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'Millions of barrels of oil in Swedish waters'

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 'Millions of barrels of oil in Swedish waters'
15:15 CET+01:00
A Swedish prospecting company has applied for permission from the government to drill for oil in the Baltic sea bed. The head of Oljeprospektering AB (Opab) believes that the company may be able to extract up to 300 million barrels of oil from an area south of Gotland, the largest island in the Baltic Sea.

The company must await a reply from the trade ministry before it can begin drilling for oil on the outer edge of the Swedish economic zone, 120 kilometres east of the Blekinge region, close to the borders of Lithuania and Latvia.

"If possible, we hope to begin late in the summer of 2008," Opab's CEO Torgny Berglund told the TT news agency.

Sweden's Baltic neighbour Poland already extracts oil from a source just 65 kilometres away from the proposed site, pumping between 15,000 and 20,000 barrels a day from its economic zone. But Opab believes that it could extract around 50,000 barrels of oil from the Swedish zone.

"There could be a maximum of up to 300 million barrels. Because Opab is a Swedish company, this would provide the state with substantial tax revenues," said Torgny Berglund.

If the company's calculations are correct, the site contains enough oil to meet twenty percent of Sweden's oil needs for two decades.

But Opab must first convince the government that moves to begin drilling would not have a negative environmental impact on the Baltic Sea.

Not since 1987 has an attempt been made to drill for oil in Swedish waters. On that occasion, Opab failed to find oil in Hanö Bay south of Blekinge.

"Now we are closer to areas where oil has previously been found," Said Berglund.

Opab is a subsidiary of Svenska Petroleum Exploration, a company owned by Mohammed Al-Amoudi, a Saudi Arabian/Ethiopian businessman ranked by Forbes in 2006 as the 77th richest person in the world.

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