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Palma .—Activists from the environmental group Greenpeace climbed aboard an oil drilling rig in the Norwegian Arctic yesterday, trying to stop energy giant Statoil’s exploration plans in one of the world’s northernmost prospects and the group is then going to target plans by the Spanish energy company Respsol and the Scottish company Cairn Energy to prospect for oil and gas in waters between the Balearics and Valencia and around the Canary Islands.

The anti-prospecting movement has been campaigning for months here in the Balearics and has received the full backing of the Balearic Government and opposition parties.

But, deep down, the opposition Socialists claim that the ruling centre right PPhas jumped on the band wagon to win support from the electorate heading into next year’s local elections but knows full well, that prospecting will go ahead after the general election in 2006.

The PP considers a domestic oil and gas industry as a positive development for a country which has to import 99 percent of its liquid fuel.

An oil and gas industry will also generate much needed extra revenue and create thousands of jobs.

However, Balearic PP senators recently rebelled against central government party orders in Madrid and voted in favour of a motion tabled by the opposition Socialists urging Madrid to cancel the permits which were granted under royal decree to Cairn by the previous Socialist government.

But, if Madrid was to do that, it would face a massive compensation bill which some sources claim central government could not afford to pay.

So, while the debate rages on, Rainbow Warrior will be visiting Valencia, Ibiza and Palma between 8 and 15 June alerting the general public to the dangers and risks of oil and gas prospecting in local waters.