| Offshore Drilling
On the 20th April 2010 an offshore drilling rig in the US Gulf coast exploded, killing 11 workers and leading to the release of an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the marine environment. It is one of the worst environmental disasters ever recorded and has highlighted the risky business of offshore oil drilling and the devastating impacts that can result from such activity. The event has also acted as a catalyst for a European and global response to ensure that lessons are learned and actions are taken to fully protect against oil spills from offshore installations.
Seas At Risk is working at the European and OSPAR level to advocate a precautionary response and has been calling for a moratorium on all new offshore oil drilling, and at least all such new drilling in deep and otherwise hazardous waters, until such time as the existing weaknesses attributable to offshore oil drilling have been properly dealt with by new regulations and procedures, that are in force and fully implemented, across the entire OSPAR and European regions.
Despite a moratorium in EU waters looking unlikely due to the powerful interests of some Member States involved in offshore drilling, it is clear that a number of significant reforms are essential in order to protect the marine environment. Investigations into offshore drilling in the US, the UK and Norway (see links below) all give good reason for strong international regulation and have shown how relying solely on the relationship between offshore drilling operators and national authorities is not adequate enough. In European and adjacent waters, a robust and united approach to safeguarding against an oil spill and the lives of rig workers is essential.
In a largely positive 2010 European Commission Communication on ‘Facing the challenge of the safety of offshore oil and gas activities’ there is the potential for EU action that would enable improved safety measures and better protection of the European marine environment. Seas At Risk will continue to work at the EU, and OSPAR level, to ensure that such measures are taken. For more information on our demands, read Seas At Risk’s response to the EU consultation on offshore drilling below.
Photograph by the European Commission
NGO statement on behalf of Bellona, Oceana, Seas At Risk and Client Earth
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Seas At Risk 2011 response to the EU consultation on offshore oil drilling
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Seas At Risk 2011 submission to the OSPAR Commission on the need for a moratorium and key failures noted in UK and US reports into offshore drilling.
European Commission Communication
European Parliament resolution of 7 October 2010 on EU action on oil exploration and extraction in Europe
US Presidential Investigation
UK Select Committee report
Norwegian Investigation summary