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S.L. Ross to provide the Environmental Impact Review Board with oil spill response information session

Summary:

The Environmental Impact Review Board (EIRB) plans to engage an independent expert service provider, S.L. Ross (http://www.slross.com/), a company recognized as a world expert in oil spill response that provides advice to industry, government departments, and regulatory agencies, to deliver an oil spill response information session for the EIRB. The EIRB is of the view that the use of S.L Ross, as a service provider to deliver this session, does not raise any apprehension of bias, but wishes to give interested parties an opportunity to comment if they have any concerns. The comment period will close at 12 noon MDT on Thursday, 6 August 2015.

Background:

Imperial Oil Resources Ventures Limited (the Developer), on behalf of itself and its joint venture partners[1], is proposing to drill one or more wells within Exploration Licence (EL) 476 or 477 located in the Beaufort Sea in the offshore of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR). These ELs are in water depths that range from 60 m to 1500 m, and lie about 175 km north-northwest of Tuktoyaktuk. The Developer planned to drill these proposed well(s) in water depths of 80 to 850 m during the open water season starting in 2020 but has recently informed the EIRB that there will be a delay in the regulatory filing pending a decision on the tenure of its ELs. (see registry reference [09/13 01] 0135)

The Developer submitted a Project Description for the Beaufort Sea Exploration Joint Venture Drilling Program to the Environmental Impact Screening Committee (EISC) in September 2013. The EISC determined that the proposed development could have significant negative environmental impacts and referred the development to the EIRB for a public review under subsection 11(20) of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA). The IFA requires the EIRB to expeditiously review this proposed development and, on the basis of the evidence and information submitted to it, recommend whether or not the development should proceed and, if it should, on what terms and conditions, including mitigation and remedial measures. The EIRB may also recommend that the development should be subject to further assessment and review. The EIRB commenced the review in December 2013.

As a result of the technical complexity of the proposed Development, the EIRB has implemented a program for Board development pertaining to topics that are critical to the evaluation of the proposed Beaufort Sea Exploration Joint Venture Drilling Program. This program is to strengthen the EIRB’s understanding of the lessons learned from the BP Macondo disaster in the Gulf of Mexico of 2010 and the issues, challenges, associated with exploration drilling in the Canadian Arctic offshore.

One element of this program is to become familiar with issues associated with oil spill response in the Canadian Arctic offshore. To this end, the EIRB plans to engage an independent expert service provider, S.L. Ross (http://www.slross.com/ ), a company recognized as a world expert in this matter that provides advice to industry – including the Developer, government departments, and regulatory agencies. S.L. Ross has investigated every aspect of oil spill countermeasures in the laboratory and in the field. The company’s three particular areas of expertise are in situ burning, dispersant use, and countermeasures for Arctic applications. The company also has considerable experience in equipment for shoreline cleanup and disposal, sorbent testing and evaluation, and has conducted numerous studies on the behavior of oil spills.

The information session, taking place in the fall of 2015, will include oil spill behavior, oil spill counter measures, and Net Environmental Benefits Analysis (a methodology used in evaluating and comparing various counter measures for effectiveness and effect on the environment). The session will be generic, and would not be specific to the Developer’s proposed Beaufort Sea Exploration Joint Venture Drilling Program.

The EIRB is of the view that the S.L Ross (http://www.slross.com/ ) commission to deliver this development session does not raise any apprehension of bias, but wishes to give interested parties an opportunity to comment if they have any concerns. The comment period will close at 12 noon MDT, Thursday, 6 August 2015. Those wishing to provide comments regarding the use of this service provider may do so by corresponding in writing with Richard Binder, EIRB Coordinator at eirb@jointsec.nt.ca prior to the close of the comment period.

If there are no concerns expressed the Board will proceed. If the EIRB receives expressions of concern it will correspond with parties to set out a process for ruling on these concerns

[1] Beaufort Sea Exploration Joint Venture consists of Imperial Oil Resources Ventures Limited (25%), ExxonMobil Canada Limited (25%), and BP Exploration Operating Company Limited (50%).

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EIRB to meet with US Regulators

The Environmental Impact Review Board will meet with United States Regulatory Agencies in Anchorage, Alaska on June 3 and 4, 2015. The principal objective of this meeting is to initiate, establish, and sustain an effective approach and process with United States offshore oil and gas regulatory agencies with the intent of exchanging information on each party’s thinking, experiences, and approaches for safe drilling operations while protecting the environment and responding effectively when things go wrong. This would include the lessons learned for offshore activities in the recent past, regulatory processes and tools as well as proposed changes, and other associated issues as they relate to offshore exploration in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

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