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Vladimir Putin told a defence ministry meeting that he wished to see the military bolster its presence in the territory

North Sea gas plant came close to disaster

A GAS storage platform in the North Sea, with 70 workers on board, has been close to disaster twice this year after two serious gas leaks, which have been blamed on managerial mistakes.

North Sea gas leaks linked to flaw that caused Piper Alpha disaster flaw

A GAS storage platform in the North Sea, with 70 workers on board, has been close to disaster twice this year after two serious gas leaks.

Government wants right to dump 60 oil platforms in North Sea

THE Government is seeking the option of dumping more than 60 oil platforms in the North Sea when they come to the end of their natural lives, despite the international protests provoked by the attempt to dump the giant oil storage buoy Brent Spar.

North Sea oil fields in danger as prices dive

BRITAIN's largest exploration and production company yesterday issued a stark warning that development of the giant Clair Field and some of the 140 small North Sea oil accumulations could be postponed because of rock-bottom oil prices.

Spill closes North Sea oil field

The oil giant Texaco said it had temporarily shut down its Captain field in the North Sea after about seven tonnes of oil were spilled into the sea. A spokesman said the shutdown was ordered early yesterday morning after an incident on the floating production, storage and offloading vessel which serves the wellhead platform.

Minke whale death toll doubles

Fears for the future of minke whales in the North Sea have increased after Norwegian whalers more than doubled their kills. Norway's whaling fleet killed 57 minkes during the latest season, compared with only 23 last year, according to its own figures.

Gulf bid for Clyde escapes MMC referral

Gulf Canada's pounds 432m bid for Clyde Petroleum was given the go-ahead by the Department of Trade and Industry yesterday, which said it had no plans to refer the offer to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The decision increases the pressure on Clyde to convince investors that the 105p-a-share offer represents a dramatic undervaluation of the oil producer's potential.

Shell floats a greener future for the North Sea oil platform no one wanted

The first and most difficult step is to raise the Brent Spar (main picture) out of its deep-water, vertical position so that it can be brought ashore. This could be done by gradually pumping in compressed gas (1), which will in turn pump out the oily sea water inside into a nearby tanker. Slowly, like a huge bottle, the Spar would rise to float on its side - but the danger is that the structure would split and sink, because it was weakened when it was first placed in the vertical position after construction 20 years ago.

Britons to walk on Artic sea

Two British explorers are hoping to become the first men to walk unsupported across the frozen Arctic Ocean. Dr Stephen Martin and David Mitchell plan to begin their trek in the spring.

British Gas gets it wrong again: Comment

Another day, another farce in the affairs of that much loved company, British Gas. This time British Gas has been forced into an embarrassing climbdown on the legal action it launched against the Government last summer to recover pounds 1.2bn in North Sea gas levies. We don't have a case after all, BG admitted yesterday. Which rather begs the question of why it came to launch such a no-hoper in the first place.

Licences for oil exploration to go to highest bidder

Oil exploration licences are to be auctioned off to the highest bidder for the first time in an attempt to encourage greater exploitation of mature areas of the North Sea, the Government announced yesterday.

Poetic licence: The Iso-Bard

Two North American weather channels are aiming to revolutionise TV weather forecasts. But could they ever have the poetry of our home- grown product?

PICK OF THE DAY THIS WEEKEND/Windsurfing North Sea Cup Hythe

The third and penultimate leg of the North Sea Cup and the third round of the United Kingdom Boardsailing Association's National Series at Hythe, Kent, this weekend comprise the largest and most competitive windsurfing regatta in Britain this season, with a fleet of more than 200 sailors. The North Sea Cup, contested by Britain, France, the Netherlands and Belgium, will have an overseas contingent of 70-plus Aloha and Raceboard sailors making their way across the Channel. Among the British entry will be Mark Kay, the Manchester windsurfer who was last year's winner of the Cup series. Racing starts at noon tomorrow allowing the Continental competitors time to reach Hythe and the massed start of the main fleet will be quite a spectacle from the seafront when competition gets under way amid the blaze of multi-coloured sails.

Escape route for British Gas

BRITISH GAS could have deflated its pounds 1.14bn gas bubble that now threatens to cost customers an average of pounds 63 - and made a profit doing so, it has emerged.

Piper Alpha claim

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3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
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