2017 Harvest

2017 Harvest

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Same Season Relief Well issue before the NEB - What will be done in Canada to avoid a repeat of the BP disaster here?

Somewhat ironically, the National Energy Board had started a hearing process in February, 2010 to review its Same Season Relief Well (SSRW) policy, just weeks before the BP drilling rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (relevant documents can be viewed at: MH-1-2010.  BP has been criticized for not having relief wells in place to reduce the pressure in its damaged well that is now spewing oil onto the Gulf coast. 

Here's what BP said in its submission to the NEB in March:
As will be discussed in greater detail below, for both technological and operational reasons, continuance of the SSRW capability is not required and is problematical for BP and other operators, and may well impede further exploration in the Beaufort Sea.

BP is advocating that the policy be changed by eliminating the requirement for same season relief well capability, and any time-of-year drilling restrictions associated with that policy. In BP's view, consistent with the on-going development of goal-oriented regulation, the Board should utilize a series of goals and objectives to enhance safety and protection of the environment.
That was in March.  Of course, in April, BP's operations in the Gulf of Mexico have initiated the worst environmental disaster in the United States since the Exxon Valdez.  Is "goal-oriented regulation", which is the NEB's policy in dealing with safety and the environment, right for Canada?  Where the goal is to avoid environmental disasters, does "goal-oriented" regulation (i.e. set the goal and let industry decide what needs to be done to achieve the goal) do any good?

For its part, Conoco Phillips wrote to the NEB on Monday to suggest that the hearing process be put on hold pending the investigation of the BP disaster: Conoco Phillips to NEB.