Canadian regulators review safety procedures for Arctic drilling

As Chevron Canada has begun drilling the country’s deepest offshore oil well in the North Atlantic off Newfoundland, Canadian national and provincial energy regulators are reviewing safety requirements for offshore drilling to prevent a disaster similar to the Deepwater Horizon accident.
The provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced yesterday that it will be assessing its offshore oil spill prevention and response. It placed Captain Mark Turner, an expert in marine safety and environmental management, in charge of starting the review.

“The oil industry around the world is watching the events unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico and what lessons can be learned from the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig,” said the Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, Minister of Natural Resources. “Our government is acting responsibly to retain an expert in this area to review current industry practices and ensure the industry has the best possible prevention and response procedures in the world.”

An independent review of the legislative and regulatory rules in place for the province for prevention and remediation of oil spills was ordered last week.
On another front, Canada’s National Energy Board is reviewing procedures for Arctic drilling, Bloomberg reported.

The National Energy Board will announce the details of the review in the “near future,” according to the statement. It takes the place of a separate review the Board had begun into the need for Arctic operators to be able to drill relief wells during the same season. The watchdog said there is currently no offshore drilling in the Arctic and it hasn’t received any applications for such a project.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada’s offshore drilling rules are safe, Bloomberg said, but the opposition Liberal Party pressed for a review and said a moratorium could be necessary if current rules aren’t sufficient.