BP oil spill could happen anywhere -Norway

Wed May 5, 2010 8:40am EDT

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* Lessons to be learnt from BP spill -Statoil chief

* No new regulation yet introduced

By Alister Doyle and Joergen Frich

OSLO, May 5 (Reuters) - An oil spill similar to the one in the Gulf Mexico could easily happen in Norway, said the country's environment minister, while Statoil's chief said the Nordic oil nation could learn lessons from the accident.

Environment Minister Erik Solheim said the oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico showed that freak accidents can happen anywhere with current technologies, no matter how tight the safety plans.

"This was not a backyard company in an obscure African dictatorship ... (It was) one of the most well-reputed world companies with a very modern rig in one of the most advanced industrial societies on the entire globe," he said.

"After this no one can seriously claim that this could not happen in Norway or anywhere else," he told Reuters. "If you are not completely blind it will affect everyone on the entire globe."

The Nordic kingdom is the world's fifth largest oil exporter and third largest gas exporter, producing petroleum exclusively from offshore fields in the North Sea.

It says it has one of the strictest safety regimes for oil activity anywhere in the world.

The head of the largest operator in the region, Statoil (STL.OL), said he expected lessons in the United States from the spill to be applied to Norway.

"I believe there will be some learning from the Gulf of Mexico that we can certainly incorporate into our work," Statoil Chief Executive Helge Lund told Reuters.

Norwegian authorities said they will ask oil companies working in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea to apply the lessons of the accident once the precise reasons of the Deepwater Horizon blowout are established.

"Companies working on the Norwegian continental shelf should take into consideration the results of the investigation from the incident in the Gulf of Mexico in their work to improve safety," said Oil and Energy Minister Terje Riis-Johansen.

(Writing by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Keiron Henderson)

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