Atmosphere & Energy

Conoco seeks hearing delay on Arctic drilling

Industry observers are asking the National Energy Board to delay a hearing into policies for drilling offshore oil wells in the Arctic until a cause can be determined for the ongoing blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Monday was the deadline for responses into the Gulf oil disaster and the impact it might have on Canadian drilling in the Beaufort Sea, where the NEB is being asked to reconsider requirements for drilling same-season relief wells in the event of a blowout.

The board last week requested that participants, which include BP Canada, Imperial Oil, Shell Canada and ConocoPhillips, in addition to the territorial government and various environmental groups, comment on the Gulf spill and ongoing response efforts in the context of operating in the Arctic.

But the majority of respondents said it would be appropriate for the NEB to suspend the hearing until the causes of the Gulf matter were determined.... Read more »

Oil firms seek delay of probe into Arctic offshore rules in light of Gulf spill

CALGARY - Hearings into offshore drilling rules in the Arctic should be put on hold until the causes of a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are determined, a handful of oil companies told the federal energy watchdog Monday.

The National Energy Board was reviewing its policies for drilling in the Beaufort Sea when an oil rig exploded off the Louisiana coast on April 20, spilling an estimated 757,000 litres of oil into the Gulf per day.

"Given this very tragic incident in the Gulf of Mexico, we've asked the parties, 'what do you think we should do about this proceeding?'" said NEB spokeswoman Sarah Kiley.

The Deep Horizon rig, owned by Transocean Inc., was drilling a well for BP PLC when a blast occurred, killing 11 people. Both companies are also active in the Arctic.... Read more »

Sierra Club Canada Calls for a Moratorium on Offshore Oil Drilling

OTTAWA--Sierra Club Canada is calling on the National Energy Board to declare a moratorium on all offshore oil drilling in Canada after the BP disaster off the coast of Louisiana continues to devastate the region. Oil and gas companies, including BP, are currently pushing for an Arctic rule change that would allow offshore oil drilling without drilling relief wells.

“The oil spill in the Gulf is a catastrophe,” said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada.  “Canada should fully understand the causes of the explosion in the Gulf and the failure of the clean up before allowing any more drilling in Canadian waters. In the meantime a moratorium should be put in place.”
... Read more »

Syncrude conviction could unleash flood of prosecutions: lawyer

ST. ALBERT — A conviction on federal and provincial charges stemming from the deaths of 1,600 ducks on a tailings pond could unleash a flood of private prosecutions against oilsands companies, Syncrude Canada's lawyer said Thursday, after a judge rejected his motion to dismiss the case.

Robert White told reporters the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act makes tailings ponds illegal, so a conviction could open the door to environmental groups laying multiple private charges.

"If we're convicted because we have a tailings pond ... there's nothing to prevent Sierra or Greenpeace or anybody else from filing a prosecution," White said.... Read more »

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