Spain clears Repsol to start drilling off Canary Islands

MADRID Wed Aug 13, 2014 5:43am EDT

1 of 2. Antonio Brufau, Chairman of Spanish oil company Repsol, is seen on a screen as he speaks during a ceremony to present the company's strategic plan, in Madrid March 28, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Andrea Comas

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MADRID (Reuters) - The Spanish government has given Repsol the green light to begin a $7-billion oil exploration project off the Canary Islands.

Industry Ministry Jose Manuel Soria said last month that Repsol would start prospecting three months after approval was granted.

In 2012, the government granted permits for exploration off the coasts of the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, but they were frozen while courts heard a number of appeals following widespread opposition over the potential environmental damage.

Despite protests by political parties, unions and environmental groups, Spain's Supreme Court rejected appeals against the ruling in June.

The industry ministry gave the permits to begin prospecting the so-called Canary-1 and Canary-9 sites, found in the Atlantic off the coasts of the two islands, according to the government's official gazette on Wednesday.

The permits were granted to Repsol and its project partners Woodside Energy Iberia and RWE Dea AG [RWEDE.UL], the gazette said.

(Reporting by Paul Day; Editing by Carlos Ruano and Pravin Char)

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