Deepwater drilling doubts rise
- Energy ,
- Water ,
- Prevention & Control ,
- Pollution & Waste Management ,
There are serious doubts that the North Sea oil industry has the capacity to effectively deal with any deepwater drilling emergency similar to last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
That is the conclusion of the House of Commons energy and climate change committee (ECCC).
“The harsh and windy conditions in the North Sea would make an oil spill off the coast of Shetland very diffi cult to contain or clean up,” warned committee chair, Tim Yeo.
Although the ECCC stops short of calling for a moratorium on deepwater drilling and acknowledges that existing safety regulations on drilling in the UK are tougher than they were in the Gulf of Mexico, MPs are concerned that oil companies’ response plans fail to take into account local conditions.
New systems for capping or containing a spill should be designed with the harsh and challenging North Sea environment in mind, they say.
The committee is urging the Health and Safety Executive to consider prescribing the use of the failsafe device (Blind Shear Rams) that failed to operate on the Deepwater Horizon, because its battery was flat, on all UK deepwater rigs.
“Requiring oil rigs to fi t an extra failsafe device, to cut and seal the pipes if a blowout occurs, is an option that must now be considered,” said Yeo.
Meanwhile, the US government is suing BP for the Gulf of Mexico spill, alleging violations of the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act.
“Under the Clean Water Act penalties of up to $4,300 per barrel can be imposed for the 4.9 million barrels spilled. Under the Oil Pollution Act, it can be made to pay for the damages of the spill including all clean-up costs,” comments environment lawyer James Thornton.
The Green Homes Grant is set to deliver only a fraction of the jobs and improvements intended, leading to calls for more involvement from local authorities in future schemes.
COVID-19 recovery packages have largely focused on protecting, rather than transforming, existing industries, and have been a “lost opportunity” for speeding up the global energy transition.
None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.
The UK’s pipeline for renewable energy projects could mitigate 90% of job losses caused by COVID-19 and help deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. That is according to a recent report from consultancy EY-Parthenon, which outlines how the UK’s £108bn “visible pipeline” of investible renewable energy projects could create 625,000 jobs.
Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.
The UK will no longer use unabated coal to generate electricity from October 2024, one year earlier than originally planned, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced.
The UK government is not on track to deliver on its promise to improve the environment within a generation and is failing to stem the tide of biodiversity loss, a damning new report from MPs has revealed.