UK rejects calls to halt Arctic oil drilling
LONDON -- The United Kingdom government has rejected lawmakers' calls for a halt to Arctic oil and gas drilling, despite renewed safety concerns following the recent grounding of Shell Kulluk rig off Alaska, saying that securing global energy supplies was paramount.
The United Kingdom government's comments come as after Shell said it had safely towed the Kulluk rig to safe harbor on Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska. The government said that while it recognized the risks of drilling for hydrocarbons in the sensitive Arctic region, high environmental and drilling standards, efforts to enhance oil spill prevention and response mechanisms would be more effective than a ban.
The government was responding to a report from the United Kingdom parliament's Environmental Audit Committee in September last year, which recommended an immediate moratorium on Arctic drilling until safety is improved. The lawmakers want to see a pan-Arctic oil spill response plan, research showing that response techniques will work in extreme conditions and the introduction of stricter financial liability rules for oil and gas companies operating in the area.
The United Kingdom has no power over the Arctic, but it does have observer status on the Arctic Council, a grouping of eight Arctic states that discusses Arctic issues.
Dow Jones Newswires