Norway to study Barents drilling, cool on Lofoten

OSLO, March 11 Fri Mar 11, 2011 6:31am EST

OSLO, March 11 (Reuters) - Norway will conduct an impact assessment study of oil and gas exploration in a recently delineated Barents Sea zone soon after Russian authorities ratify the sea boundary deal, the government said on Friday.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said a pact struck with his coalition partners also excluded an official impact study of oil drilling in the fish-rich waters off the Lofoten archipelago in the Norwegian Sea until this parliamentary term ends in 2013.

However, informal "information gathering" that could later be used in an impact study may still take place, he said.

"(The new management plan) reconciles the goal of developing jobs and businesses in the north with concern for fish and the environment," Stoltenberg told a news conference.

"The government will maintain exploration activity for oil and gas and allow the oil industry access to interesting exploration areas within an environmentally safe framework."

(Reporting by Oslo newsroom)

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