09/09/2011 - Canada should strengthen its capability to handle Arctic oil spills before it allows deepwater drilling in its Arctic waters and it should continue to insist on stringent relief-well requirements, a study released on Friday said.
In the study, the Pew Environment Group asks that environmental rules for the sensitive region be strengthened before new drilling is approved and that greater consultation with the region's indigenous Inuit people take place.
The study by the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts comes after Canada's National Energy Board embarked on a review of Arctic drilling regulations last year spurred by BP Plc's massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
With rising temperatures, Arctic waters are ice-free for longer periods in the summer, making oil exploration and drilling easier. But there is little ability to cope with an oil spill should one occur and the report urges regulators to put stringent standards in place before drillers rush north.
"We want to ensure that the system is ready for the economic benefits as well as the environmental and Inuit concerns that will be on the other side of those benefits," said Louie Porta, an Arctic science and policy analyst at Oceans North Canada and one of the report's authors. "We should take the opportunity to get it right from the beginning."
Read the full article, Canada Must Be Ready Before Arctic Drilling: Report, on Reuters' Web site.