Canada to review Arctic drilling rules
A recent request by major oil companies operating in Canada to soften a requirement to drill relief wells in the country’s part of the Beaufort Sea in the same season as any blowout is looking less and less like it will be granted.
The request was made by Imperial Oil, BP, Chevron Canada, Shell Canada and ConocoPhillips Canada.
On May 11 Canada’s National Energy Board, or NEB, said it was starting a review of Arctic safety and environmental offshore drilling requirements because of the disastrous blowout and resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
A May 12 article in the Calgary Herald about NEB’s announcement reported that critics of Canada’s current offshore drilling requirements contend that offshore petroleum projects in the U.S. portion of the Beaufort Sea — i.e. Alaska — must undergo much tougher environmental assessments than offshore projects on the Canadian side.
“We need to learn from what happened in the Gulf,” NEB Chair Gaétan Caron said. “The information taken from this unfortunate situation will enhance our safety and environmental oversight.”
Full details of the review will be announced in the near future, when the focus in the Gulf of Mexico shifts from stopping the leak and protecting the environment to understanding what happened.
The NEB said “the process will be public and consultative,” and “welcome the participation of other regulators.”
Cancels same-season relief well reviewIn its announcement, NEB said it was scrapping hearings into maintaining a same-season relief well for offshore wells.
Currently, there is no offshore drilling in Canada’s Arctic and no applications for drilling are before the NEB.
The NEB is an independent federal agency that regulates several parts of Canada’s energy industry. Its purpose is to “regulate pipelines, energy development and trade in the Canadian public interest.”