Canada is Unprepared for Offshore Oil Spills
Have We Learned Nothing from the BP Oil Spill?Canada's Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Scott Vaughan, has looked into what would happen if oil and/or gas leaks happened off the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador or New Scotia, where there is currently a big exploration and production book. What he found is rather troubling: Not only are Canadian taxpayers on the hook in case of a major incident because iability limits for oil companies have not been adjusted in decades, but the country is not ready at all to handle a major oil spill. This environmental Damocles Sword that hangs over Canada's Eastern seaboard is unacceptable and shows that something is seriously wrong with the country's oversight of its oil & gas industry.
The various agencies on the federal and provincial levels all have plans to deal with spills and leaks, but they don't match and are inconsistent with each other, and jurisdictional issues could slow down a response, allowing more environmental damage to take place. These plans would also need to match with the plans of the corporations doing the oil & gas work, and they would be the first to deal with any problems.
On legal liability for damages, the Chronicle Herald writes:
The absolute liability limit for offshore damages and costs in Canada is just $40 million. This compares to limits of $75 million in the United States and $250 million in the United Kingdom.
Norway and Greenland both have unlimited liability, while Norway also requires insurance of up to $1 billion. (source)
You'd think that the 2010 BP oil spill would have taught everyone a lesson, and that no government or hydrocarbon company would want to be stuck with such a disaster, but apparently not. We are still unprepared, and dragging our feet...