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An iceberg in the Davis Strait (JONATHAN HAYWARD)
An iceberg in the Davis Strait (JONATHAN HAYWARD)

Canada to monitor Arctic drill sites Add to ...

Canada's federal energy regulator will station an inspector in Greenland to help ensure the safety of a summer drilling program in iceberg-prone Davis Strait, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said Thursday.

Mr. Prentice has expressed concern that Greenland intends to allow Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy PLC to drill two wells for oil in the Arctic waters, close to Canada's coastline.

The minister was in Greenland on Wednesday for a meeting of Arctic environment ministers and met with his counterparts from the home-rule government to discuss the drilling plan.

"I was impressed with the amount of work the Greenlanders have done and that they are determined to enforce the highest possible environmental standards for Arctic drilling," Mr. Prentice said in an interview.

The Greenlanders have adopted Norway's offshore drilling regulations, considered among the most stringent in the world.

<iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=70.670881,-63.28125&num=1&sll=69.057876,-62.862827&sspn=47.298021,157.324219&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=69.057876,-62.862827&spn=38.382698,157.324219&z=3&output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=70.670881,-63.28125&num=1&sll=69.057876,-62.862827&sspn=47.298021,157.324219&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=69.057876,-62.862827&spn=38.382698,157.324219&z=3&source=embed" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small>

And they have agreed work with Canada's National Energy Board as their regulators conduct frequent inspections of the drilling operation. That includes having an NEB official stationed in Greenland and working with local regulators.

Mr. Prentice said Cairn will have two drill rigs in the area all summer. If there is a blow-out with one rig, the other can immediately begin drilling a relief well, a process he estimates would take about a month, given the shallower drilling depths that the company is targeting.


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