The US Department of Interior (DOI) has released new, stricter rules governing any future oil drilling activity in the US Arctic Outer Continental Shelf, according to the Associated Press.
The rules are intended to safeguard the environment in that uniquely challenging region, to protect oil company personnel working there and to preserve the cultural traditions of Alaskan Natives.
Among the new rules are a requirement that oil companies submit a detailed operations plan before filing an exploration request. Operators must prove they are able to quickly deploy containment equipment such as capping stacks in case of well accidents. And they must have relief rigs readily available, too.
Industry spokesmen criticized the rules for being too onerous. Environmentalists were happier but concerned that the door remains open for future drilling.
Oil E&P activity in the US Arctic has been very restricted in the past year with the authorities cancelling federal petroleum lease sales and Shell withdrawing – of its own accord – from drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. No new drilling is planned in the US Arctic.