Canada to talk with Greenland on offshore drilling

Thu May 27, 2010 5:18pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canada will ask Greenland for more information on its plans for offshore drilling in the waters separating the two jurisdictions, responding to heightened international concerns about environmental precautions.

But with no immediate plans by the oil industry to drill in Canada's Arctic territory, Canada has no need to match U.S. restrictions on Arctic drilling that were announced on Thursday, Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice said.

Prentice said he will talk with Greenland officials at a June 9 meeting of Arctic environment ministers about the licenses it has issued for drilling in its territorial waters in the Davis Strait. The meeting will take place in Greenland, a self-governing territory of Denmark that lies across the Davis Strait, an arm of the North Atlantic Ocean, from Canada.

"We want to have a robust discussion at that time about exactly what licenses have been issued, when the drilling would happen, under what conditions, and with what contingency plans," Prentice told Reuters.

Prentice said Canada has good relations with Greenland's home-rule government and has already signed and environmental agreement over the protection of polar bears.

"We have a good working relationship, but obviously we share the Davis Strait and if there is an environmental occurrence in the Davis Strait it is going to effect both Canada and Greenland," he said.

Some environmentalists have called on Greenland to put its aggressive drilling plans on hold, pending more information on the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

Among the companies that have exploration operations or expressed interest in drilling off Greenland are Cairn Energy Plc, Noreco and Faroe Petroleum Plc. Cairn is set to drill Greenland's first exploratory well in a decade this July, according to media reports.   Continued...