Canada not ready for major offshore spill -watchdog

Tue Feb 5, 2013 11:05am EST
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* Canada seeks to boost exports of oil, gas, metals

* EU, United States worried about risks of Canada oil

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Canada's offshore petroleum boards are not equipped to cope with a major spill, the country's environmental watchdog said on Tuesday in a report that also said regulators could struggle to handle a booming resource sector.

Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan, who said officials were not carrying out enough inspections of resource projects in the north, suggested that unless Canada tightened its oversight, customers for Canadian resources might be deterred by the country's environmental record.

The report is sensitive for the ruling pro-business Conservatives, who expect some C$650 billion ($650 billion) of new investments in natural resource projects over the next decade and want more extraction of oil, gas and metals.

"Considering the central role of natural resources in today's Canadian economy, it is critical that environmental protections keep pace with economic developments. In this report ... we found numerous shortcomings," Vaughan wrote.

"These shortcomings leave me concerned that environmental protection is failing to keep pace with economic development."

Vaughan said Canada would not be ready to deal with a major spill such as the Deepwater Horizon BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.   Continued...