Two Canadian premiers back offshore drilling

Wed Jun 9, 2010 6:16pm EDT
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Two Canadian premiers still back offshore drilling despite the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, arguing that tighter rules can prevent a repeat of the disaster.

Danny Williams, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador -- the only Canadian province that has offshore oil projects -- said on Wednesday that he has no plans to impose a moratorium on offshore drilling

Indeed, provincial regulators allowed Chevron Corp to begin drilling a deepwater well in the North Atlantic after the Gulf of Mexico spill, though it imposed tough conditions and demanded more frequent inspections.

"I think we're doing everything we can in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to prevent similar occurrences," Williams told reporters in Ottawa following a speech.

"There's no intent by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to impose any moratorium on any drilling at this point in time."

Oil has been gushing into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico since April 20, when a a deepwater drilling rig licensed to BP Plc had a blowout and fire, killing 11 workers.

The failure of the well's blowout preventer left as much as 19,000 barrels per day spewing into the waters of the gulf, causing environmental devastation.

Prior to the blowout, BP and Exxon Mobil Corp were in the early stages of planning to drill in the Canadian waters of the Beaufort Sea, north of the Arctic Circle. Federal regulators were mulling requests to ease rules for drilling in the environmentally sensitive region but have since called a halt, waiting for a clearer picture of what happened in the Gulf of Mexico.

Floyd Roland, the premier of the Northwest Territories, said on Wednesday he wants to see drilling eventually take place in the Beaufort, but wants to be certain that a similar disaster doesn't occur in the remote Arctic waters, where there are no resources to clean up a spill.   Continued...