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Russia may toughen rules on offshore extraction - energy minister

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Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said on Monday rules regulating the development of Russia's offshore deposits may be toughened following a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said on Monday rules regulating the development of Russia's offshore deposits may be toughened following a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Shmatko told journalists that despite different extraction conditions in Russia's offshore areas and in the Gulf of Mexico, lessons should be learned from the disaster, which is a major threat to the flora and fauna of the Gulf.

"This clearly has to increase the responsibility of oil companies operating in the shelf area," the minister said.

He did not specify what measures would be taken to ensure the safety of offshore oil and gas extraction, saying "we are discussing various criteria."

Shmatko said the ministry has kept a close eye on the situation in the Gulf of Mexico and added that Deputy Energy Minister Sergei Kudryashov will fly to the United States to study the situation.

An explosion ripped through the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) off the Louisiana coast, in April, causing a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil continues to gush from the broken well into the sea despite a month of work to stop the leak.

According to estimates by specialists, the oil spill is affecting around 20 protected areas of the United States and threatens some 40 types of marine mammal.

A total of 930 vessels and some 6,000 National Guard troops are involved in a cleanup operation.

U.S. President Barack Obama has laid the responsibility for the disaster at the British Petroleum company operating the stricken rig.

Russia, along with other countries, has offered its assistance in tackling the consequences of the oil spill.

NOVO-OGAREVO, May 24 (RIA Novosti)

 

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