Canada Reviewing Arctic Exploration, Drilling Regulations

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Canada’s National Energy Board is undertaking a review of their Arctic exploration and drilling regulations. Scott Gedack is the NEB’s project manager for Arctic off shore drilling review. He says a review of policies was originally scheduled for 2009.

Since the 1970s, Canada’s arctic energy development policy has required that companies applying to explore and drill in Canadian Arctic waters must have contingency plans in place that would enable them to drill a relief well within the same season a primary well is drilled to respond to a blow out.

The Montreal Gazette recently reported that briefing notes for the NEB chairman’s address to a legislative committee contained documents that said drilling a relief well would likely take three years rather than being accomplished in the same season as required. Gedack says the notes did not refer to a specific situation but rather was a scenario raised in the context of questioning about the policy. He says the current regulation clearly requires same season relief well drilling.

Gedack says Canada has had only one arctic project proposal in the last 20 years, called Devin Pactoa, applied for in 2004. He says currently there are no active wells in the Canadian arctic or applications pending before the National Energy Board.

Alongside the US federal government’s restructuring of the Minerals Management Service – the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council is pulling together 10 experts from around the country to review and analyze everything related to the Deepwater Horizon blow out in order to prevent future disasters.

Alaska is undertaking its own review, examining all regulations and statutes related to ultra deep drilling and off shore activity.

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