As British Petroleum agrees to pay billions for damages stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, they continue to push ahead with increased drilling in the U.S. and abroad. After a series of technical delays, British Petroleum’s field partner, Beach Energy has begun to extract oil from the North Shadwan Concession in the Egyptian Gulf of Suez, a waterway connected to the ecologically vital Red Sea – and a 300 meter oil slick has already been reported in the area.

british petroleum, beach petroleum, gulf of suez, oil drilling, oil spill, oil leak, egyptian oil, red sea, oil prices, oil shortage, middle east, egyptian unrestImage © flickr user Derek Keats

The North Shadwan Concession consists of three previously undeveloped oil discoveries off the Egyptian coast, Bikya Masr reports that the other two are being developed from onshore drilling sites. The shallow-water site has a capped output of 1,000 barrels of oil per day, which will be piped 74 miles north to an export terminal at Abu Rudeis. Egyptian authorities hope that the new site will, according to Green Prophet, help to alleviate “fuel shortages that have disrupted life for vehicle owners who have had to wait in long lines at stations over the last few weeks.”

As this new oil production begins, a 300 meter oil slick has been reported in the Red Sea near to the Egyptian town of El-Tor, and WReporter has conveyed fears that “the spilled oil may affect the Ras Mohammed National Park Marine Reserve, which houses one of the finest coral ecosystems in the world.” Furthermore, “the water could spread to the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.” This incident follows a major oil slick that occurred in the Gulf of Suez in 2010, causing significant harm to marine life in the area, which at the time prompted the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Agency to push for the Egyptian government to exert greater regulatory control over the oil industry.

With BP’s track record of arguably poor self-regulation, and two recent oil slicks off the Egyptian Coast, the increase in drilling poses significant questions about the safety of marine life in the area.

Via Green Prophet

Lead image via Wikimedia Commons