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No.moritorium on Arctic oil drilling EU says

10 Oct

The European parliament’s industry committee has rejected attempts to introduce a moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, overruling a contrary vote by its environment committee last month.The key vote in the industry committee yesterday (9 October) instead proposed a new directive to ensure that companies have “adequate financial security” to cover the liabilities that could be incurred by any accidents.Drilling companies would also have to submit to national authorities a safety hazard and emergency response report at least 24 weeks before the planned start of operations.A plenary vote in December will now consider one surviving amendment from the environment committee vote, which would impel member states to refrain from licencing drills unless an effective accident response can be guaranteed.The European Commission had initially proposed a binding EU-wide regulation, but the industry committee’s vote instead plumped for a directive, which member states can choose how to enforce according to their regional standards.”Questions have been raised about the significant revocation and amendments of existing equivalent national legislation and guidance [a regulation] might entail,” said the parliamentary rapporteur, Ivo Belet (European People’s Party)
.”Such redrafting would divert scarce resources from the safety assessments and inspections on the field,” he added.British oil industry representatives used similar arguments, according to minutes of a stakeholder peer review meeting at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.”Implementing the Regulation would tie-up considerable resources in both industry and regulators … taking them away from the ‘front line’ where the hazards are,” representatives of Oil and Gas UK said.After that meeting, the head of the European Commission’s coal and oil unit, Jan Panek, invited the Oil and Gas UK representatives to a separate bilateral meeting on the legal instrument and requirements in the regulation, which took place in April 2012. Tip of the iceberg Environmentalists suspect that this was the tip of a lobby iceberg. “This vote had the fingerprints of oil lobby all over it,” Greenpeace spokesman Joris den Blanken told EurActiv.Amid intense industry lobbying, EurActiv has learned that the oil giant Chevron offered MEPs on the committee a free trip to its offshore Alba platform on 12-14 July, involving two nights stay in an Aberdeen hotel, helicopter trips to the platform, and several briefings.But a Chevron representative informed EurActiv that the trip had not in fact gone ahead, due to “organisational reasons” on which she declined to elaborate.

http://m.guardiannews.com/environment/2012/oct/10/europe-rejects-ban-arctic-oil-drilling?cat=environment&type=article

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