0
STAFF REPORTER

MADRID
CENTRAL Government said yesterday that it will not ban prospecting for oil in the Mediterranean.
Its decision came after the Senate had discussed a proposal put forward by Balearic representative Pere Sampol.
The motion suggested that after recently granted licenses for exploration had been repealed on grounds of safety and the possibility of contamination of prime tourist areas of the Spanish coastline, including the Islands, oil prospecting should by law, be excluded from Economic Social policy.

The motion was defeated after the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), the Basque Nationalists (PNV) and a Catalonian party (CiU) refused to support a ban. It was the Partido Popular (PP) who had voted in favour along with independent parties including the Catalan Republican Party (ERC).

Paradoxically, the Socialist party in the Balearic Islands had given an oil exploration ban in the Mediterranean its full support and had been keen for the “Bloc” party's Sampol to represent their views in the Senate.

During yesterday's debate, the PP came under fire from PSOE spokesman Luis Carlos Sahuquillo. He said that permits to investigate whether or not oil deposits exist in the Mediterranean “are not the same as giving an automatic right to start drilling operations.” He said that any such license would need to be accompanied by environmental reports and recommendations that “guarantee” respect of marine life and a commitment to keeping the sea free from pollution.

Sahuquillo said that the PP were merely voting against prospecting for reasons of political opportunism and said that in their day, previous PP governments had given 12 licenses for oil exploration. Sahuquillo alleged that the PP were “clearly” capable of opposing the Socialists in debate but then later “doing something different” Basque Nationalist MP, Emilio Olabarria said that it was not appropriate to have clauses related to “banning” a particular activity in an Economic Policy law. His views were echoed by the United Left (IU) but their spokesman described Sampol as “well-intentioned”.