Spain’s Industry Ministry has authorized Madrid-based oil major Repsol to drill up to three exploratory wells off the Canary Islands, a major tourist destination.
The resolution published Wednesday in the official gazette allows Repsol to carry out the oil exploration project at three sites off the Atlantic archipelago: Sandia, Chirimoya and Zanahoria.
The Sandia and Chirimoya prospects each have total depths of about 3,000 meters (9,840 feet), while Zanahoria has a total depth of roughly 6,900 meters.
Prior to starting the drilling campaign in waters some 50 kilometers (31 miles) off the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, the Spanish oil major must install seismic monitoring devices on their coasts.
Repsol obtained its first licenses to drill for oil in that offshore area in 2001, but Spain’s Supreme Court canceled them due to a lack of legally required environmental safeguards.
Finally, in 2012, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s administration granted new drilling licenses on condition the company conduct an environmental-impact study.
Repsol must take out a 40-million-euro ($53-million) insurance policy and post an additional 20 million euros ($26 million) in collateral to cover possible environmental and other damages before it can begin drilling.
The resolution also states that drilling must be halted if an earthquake of magnitude-4.5 or greater strikes within a 75-kilometer (46-mile) radius of one of the sites.