How to make oil companies pay for clean up after spill
Oilfield development in Alberta has produced some of the dirtiest oil on the planet.
As oil companies fight for a better share of a dwindling resource, they’re looking for ways to clean up.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which represents the industry, says the spill in June has forced companies to rethink the way they manage spill response, the number of workers and their use of chemicals.
A clean-up plan that included oil spill cleanups in the United States and Canada was not put into effect in Canada until January 2018.
“Oil companies are looking for a cleaner energy future, and we need to be part of the solution,” said CAPP President Mike Rundle.
The association says the industry needs to make changes to its environmental monitoring and disaster recovery practices, to make it easier for people to get involved.
“When companies get involved in a spill, they have to be responsible for what happens to the oil, to how the oil is handled,” Rundle said.
The industry has been working to reduce oil spill cleanup costs for about a year now.
In April, BP Canada announced that it would pay $300 million to settle claims that it had not properly investigated the spill.
The settlement came after BP said it would spend $1.2 billion to clean its facilities in the Gulf of Mexico after it received an accident report in February 2016.
A study by the company’s oil and gas consultants said the company should have done more to assess the damage to its infrastructure.
The oil company said in March it had begun an environmental remediation program, but did not offer specifics.
“We have a number of different programs and a lot of different strategies,” BP Canada president and CEO Michael Laskin said at the time.
“I can’t say enough about the level of effort, the commitment and the focus on safety, and the level and intensity of the response.”
The Canadian industry is also seeking more transparency about the extent of oil spill damage.
The Oil and Gas Accountability Act requires oil and natural gas companies to share details about spills and recoveries.
In a response to a question about the amount of money spent on spill cleanup, a spokeswoman for BP Canada said the industry is not required to disclose specific numbers.
“BP has spent the last two years undertaking an extensive environmental cleanup program in the U.S. and Canada, including a comprehensive response plan,” said Emily Follings.
“While the company is committed to a safe, clean and sustainable future for its workers and the environment, we do not disclose this information to our customers, nor to our employees or the public.”
A spokesman for the Canadian Association for Petroleum Proposals said the organization has no plans to introduce legislation that would require companies to disclose the amount spent on oil spill remediation.
The government of Alberta and its oil and mining industry have said they plan to hold their own spill clean-ups in 2019.
“The government of Canada continues to be committed to its commitment to hold a spill cleanup program that includes a cost recovery and mitigation strategy,” the industry said in a statement in March.
“All parties involved in the spill are committed to providing safe and clean energy, and are committed that there will be no repeat of the accident in 2019.”