Canadian government scraps Arctic offshore drilling extensions

Canada will not offer extensions of existing Arctic offshore oil exploration licences to the companies – including some big-name players – that hold them, according to Bloomberg.

Last month Canada and the US jointly announced the suspension of new oil and gas drilling leases in almost all the two countries’ Arctic waters.

The difference was that the US administration of President Barack Obama declared its ban as permanent whereas Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government was allowing for a review of the decision after five years.

Now an online statement on the website of the department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), says lease extensions will not be granted.

The five current exploration licences – all in the Beaufort Sea – are held by BP, Exxon-controlled Imperial Oil Resources Ventures, Conoco-Phillips, Chevron Canada and Franklin Petroleum Canada. They expire variously between 2019 and 2023.

When Canada and the US made their joint announcement on December 20 the Canadians said that existing leases would not be affected without consulting the industry.

But that pledge appears to be contradicted by the online statement.

The five lease holding companies bid $1.4bn in total for their leases.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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