Northern News Services
Published Thursday, March 22, 2012
David Hamilton, member of the National Energy Board, foreground, and Gaetan Caron, board chair and chief executive officer, head an information session last Wednesday about the board's review of the safety and environmental requirements for offshore drilling in the Arctic, which was published in December. - Katherine Hudson/NNSL photo
It was one of many questions posed to the National Energy Board (NEB) during its information session in Inuvik last Wednesday at Ingamo Hall.
Three months have passed since the board published its review of the safety and environmental requirements for offshore drilling in the Canadian Arctic – spurred by the world watching in horror as millions of barrels of oil spilled from BP's Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago for about three months. It was one of the largest oil spills in history.
Inuvik resident Billy Turner said the board has reaffirmed the same-season relief well policy – where an applicant must demonstrate the capability to drill a relief well to kill an out-of-control well during the same drilling season – is based on the capacity of industry and a "little too long, given the fragile aspects of the environment of the Arctic."
"That's the best that you can come up with is the same-season relief well and that's up to 90 days of oil just pumping into the Arctic Ocean. I find that unacceptable and a nightmare and beyond a worst-case scenario," said Turner.
Gaetan Caron, board chair and chief executive officer, said if companies want to try something which is equivalent or better than a same-season relief well, the board will be open to hearing their application.
"We'll look at it on a well-by-well basis, try to persuade us," he said, adding that there is no "cookie cutter recipe" for Arctic offshore drilling applications.