Lloyd’s of London to Arctic would-be drillers: Slow down

"Think carefully about the consequences" Photo by Christiane Badgley

The Guardian is reporting that Lloyd’s of London, the world’s largest insurance market, has voiced concern about proposed offshore Arctic drilling. The company says clean-up of any spill would present, “multiple obstacles, which together constitute a unique and hard-to-manage risk.”

Reading the article, several paragraphs jumped out because they could also be useful for policy makers in Africa, many of whom are jumping on the drilling bandwagon without having adequate safety and emergency response systems in place:

Richard Ward, Lloyd’s chief executive, urged companies not to “rush in [but instead to] step back and think carefully about the consequences of that action” before research was carried out and the right safety measures put in place….

Other than the direct release of pollutants… there are multiple ways in which ecosystems could be disturbed, such as the construction of pipelines and roads, noise pollution from offshore drilling, seismic survey activity or additional maritime traffic….

And this particularly relevant bit of information:

The Lloyd’s report notes that there is no international liability and compensation regime for oil spills. An EU proposal under discussion would apply to offshore oil projects in the Arctic territories of Norway and Denmark, and possibly to all EU companies anywhere they operate.

Meanwhile, a task force is drawing up recommendations for the intergovernmental Arctic Council on an international instrument on marine oil pollution designed to speed up the process for clean-up and compensation payments, due for release next year. This may include an international liability and compensation instrument.

That’s right: No international liability and compensation regime for oil spills.

Lloyd’s calls for sizeable investment in infrastructure and surveillance to enable “safe economic activity” and recommends that companies run “full-scale exercises based on worst-case scenarios of environmental disaster.”

I would like to see one full-scale exercise of this nature that has been carried out in the Gulf of Guinea.

Read the article here: Arctic oil rush will ruin ecosystem, warns Lloyd’s of London

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