Forum Highlights Need for Multi-National Oil, Gas Development Regulation

A forum in downtown Anchorage Tuesday highlighted the need for a new look at multi-national regulatory systems which deal with oil and gas development. Dr. Betsy Baker, with the Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and the Environment, addressed the Institute of the North as part of  the Institute’s Week of the Arctic program.  Dr. Baker authored a paper focusing on U.S. and Canadian oil and gas regulations – with an emphasis on  how they compare with one another and how they line up with the Arctic Council’s  Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Guidelines. Dr. Baker and her colleagues began their research into the differences in regulations before the disastrous Deepwater Horizon spill of last year.

Dr. Baker is the lead on a white paper series which compares regulations for offshore development in Canada, Greenland, the U.S. and the Russian federations. She says there’s a number of areas in which the U.S. and Canada can coordinate or “harmonize” their regulations, but in other areas they have opposite approaches.

Dr.Baker says “harmonization” does not mean making all regulations identical, but aims to make selected rules on both sides of the US-Canada boundary more uniform. Her paper is aimed at offering tools to regulators to help them identify which areas are the best candidates for harmonization.

She says the role of industry standards is an important component in reaching more uniform oil and gas regulation, but that the U.S. and Canada have differing ways of incorporating those standards into a regulatory regime.

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