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Egypt Says May Reduce Rigs After Red Sea Oil Spill

Source: Reuters 6/23/2010, Location: Africa

Egypt is considering reducing the number of oil rigs operating in the Gulf of Suez after an oil spill polluted a stretch of Red Sea coast popular with tourists, the oil ministry said.

Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy said in a statement the spill was limited, that the government was investigating the source of the spill, and called for the creation of a fund to help prevent further pollution.

"A decrease in the number of oil rigs in the Gulf of Suez is under consideration," the statement, issued on Tuesday, said.

There are more than 180 oil platforms currently working in the Gulf of Suez, it added.

An official in the Red Sea city of Hurghada said last week that the oil spill had contaminated parts of a 20-km (12.43 miles) stretch of coastline home to at least four tourist villages.

/ Hurghada, famed for its resorts and diving, draws millions of tourists to Egypt a year. Tourism contributes some 11 percent of the country's gross domestic product and is a vital source of jobs and foreign currency.

Local authorities and several shipping firms used machinery and solvents in an effort to clean up the contamination, the official said.

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