Palma.—The international marine conservation organisation Oceana yesterday issued a severe warning to the incoming government that it should withdraw the permits given to the British petroleum company Cairn Energy to prospect for oil in waters between Valencia and Ibiza.

The biggest concern is the alleged damage the prospecting will cause to marine life and the sea bed in the Ibizan Channel.
According to Oceana, some 4'000 kilometres of sea bed “face the risk of being devoured by prospecting” and said that it is willing to join forces with the new government to bring an end to the search for oil in Spanish waters.

Cairn Energy, which produces some 33'000 barrels of oil per day in various parts of the world, was awarded the prospecting permits by the outgoing Socialist government in December of last year but Oceana, with the backing of the former Balearic government and the Balearic Environmental Commission, as well as a host of concerned politicians and high profile individuals, want the permits revoked immediately.

Massive oil field
In a statement yesterday, Oceana said “Cairn Energy wants to transform the Mediterranean into a new and massive oil field and has its sights set on extracting oil off Spain, Syria, the Lebanon and Cyprus amongst other countries in the Med.” The acting Minister for Tourism, Commerce and Industry, Miguel Sebastian has also voiced his opposition to the project which, it is feared, will cause untold damage to an area of the Mediterranean which needs to be protected, not destroyed. Oceana maintains that striking oil in Balearic waters will bring no economic benefit to the region and all that the oil industry is doing is “damaging the global environment, society and economy.” Oceana is in fact proposing the protection of 30 percent of the Balearic Sea to guarantee the future of its ecosystems. Currently only 2.2 percent of the waters of the Balearic Sea are protected areas. Secondly, Oceana is making a specific proposal to create new Marine Protection Areas (MPAs), mainly located in deep sea waters, in order to protect the Balearics' marine habitats.

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