Picture taken on Feb. 25, 2008, shows a road sign sporting a polar bear notifying motorists of their presence outside the arctic town of Longyearbyen in Norway. AFP PHOTO/DANIEL SANNUM LAUTEN
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Norway awarded Wednesday Arctic drilling licenses to 13 oil companies, including in a hitherto unexplored part of the Barents Sea, provoking condemnation from environmental groups.Three of the 10 licenses, which consist of 40 blocks in total, are in the immediate vicinity of the maritime border with Russia, in an area that the two countries long disputed before an accord was concluded in 2010 .The US government estimated that 4.9 million gallons of oil spilled from the seabed after the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico suffered an explosion on April 20, 2010 that killed 11 people.
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