OSPAR ignores drilling reports and hopes for the best
Barcelona, 10th March 2011. OSPAR countries have chosen to ignore damning reports concerning offshore oil drilling, opting against immediate action. Instead, they have decided to hope for the best by choosing to continue drilling in extreme conditions whilst no substantial safeguards have been put in place since the Gulf oil spill.
At the OSPAR Offshore Industry Committee meeting, eleven of the contracting parties met to review the results of investigations into drilling conditions and to consider taking action to prevent an oil spill from offshore oil rigs, as agreed at last year’s Ministerial Meeting (where no immediate action was taken).
However, instead of taking a precautionary response and imposing a temporary suspension of offshore oil drilling activities, OSPAR countries decided to continue drilling for oil at all cost. Choosing to ignore the deeply concerning reports that have emanated from the US and UK on offshore oil drilling, OSPAR contracting parties have indeed failed to impose any strong and immediate safeguards.
No immediate measures were agreed to prevent against a low probability, high impact event - such as the Deepwater Horizon Disaster - and now it is only longer term efforts to shore up many of the inadequate practices, procedures and regulations governing offshore drilling that will hopefully act as safeguards - but only in the future.
Until such a time, and as regard the scope of the OSPAR Convention, the North East Atlantic is being put at a considerable risk.
At the meeting, Seas At Risk and member organisation Surfrider Foundation Europe, called 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 region.
During the meeting, OSPAR Contracting Parties did not meet the proposal with strong and reasonable arguments against the appropriateness or necessity of a moratorium, but rather it was met by silence; perhaps a telling signal that the current pursuit for oil is too strong a force to quell, whatever the possible environmental cost.
For more information on the Seas At Risk submission: