You are here

NGO issues Arctic oil spill recommendations

25th September 2013

Pew Charitable Trusts releases Arctic oil spill recommendations report ahead of new regulations proposed in 2014

NGO issues Arctic oil spill recommendations
New regulations for the exploration of oil and gas in the US Arctic Ocean are expected to be proposed by 2014

A US-based NGO has released a report in which it highlights the need for adequate standards and technology and offers guidelines for the safe development of hydrocarbons in the US Artic Ocean. The report comes in the wake of new regulations to be proposed next year for oil and gas exploration in the area.

 

The Pew Charitable Trusts’ new report is titled “Arctic Standards: Recommendations on Oil Spill Prevention, Response, and Safety”. The report stresses the need to strike a “balance… between responsible energy development and protection of the environment” in the icy covered region coveted by several oil majors around the globe.

 

“The Arctic Ocean is ice-covered for eight to nine months of the year, with almost complete darkness for nearly three of those months,” the document reads, whilst highlighting that even during the summer the icy region “still experiences high seas, wind, freezing temperatures, dense fog, and floating ice hazards”.

 

The report further adds that an oil spill in the Arctic would have a “profoundly adverse impact” on the region’s marine ecosystem.

 

In an effort to modernise US regulations to include Arctic-specific technology and equipment standards to prevent spills, these are some of Pew's recommendations:

 

Vessels, drilling rigs, and facilities should be built to withstand maximum ice forces and sea states that may be encountered;

Equipment needed to control a spill, such as relief rigs and well-control containment systems, should be designed for and located in Alaska’s Arctic so they can be readily deployed;

Spill response equipment should be located in Alaska’s Arctic and be sufficiently robust to remove oil caught in ice-infested waters and trapped under ice;

Redundant systems—including blowout preventers, double-walled pipelines, double-bottom tanks, and remotely operated controls—should be installed because equipment and logistical access is unavailable for large parts of the year due to harsh weather or ice cover;

Arctic offshore drilling operations into hydrocarbon-bearing zones should be limited to periods when the drilling rig and its associated spill response system are capable of working and cleaning up a spill in Arctic conditions.

 

New regulations for the exploration of oil and gas in the US Arctic Ocean are expected to be proposed by 2014.