RIGA - Environmental Minister Raimonds Vejonis has said that ambitions to produce crude oil in Latvia - a dream among certain businessmen that is now feasible thanks to high prices - are not serious.
"This is not a serious initiative, it is almost fooling about. I am very cautious about the prospect of extracting oil in Latvia, as it may cause environmental pollution. Where there is oil extraction, there are usually also pollution problems," Vejonis said.
He also pointed out that oil extraction would require large investments, whereas there is not much oil underground or beneath the sea. He described the prospects of drilling for oil in the Baltic Sea as "altogether problematic," as it would cause several ecological threats.
"I am more against it than for it," the minister said, reminding that the Baltic Sea had been assigned the status of an especially sensitive environment.
The government has already designated several oil exploration and drilling territories in western Latvia. Specialists estimate that the best prospects for oil extraction are in the Gudenieki district.
In early January, the Economy Ministry issued the first license for oil exploration and drilling on Latvia's mainland. The license was issued to businessman Alvils Bausenieks and two companies 's GotOilResources Ltd and Loon Energie Inc.
In 2004 the company Odin Energi received the first license for oil exploration and drilling in the Latvian zone of the Baltic Sea, and TGS Nopec received two licenses in 2002 only for exploration of oil deposits in Latvian waters. o