Arctic drilling standards, spill response get attention at API, DoI

Offshore staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Arctic oil and gas drilling is a major topic in Washington, D.C. The API has urged federal regulators to adopt baseline standards for drilling in Arctic waters, and the Department of Interior has begun an assessment of the 2012 offshore drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

The DoI study will “review practices and identify challenges as well as lessons learned.” It is to include Shell’s efforts to certify a containment vessel, deploy a containment dome, and look at operations of the Noble Discoverer and Kulluk drilling rigs.

Meanwhile, DoI’s Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Arctic Subcommittee has suggested considering spill deployment drills and asked for more review of any plans to clean discharged crude.

“The Obama administration needs to impose Arctic-specific safety, training and spill response standards, and ensure the proper precautions are in place before approving any additional drilling,” Marilyn Heiman, Arctic Program director, Pew Environmental Group said at an API meeting. “Clearly we’re not there yet.”

The United States allows exploration drilling during an open water season after ice pack melt and before freezing starts to encroach on the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. But oil production in the area, however, is likely to be a year-round endeavor regardless of ice conditions.


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