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NEWS: Setting fire to Arctic oil spills as a clean-up strategy

The Globe and Mail reports, “As the oil and gas industry works to convince Canada’s energy regulator that it can safely drill in the Arctic’s deep waters, it is proposing some creative – and controversial – methods to clean up spills in sea ice: using fires set from helicopters to burn oil and even the propeller blades of icebreakers to disperse it.”

“Filings submitted to the National Energy Board by Chevron Corp. and Imperial Oil Ltd. provide a glimpse into how companies would respond to a massive leak like the BP Deepwater Horizon fiasco in a northern setting. They outline the use of numerous techniques, including ‘herding agents’ designed to chemically coalesce oil slicks, as well as huge aircraft to spray dispersants and crews to burn oil. …Imperial Oil Ltd., for example, suggests using a C-130 Hercules aircraft to spray dispersant. Such a method could disperse 15,000 barrels a day ‘of relatively fresh oil’, the company says. But Chevron, in its document, points to the ‘extreme difficulty’ in properly applying the dispersant from the air, a problem that becomes so severe in ice that it’s not worth doing.”

Chevron, the third largest lease holder in the Arctic, has an exploration license for 205,000 hectares of seabed off Yukon’s north coast, about 100 kilometres north of Herschel Island. Imperial Oil and ExxonMobil Canada have also secured exploration rights. In 2008, BP acquired three licenses for exploration rights in a 6,000 square kilometre area about 180 kilometres off the coast of the Northwest Territories in the Beaufort Sea.

The Associated Press has reported, “The US Geological Survey estimated in 2008 that the Arctic Circle has about 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil, 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. Combined, that would total 22 per cent of the world’s undiscovered petroleum resources. About 84 per cent of those oil and gas reserves are estimated to be offshore.”
To read about the Council of Canadians ‘Leave It In the Ground’ campaign, go to

The Globe and Mail article is at