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Shell oil exploration off Guiana stalled -Le Monde

PARIS, June 13 | Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:45am EDT

(Reuters) – The French government has put on hold plans by Royal Dutch Shell to drill for oil in four exploratory sites off the coast of French Guiana while it carries out a review of how permits are awarded, Le Monde newspaper said on Wednesday.

Shell had been expecting to receive authorisation on Thursday to begin looking for oil in the sites 150 kilometres off the coast of the French overseas territory, the paper said.

Instead, it will have to wait for an “in-depth and general” study to be carried out into the issuing of oil permits, the paper quoted the French ecology and energy ministry as saying.

The goal for the new government under Socialist President Francois Hollande is, according to the paper, to revise the French mining code that governs such matters, as previous reforms of it had barely taken into account the environment.

This reform is a priority for new ecology minister Nicole Bricq, the paper said.

The Zaedyus oil basin, at a depth of 6,000 metres, could generate production of 300 million barrels of oil, “an opportunity for France to reduce its black gold imports and a godsend for Guiana, where unemployment is very high”, Le Monde cited Shell France head Patrick Romeo as saying.

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