September 25, 2012 / 11:21 PM / 7 years ago

Total chief warns against Arctic drilling: FT

LONDON (Reuters) - Energy companies should not drill for crude oil in Arctic waters because the environmental risks are too high, Total SA Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie said in the Financial Times on Wednesday.

The newspaper described de Margerie’s comments as the first time a major oil company has publicly criticised offshore exploration in the Arctic.

The risk of an oil spill in such an environmentally sensitive area was simply too high, according to de Margerie.

“Oil on Greenland would be a disaster. A leak would do too much damage to the image of the company,” he said.

Earlier this month, Gazprom OAO delayed the start of oil production at its Prirazlomnoye field, the first Russian Arctic offshore oil deposit to be developed, due to safety concerns.

The Arctic is seen as a key source in the next decade for Russia, the world’s largest oil producer.

Plans to drill for crude in the Arctic have raised concerns among environmental activists, who launched protests last month at the offshore platform that operates the Gazprom project.

Reporting by Stephen Mangan. Editing by Andre Grenon

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