Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) said Wednesday it can start drilling appraisal wells off the coast of French Guiana after it received the necessary government approval.
The move comes after the French government lifted a temporary suspension on oil and gas exploration in the region.
“We welcome this decision which enables us to move on with the project, following clarification of various aspects of our plans to the interested parties,” said a Shell spokesman, adding: “we are pleased by the strong support shown to the development by the Guianese political and socio-professional representatives.”
Two weeks ago, the French government initially suspended all permits to explore the region–believed to hold promising oil reserves–as it plans to review the country’s mining code to include the consultations with local authorities, stakeholders, as well as stricter environmental protection regulations.
Shell holds a “Guiana Maritime” permit to look for oil with partners that include the French oil group Total SA (TOT), Tullow Oil PLC (TLW.LN), and Northpet Investments.
The permit was issued in 2001, has been extended three times, and is valid until 2016.
Shell is responsible for the drilling and was waiting for authorization from French prefectures to begin.
Although located on the other side of the world from France at the East-Northern tip of South America, French Guyana is a French department and considered French soil.
-By Alexis Flynn
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