OIL: High Costs, High Stakes on the North Sea

Swept by waves up to 90 ft. high and wind gusts of hurricane velocity, Europe's North Sea is one of the world's most inhospitable places to look for oil and gas. Since drilling began there more than a decade ago, in a gamble by five nations to wrest black gold from Northern Europe's front yard, at least 21 lives have been lost in drownings and other mishaps. The North Sea has also been terribly unforgiving of mechanical mistakes. Supporting buoyancy tanks ruptured last year on a new gas-production platform, sending its legs crashing...

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