oil and gas

  • ITK and ICC reject calls to end oil and gas activity in the Arctic

    uploaded by: Cara Di Staulo

    channel: Isuma News

    ITK, Inuit Circumpolar Council say cautionary, case-by-case approach needed to development projects.


    Chris Plecash

    July 15, 2013 

    Leaders representing Canada’s Inuit at the national and international level are calling for a cautionary approach to oil and gas development in the Arctic and rejecting a Greenpeace-led campaign demanding a ban on offshore drilling and a moratorium on onshore hydrocarbon extraction in the region.

    Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) and the Inuit Circumpolar Council say it’s up to Inuit communities to determine how resources in their territories are developed, not Greenpeace and other organizations based outside of the Arctic Circle.

    Duane Smith, president of Canada’s Inuit Circumpolar Council branch, said that there are a variety of positions on resource development amongst the region’s Inuit, and it’s their decision whether or not projects like mining and offshore drilling take place on their settled territory.

    “Some are in favour, some are not. We would prefer to take a cautionary approach to development matters so that our respective Inuit regions are fully engaged, involved, and receiving benefits that they feel are appropriate for the development taking place in their areas,” Mr. Smith told The Hill Times.

    ITK president Terry Audla, whose organization represents the 55,000 Inuit living throughout the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern Quebec and Labrador nationally, said that his organization does not favour “development at all costs.” 

    Rather, the pace of development needs to be determined by Inuit communities living within each of the four regions settled under modern land claims agreement.

    “In each of those modern land claims agreements, there’s a requirement that Inuit participate and co-manage their renewable and non-renewable resources,” Mr. Audla said. “The advantage is that Inuit have 20-20 hindsight because of their isolation. We can look at what went wrong [elsewhere], what’s been done right, and try to build those into any development.”

    The comments from Mr. Audla and Mr. Smith are in stark contrast to the Joint Statement of Indigenous Solidarity for Arctic Protection that was released on May 13, two days before Canada assumed its two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council in Kiruna, Sweden.

    The strongly worded statement was signed by 41 representatives from Arctic communities and civil society, and demands a ban on offshore drilling in the Arctic shelf, a moratorium on Arctic onshore drilling, and that all “extraction and industrialization” of land require the informed “explicit consent” of indigenous inhabitants.

    “Our culture and history cannot be bought off and replaced with pipelines and drill rigs. Our way of living defines who we are and we will stand up and fight for our nature and environment,” the document’s preamble states. “Our rights and ability to sustain ourselves must not be trampled by others’ endless hunger for profits.”

    Organized by Greenpeace, the statement includes signatories from five of the eight Arctic Council member states—Canada, Russia, the U.S., Denmark, and Sweden. A number of representatives of Arctic Council permanent participant groups also signed the document, including Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus, who is international vice chair of the Arctic Athabaskan Council. Chief Erasmus could not be reached for comment.

    Other permanent participant organizations to have members sign the declaration included the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, and the Saami Council.

    The Inuit Circumpolar Council is also an Arctic Council permanent participant. Mr. Smith acknowledged that his organization has members who oppose oil and gas development in their territory.

    “Some of the Inuit regions have a lot of experience dealing with these issues and some don’t have any at all. The position is going to be varied amongst each of those areas because of that,” he said.

    Kiera Kolson, a Greenpeace campaigner and member of the Dene Nation, defended the statement opposing Arctic resource development. She said that it was not a Greenpeace initiative—the organization only helped to “create the space” for the groups to come together and develop the statement at the 2012 Indigenous Peoples of the North Conference held in Northern Russia.

    “We’re dealing with a very aggressive government right now where the indigenous voice and indigenous inherent rights are being undermined,” Ms. Kolson told The Hill Times. “We will continue to challenge reckless development because the [developers] don’t have the solutions for a large-scale spill. The fact of the matter is that oil drilling is dangerous.”

    Canada has made no secret that it plans to make Arctic economic development its top priority during its chairmanship of the Arctic Council, and mineral and hydrocarbon resources are expected to spur that development.

    Briefings notes prepared for Health Minister and Arctic Council Chair Leona Aglukkaq (Nunavut) ahead of her October 2012 Arctic tour, obtained by The Hill Times through the Access to Information Act, identify development for northern peoples as the overarching theme of Canada’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Three sub-themes are identified: Arctic resource development, responsible and safe Arctic shipping, and sustainable circumpolar communities.

    The notes, part of a discussion paper for consultation with Arctic stakeholders, identify natural resource development as “central to the economic future of the circumpolar region.”

    “Arctic Council initiatives could be built around and support Canada’s priorities to increase investment and development in the Northern resource sector,” the paper suggests in reference to existing priorities under the Conservative government’s Northern Strategy. “Initiatives should highlight and reinforce Canadian leadership in this area, and engage industry and the business community.”

    There has been extensive oil and gas exploration throughout Canada’s Arctic waters, but currently no producing wells. That’s expected to change in the coming years as waters remain open for longer periods of time, allowing for more industrial activity by all Arctic Council members.

    Mr. Audla acknowledged that Arctic resource development posed a challenge to the people who live in the region.

    “When it comes to non-renewable resources, there’s nothing sustainable about it,” he said. “It’s a matter of responsible extraction and extracting it and shipping it in a way that is not a detriment to the wildlife, habitat, and the health of our people.”

    However, he added that the Inuit should not be told by outsiders what they can and cannot do in their own territory.

    “For an outside group to try to dictate to us how to manage development is just not right. We can manage our own affairs,” Mr. Audla said. “The next step is for the rest of the world to [deal with] their over-reliance on oil and emission-causing activities need to be stemmed. In the meantime, Inuit are not going to be taxed and told they can’t develop while the rest of the world is.”


    Twitter: @chrisplecash



    Read more

    uploaded date: 22-07-2013

  • Can Big Oil handle the Arctic?

    uploaded by: Cara Di Staulo

    channel: Isuma News

    National Post

    Claudia Cattaneo

    CALGARY • With the public increasingly worried about oil spills, some aboriginal groups calling for an Arctic drilling moratorium, and the oil industry as keen as ever to tap Northern deposits, oil spill response preparedness was a big topic of discussion at the Arctic Council meeting in Sweden this week.

    As Canada, which has large untapped deposits under the Beaufort Sea, assumed its chairmanship on Wednesday, the group of the eight nations that surround the North Pole signed a pact on oil spill prevention in Kiruna, Sweden’s most northern city.

    Coinciding with the meeting, the London-based International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP), whose member companies produce more than half of the world’s oil, was eager to talk about industry efforts to improve handling of oil spills in Arctic environments, which it says have advanced significantly in recent years.

    Non-governmental organizations such as the OGP and Greenpeace requested observer status at the council but their requests were denied.

    The OGP, which had hoped to use the platform to engage and collaborate with those with an interest in Arctic oil-spill response, said much progress was made in the past year as a result of the establishment of a joint industry program (JIP) focusing on key areas of research.

    The initiative is funded and supported by nine international oil companies — BP PLC, Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, Eni S.p.A, ExxonMobil Corp., North Caspian Operating Co. (NCOC), Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Statoil ASA, and Total S.A.

    “A lot of time our stakeholders do not know that industry is extremely collaborative in particular areas, especially in oil-spill response. We do not see this as a competitive aspect of the business, so we are working together to strengthen our oil-spill response,” Becky Peavler, the program’s executive committee chair and a ConocoPhillips employee, said in an interview.

    “When an incident occurs, it affects all of us. So we have a history of working together to be able to solve and advance the oil spill response capabilities.”

    The initiative involves six major areas of research, said Joseph Mullin, who took over as manager of the program after a 40-year career with the U.S. government, with the last 25 dedicated to managing its oil-spill response research program.

    With the help of company experts and scientific institutions, the program is probing into what happens to oil when it’s dispersed under ice, the environmental impacts of oil spills and the trajectory of oil spills in icy environments.

    It’s also looking at the effectiveness of remote-sensing to detect oil spills, the mechanical recovery of oil in ice and at controlled burning of oil.

    “Every oil spill is different, so you want to have all the tools in the tool box to be able to use,” Mr. Mullin said in an interview. “You want to be able to respond with mechanical recovery. If mechanical recovery is not effective, then you also have other response options, such as in-situ burn and the use of dispersants.”

    The international effort has drawn Canadian expertise, including input from Ottawa-based SL Ross Environmental Research Ltd., a world authority on the in-situ burning of oil spills, a technique studied in Canada since the 1970s in support of drilling in the Beaufort Sea. One of its principals, Ian Buist, was chief research engineer for Dome Petroleum Ltd. on oil-spill prevention and control for the Beaufort Sea program.

    Of course, there are plenty of doubters, and incidents such as BP PLC’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 don’t help. Royal Dutch Shell PLC had its own problems recently with two drill ships, the Noble Discoverer and the Kulluk, that suffered serious accidents in the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

    Canada has had its share of oil disasters, such as the sinking of the Ocean Ranger in 1972 and the Cougar Helicopter crash in 2009, both in Newfoundland’s frigid offshore.

    Greenpeace said cleaning up an oil spill in the Arctic is a risky endeavor.

    “It’s experimental, the companies have not done this before, they don’t know how to deal with an accident, they don’t know how to prevent an accident and there is simply no response capacity in any of the Arctic states to deal with what could be the worst environmental disaster in history,” Christy Ferguson, the Arctic project leader for Greenpeace Canada, told CBC News this week.

    Some Aboriginal groups from Arctic countries including Russia, Canada and Greenland signed a statement of “indigenous solidarity” this week calling for end to drilling in the Arctic shelf.

    “There are no effective and tested methods to prevent or clean up oil spills in the freezing Arctic seas,” they said in the statement signed by representatives of 42 aboriginal organizations, including Canada’s Dene Nation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.

    Others rejected the statement, which they say was orchestrated by Greenpeace as part of their anti-development campaign.

    “We are the stewards of our own Arctic homeland, we are the negotiators of what takes place in our own back yards, and we will weigh and determine the cost-benefit of development for ourselves as a people,” said Duane Smith, President of Inuit Circumpolar Council, Canada. “We certainly have no need or appetite to invite environmentalist groups to come to the Arctic and do the work under their logos and on our behalf.”

    Mr. Mullin said industry has conducted research in Arctic oil spill response for the past 40 years that has involved hundreds of studies, laboratory and basin experiments and field trials.

    Industry recognizes that an oil spill in the North poses unique challenges, including being far away from infrastructure, long periods of darkness, extreme cold, ice and high operating costs.

    Ms. Peavler said there are also some advantages relative to cleaning up oil spills elsewhere. For example, she said ice is a natural barrier that helps with mechanical recovery. It also reduces the height of waves, which helps with in-situ burning and dispersant techniques.

    With so much oil being found in tight formations closer to energy markets, many Arctic deposits remain an asset for the long term. In Canada, the Arctic exploration was at its height in the 1970s and 1980s thanks to federal tax breaks. While substantial oil and gas deposits were found, they were not large enough to justify the cost of production. Some exploration has been done in recent years in the Beaufort, but progress has been slow.

    Still, more than 500 wells have been drilled in Arctic environments since the 1920s. In addition to Canada, four other Arctic countries — Greenland, Norway, Russia, and the United States – have seen offshore oil exploration, development and transport.

    Arctic operations – offshore and onshore combined – have produced some 40 billion barrels of oil and 1100 trillion cubic feet of gas, and onshore and offshore Arctic production accounts for 15% of world energy supply.

    “As an industry, we are trying to understand where all of our operational areas can be, so it’s worthy to be prepared to be good stewards of the environment,” Ms. Peavler said. “That is why our efforts are going on expanding our capabilities for oil spill response in the Arctic.”



    Read more

    uploaded date: 17-05-2013

  • Cairn Wasn’t Prepared for Offshore oil Spill

    uploaded by: Cara Di Staulo

    channel: Isuma News

    Cairn wasn’t prepared for offshore oil spill near Greenland: report

    "A significant underestimate of the flow rate of oil into the marine environment in a worst-case blowout scenario"


    The Ocean Rig Corcovado, drilling about 180 kilometres offshore Nuuk, drilled down 4,847 metres in 2011, having encountered “minor hydrocarbon shows.” (FILE PHOTO)

    Just how prepared was Cairn Energy PLC was for its drilling for oil offshore western Greenland in 2011?

    That’s what Inuit Circumpolar Council-Greenland and Oceans North Canada hoped to learn in a third-party technical review report they recently commissioned.

    ICC and Oceans North say their report, released last week, shows there’s a need for stronger independent scrutiny and more public participation in the regulatory process governing offshore drilling.

    “Although the technical review showed that indeed some best practices were followed, there are still an overall need for strengthening the procedures and practices,” ICC said in an introduction to the report.

    In the spring of 2012, ICC and Oceans North Canada commissioned the independent third-party technical review of Cairn Energy’s 2011 offshore oil exploration drilling program in western Greenland.

    In 2011, Cairn completed the second year of its offshore drilling program there.

    But by the end of that season, Cairn said it had not found commercial quantities of oil and gas, and that they would do no offshore drilling in Greenland waters in 2012.

    ICC-Greenland concluded that this “pause” in exploratory drilling provided a chance to review aspects of the completed project and to look at strengths and weaknesses in the planning and execution of the project.

    The resulting report concludes there appeared to be weaknesses in Cairn’s oil spill prevention and contingency plan for 2011, including what seemed to be “a significant underestimate of the flow rate of oil into the marine environment in a worst-case blowout scenario.”

    The review by investigator, Susan Harvey, who has more than 25 years experience as a petroleum and environmental engineer, also assessed the drilling project in comparison to other Arctic countries.

    “This report demonstrate that there is a pressing need to open the environmental impact assessment process to third parties (citizens and civil society organizations). When it comes to reducing the risk of environmental damage caused by offshore drilling, a more transparent process can only result in stronger protection of our marine environment,” said ICC.

    The final report “Project Review: Cairn Energy’s 2011 Offshore Drilling in West Greenland,” now posted online, also provides a detailed account of the information provided to ICC-Greenland by Greenland officials.

    “More importantly, the report provides a detailed account of what has not been provided,” ICC said.

    That’s because much of the information needed to review the safety of the offshore drilling program was not made available to the reviewer, ICC said.

    This lack of information, despite meetings, correspondence and formal requests, frustrated ICC-Greenland’s attempts “to become more informed and to participate in this conversation about the future of renewable and non-renewable natural resources.”

    Jens-Erik Kirkegaard Greenland’s minister of natural resources defended Cairn in a recent interview in Greenland’s Sermitsiaq AG newspaper.

    “Cairn Energy had a response that was larger than the worst-case scenario they had described. Aircraft and ships were ready to intervene if the worst should happen,” said Kirkegaard.

    Although Kirkegaard rejected that part of the criticism, he said welcomed ICC’s initiative to analyze preparedness for an oil spill.

    “You can always make things better, and so do we, among other things by working together with associations and organizations and talk about how we can make things better. We are a small people, and we need all the strength to make things even better,” he said.

    Kirkegaard also promised to make things more open and have a better dialogue with the public.

    To that end, Greenland’s home rule government and ICC have agreed to meet regularly for discussions on environmental issues.



    Read more

    uploaded date: 22-04-2013