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NEWS: Dozens of towns in Nunavut, Labrador would be harmed by Arctic oil spill

The Globe and Mail reports that, “Next month, when the great pan of ice covering Davis Strait flushes south toward Labrador, two leased drilling vessels will steam across the slushy waters and begin boring into the region’s sea floor for the first time in a decade.”
“Some geologists believe Davis Strait, the frosty waters between Greenland and Baffin Island, is one of the richest untapped frontiers in the hydrocarbon world.”

“A 2008 study by the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that 50 billion barrels – more than OPEC heavyweights Nigeria or Libya – lies offshore of Greenland.”

“(But) a spill in the region – even a minor one – would be catastrophic. Dozens of Canadian towns along iceberg alley in Nunavut and Labrador would be coated, their paltry defences overwhelmed.”

“Some Canadian politicians and environmentalists are warning that Greenland’s ambitious Arctic drilling program is moving too quickly and too haphazardly to be safe.”

“Heavy ice conditions can devastate rig operations, and any response to spills must be done with limited resources in a limited time frame.” If a relief well isn’t drilled in the same season, oil could “spew beneath the ice, all over the Arctic, for months and months”.

“Greenland requires only that operators demonstrate they can start drilling a relief well before the winter freeze-up, but not that they can complete it.”

The article also notes that there will be a meeting with Arctic countries early next month. A web-search finds that this refers to the Arctic Council’s Ministers of Environment meeting in Ilulissat, Greenland on June 9-11.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice says he “will urge our northern neighbours to follow Canada’s lead by ensuring strict regulations” at this meeting. But the article doesn’t also mention that Canadian regulations are being weakened and are no substitute for a moratorium. More on that at

In fact, it would appear that the Harper government acknowledges the likelihood of a “massive” oil spill in the Arctic region. The article reports, “Ottawa has been preparing the North for a massive spill for years. In 2007, it began shipping spill kits to northern communities, each containing more than 300 metres of containment boom.”

We will be tracking the Environmental Ministers meeting next month, as well as other key meetings noted on the Arctic Council website:

– Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region
The European Parliament
Brussels, Belgium
September 13-15

– Ministerial Meeting
Nuuk, Greenland
May 12, 2011

Our intervention at the recent ‘Arctic Summit’ in Chelsea is noted at

The full article is at