C-NLOPB says more will be done to prepare for major oil spills, but spill prevention must remain the priority2/5/2013
While it is the responsibility of offshore Operators to prevent oil spills from occurring and to respond to any spills that do occur, the C-NLOPB acknowledges that more can, and will, be done to prepare for a major oil spill.
Max Ruelokke, Chief Executive Officer of the C-NLOPB, welcomed the report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (CESD) as fair and balanced, but said the priority of Operators and the Board must continue to be spill prevention and risk reduction.
“Of course, it is very important that offshore Operators, the C-NLOPB and governments be ready to respond to a major oil spill,” said Mr. Ruelokke, “but it is even more important to keep oil out of the marine environment in the first place. Our efforts have been directed primarily at spill prevention. Spill statistics for the Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area illustrate that this is the right approach.”
Under the legislation, offshore Operators are responsible to reduce the risks from identified hazards to a level that is ‘as low as reasonably practicable’ and have responsibility to respond to a spill of any size should one occur. The C-NLOPB would only take over spill response if the responsible offshore Operator was not doing an adequate job.
The audit found that the C-NLOPB exercises due diligence when assessing and approving offshore projects and ensures that Operators comply with environmental requirements and respond adequately to reported spills.
“I am pleased to see that the Commissioner acknowledged many of the good things being done by the C-NLOPB and also identified areas where improvement is needed,” said Mr. Ruelokke. “We actively seek opportunities for improvement and we have already begun to take action on the Commissioner’s observations.”
The C-NLOPB is stepping up efforts to complete an assessment of the local industry’s oil spill preparedness capability by March 31, 2013.
“We are confident that the oil companies operating in the Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area have the expertise and resources necessary to respond effectively to a major oil spill as they are required to submit Spill Response Plans to the C-NLOPB for review as part of the authorization process,” said Mr. Ruelokke. “Ensuring Operators continually evaluate and demonstrate the currency of their spill response capability is an important and ongoing activity of the
C-NLOPB. Our review of the Operators’ 2009 assessment was delayed so that we could fully consider the results of the Macondo accident, especially the report of the US Presidential Commission and the Newfoundland and Labrador Government’s Turner report, but we are back on track to complete this work.”
The C-NLOPB is working with officials in Natural Resources Canada and other federal agencies to ensure there are consistent, well coordinated emergency response plans in place and that these plans are exercised regularly. The C-NLOPB has also begun updating the supporting Memorandums of Understanding with federal departments and other agencies.
The C-NLOPB will strengthen the manner in which annual risk-based audits are developed so that audit programs are aligned with goal-oriented regulations.
Mr. Ruelokke said that the reason that the C-NLOPB is a world-class offshore regulator today is because of its commitment to change and improvement. “We are constantly seeking ways to improve the offshore regulatory regime, to make offshore activities safer and more environmentally responsible, and to improve our own performance as a regulatory agency.”
Sean Kelly M.A.,APR, FCPRS
Manager of Public Relations
(709) 689-0713 (cell)