, the "polluter pays" principle for damages by oil and gas companies will be extended to 200 miles (about 370km) against the current 12 nautical miles.
"Today, most oil and gas in Europe is produced offshore, often in harsh geographical and geological conditions. Given our growing energy demand, we will need all the oil and gas from beneath our seas," said EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger.
"But we need to prevent accidents like Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico from happening," he said.
The April 2010 blast killed 11 people and sent some 4.9 million barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf over a three-month period, wreaking havoc on the region's environment and economy. It took BP 85 days to stem the flow from its leased rig.
Europe's worst oil disaster was the 1988 destruction in a fire of the Piper Alpha rig off Scotland in July 1988, which killed 167 men. The rig was later judged to have been ill-maintained and overcrowded.
Of 1 000 platforms in the EU, 486 are in waters off Scotland and the northeast of England, 181 in the Netherlands, 123 in Italy and 61 in Denmark with a handful each in Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Poland, Romania and Spain.